Today, Senators will vote to allow ISPs to sell your internet history and end FCC online privacy rules
On March 23rd, 2017, the US Senate votes on S.J.Res 34, which would use the Congressional Review Act to strip away online privacy protections gained under the FCC and also disallow the FCC from enacting privacy rules in the future. The resolution, if passed along with its House counterpart and then signed into law, would pass the responsibility of online privacy regulation from the FCC onto the FTC, with the American public losing out in the meantime.
The FCC online privacy rules currently require ISPs to get your affirmative consent before selling your personal, sensitive information to advertisers. Notably, the FCC didn’t go as far as to ban “pay-for-privacy” schemes that were being offered by some ISPs. Back in 2016, when the FCC passed sweeping net neutrality and online privacy rules for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and telecoms to follow, the FTC did release a statement titled: Net Neutrality and Privacy: Don’t Fear the Reclassification.
The Senators that proposed this resolution did so for a reason
If you’re wondering whether or not the Senators that proposed S.J.Res 34 received any money from ISPs or telecoms, the answer is a resounding yes. Vocativ has a nice infographic that shows which Senators have received donations from telecoms and ISPs, and even trade groups like the CTIA. In a recent filing with the FCC, the CTIA has been attempting to push the idea that web browsing history and app usage data are not sensitive information.
Some do still believe in online privacy
The opposition to this Senate Resolution comes from far and wide, as it should. The internet history of every American is what is at stake, and there are advertising agencies around the world waiting to scoop up your private information. ACLU Counsel Neema Singh Guliani warned:
“With this move, Congress is essentially allowing companies like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon to sell consumers’ private information to the highest bidder”
Senator Brian Schatz called it:
“The single biggest step backwards in online privacy in many years.”
Senator Edward Markey commented:
“Just as phone companies cannot sell information about Americans’ phone calls, an internet service provider should not be allowed to sell sensitive consumer information without affirmative consent.”
He also tweeted:
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) March 22, 2017
What can you do to protect your online privacy?
Even if S.J.Res 34 makes it through the Senate, Americans still have one last chance in the House of Representatives to make a stand. The exact date for the vote for the House counterpart to S.J.Res 34, H.J.Res 86, still isn’t set yet; however, it is slated to be in the next month.
Join Fight for the Future (FFTF) at their new website Save Broadband Privacy to sign a petition to tell members of Congress to save #BroadbandPrivacy. FFTF concisely described why you should care if these laws are passed and FCC online privacy rules are revoked and never allowed to come back again:
This isn’t just your browsing history or cookies. It’s geolocation data, financial info, passwords, health info, even your Social Security Number. Anything you do, any data you enter, any online video you watch, any email you write. Your ISP could store it all and sell it for their own profit if Congress throws out the FCC rulings.