Published: Fri, March 31, 2017
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

Congress signs law killing internet privacy


On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that effectively tears up a 2016 internet privacy rule from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) called, "Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunication Services".

The U.S. House this week voted largely along party lines to allow internet service providers like AT&T and Verizon to collect and sell the information generated by their customers, following a similar vote in the Senate. The rules also forced ISPs to provide data breach notifications, transparency, and more. The White House had earlier said that the new USA president strongly supported the repeal of the rules.

There are two major parts to the rules Congress voted to overturn.

Other opponents of the privacy rules argued they place a heavy load on broadband providers while allowing Internet giants like Facebook and Google to grab user data without consent.

"They know what you watch on cable television, they know what you stream", Chester says. The rules still needed approval under the Congressional Review Act, which Republicans have begun using to roll back pending Obama administration regulations.

The rules, adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in late October, would require ISPs to give consumers' the option to "opt in" to sharing information sensitive information - defined as including "precise geolocation, financial information, health information, children's information, social security numbers, web browsing history, app usage history and the content of communications". For starters, people are going to have to get used to the fact that every single thing they do over the internet is now being watched.

Image copyright Getty Images How will my user experience change?

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Had the FCC regulations gone into effect later this year as originally planned, logging on to the web via your phone, tablet, smart TV or laptop might have brought up a request from your ISPfor permission to access and share your information. They faulted the rule saying it was unfair and confusing for consumers.

"As I mentioned, we have a statement of administration policy on that bill", Spicer said.

Image copyright Getty Images Why should I care?

Plus, it's easier for consumers to choose whether they want to use Facebook or an alternative service; but when it comes to choosing ISPs, 78% of Americans don't have a choice between providers, according to a recent FCC report - not to mention there's a high cost associated with switching providers.

That's not to say law enforcement officials don't or won't find consumers' Internet data useful.

But business advocates and critics of federal oversight argueconsumers ought to be free to make their own decisions.

Team Logic experts said there are ways to limit what ISPs can spy on, such as putting your device on airplane mode, powering down when you're not using your device and clearing your internet browsing history. They can also use this information to further push targeted advertisements.

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