It’s Official: President Trump Signs to Roll Back FCC’s Online Privacy Rules for ISPs
Following Senate and Congress votes, President Trump has now signed a bill into law to reverse a landmark FCC privacy rule. The rules protected consumer data and privacy by requiring Internet Service Providers to ask for user consent before they could use their browsing history for advertising or other purposes. The online privacy rules would have limited the ability of home and mobile broadband providers to share or sell customers' data without their permission. Today's action comes after Senate and House voting where Republicans voted to repeal these privacy rules that were issued by the FCC under Obama.
Trump delivers final blow to privacy rules
President Trump has signed into law Senate Joint Resolution 34 that nullifies the Federal Communications Commission’s final rule titled "Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunication Services."
The vote from the Senate and House had attracted a major backlash from voters across party lines. However, as promised, President Trump has now signed the resolution into law repealing FCC rules to protect consumers from privacy invasions by ISPs like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable. The rules were passed by the Federal Communications Commission last October and were set to go into effect later in 2017.
The privacy rules had kept ISPs from selling their customers' data or using ways to track and deliver targeted ads. The Electronic Frontier Foundation noted that the rules would have also "required those companies to protect customers’ data against hackers".
Republicans in Senate and Congress first voted to repeal these rules by passing a Congressional Review Act resolution. Privacy advocates were more concerned about the use of the Congressional Review Act that prevents the FCC from being able to write similar rules in the future, essentially ensuring that the Commission won't be able to do anything to police ISPs to protect customer privacy.
"Because of the current legal landscape, the FTC can’t police ISPs either, leaving customers without a federal agency that can clearly protect them in this space."
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the privacy rules "flawed," and again said that it wrongly favored one group of companies. As several privacy advocates have noted over a hundred times, ISPs can - and should - never be treated like private tech companies, since everything goes through them, making it impossible for a customer to keep their data private. (Unless, of course, VPNs are used - which are not bullet-proof solutions, either)
Here's the complete text of Pai's explanation of this repeal:
President Trump and Congress have appropriately invalidated one part of the Obama-era plan for regulating the Internet. Those flawed privacy rules, which never went into effect, were designed to benefit one group of favored companies, not online consumers.
American consumers' privacy deserves to be protected regardless of who handles their personal information. In order to deliver that consistent and comprehensive protection, the Federal Communications Commission will be working with the Federal Trade Commission to restore the FTC's authority to police Internet service providers' privacy practices. We need to put America's most experienced and expert privacy cop back on the beat. And we need to end the uncertainty and confusion that was created in 2015 when the FCC intruded in this space.
Following the votes in Senate and the House, AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon promised that they don't currently sell users' browsing history and have no plans to do so in the future. However, privacy advocates warn that it would be difficult to trust ISPs and that the choice should have been given to the users before their browsing data is used or shared.