Alas, Senate votes to slam broadband privacy rules

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The Senate today voted along party lines to pass a resolution that would overturn a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule that requires internet service providers to get customers’ permission before they sell sensitive consumer data. Passage of the resolution by Congress could prevent the FCC from issuing rules that are substantially the same in the future. If signed by the President, this law would repeal the FCC’s widely-supported broadband privacy rules and eliminate the requirement that cable and broadband providers offer customers a choice before selling their sensitive, personal information.

The FCC rule required providers to get opt-in consent from subscribers to share sensitive information, which includes the content of communications, location information, and web browsing and mobile app usage history for the subscriber and anyone in the home.

Opponents of the rule—mostly online broadband providers—lobbied against the rule, arguing that the FCC lacks the authority to protect broadband customers' privacy, and that broadband providers should be free to use and share their customers' data, particularly browsing history. Consumer Action and its allies have argued that the FCC is the guardian of subscribers' personal information with respect to broadband providers.

"Today is a sad one for online privacy rights," said Linda Sherry, Consumer Action director of national priorities. "It shows that so many in power are willing to trample consumer rights in order to allow internet service providers to trade on and profit from consumers' personal information without seeking their permission. In voting to overturn the rule using the bluntest of political instruments—the Congressional Review Act—the elected officials who voted for this show that they could give a fig for consumer privacy rights now, or in the future."




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