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What the death of broadband privacy rules means
04 April 2017, 04:59 | Ignacio Smith
The Federal Communications Commission rule, issued during the final months of the Obama administration, was created to give consumers greater control over how internet service providers share information.
Republicans said former President Barack Obama's appointee to the F.C.C., Tom Wheeler, had levied many overbearing regulations for providers that dwarfed their competition with companies such as Google and Netflix.
"Gutting these privacy rules won't just allow Internet Service Providers to spy on us and sell our personal information, it will also enable more unconstitutional mass government surveillance, and fundamentally undermine our cybersecurity by making our sensitive personal information vulnerable to hackers, identity thieves, and foreign governments".
Supporters of the new relaxed rules have argued that search engines and video-streaming services such as Netflix are already collecting and using that data, but critics have said consumers have the choice to switch to other platforms.
"Without prompt action in Congress or at the FCC, the FCC's regulations would break with well-accepted and functioning industry practices, chilling innovation and hurting the consumers the regulation was supposed to protect", wrote The American Association of Advertising Agencies (the 4A's) and several other advertising trade groups recently. Experts say federal law still requires broadband providers to protect customer information - but it doesn't spell out how or what companies must do. Originally, the plan is to apply for the same protection on particular corporations, but the Congress agreed with removing the privacy rule altogether for what seemed to be a "faster and more efficient way of handling things". Broadband providers don't now fall under FTC jurisdiction, and advocates say it has historically been a weaker agency than the FCC.
Just as the Senate vote to overturn privacy rules was close (50 votes to 48), so was yesterday's: 215 to 205. Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas parted ways with his Republican colleagues on the issue. I mean it only takes the signature of President Trump, and that won't take long in my opinion.
Nonetheless, groups are now calling on Trump to make good on his populist campaign rhetoric by vetoing the legislation.
President Trump will soon decide if your internet provider will be able to sell your private internet usage data-and they don't have to tell you they're doing it.
Telecom companies know a lot about what people do online because they are the gatekeepers through which people connect to the Internet.
Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that will revoke the Clean Power Plan introduced by the Obama administration in 2015 to restrict greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired US power plants. Of course, the majority of those in favor of the preservation of the privacy rules came from the Democratic Party.
A VPN (virtual private network) adds security and privacy to the Internet, public and private networks and WiFi hot spots.
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