In October of 2016, the Obama-era FCC approved new broadband privacy rules that required internet providers to get a customer's explicit consent before selling their web browsing history. This week, the Senate voted to use the Congressional Review Act to undo those regulations and prevent the FCC from issuing similar regulations in the future - making it open season on your browsing history.
The measure was proposed by Sen. Jeff Flake and 23 Republican co-sponsors. Democratic Sen. Ed Markey, who opposed the measure, said that the acronym “ISP” would now stand for "information sold for profit" or "invading subscriber privacy," instead of "internet service provider.” Markey said that the measure would allow “broadband providers to take control away from consumers and relentlessly collect and sell their sensitive information without the consent of that family."
"Your home broadband provider can know when you wake up each day—either by knowing the time each morning that you log on to the Internet to check the weather/news of the morning, or through a connected device in your home," Sen. Bill Nelson said. Nelson pointed out that mobile broadband providers "know how you move about your day through information about your geolocation and Internet activity through your mobile device.”
"This is a gold mine of data—the holy grail so to speak," the Senator continued. "It is no wonder that broadband providers want to be able to sell this information to the highest bidder without consumers’ knowledge or consent. And they want to collect and use this information without providing transparency or being held accountable."
The House still needs to approve the measure before the elimination of the 2016 privacy rules takes effect, so there is still time for constituents to contact their Congressional Representative and let them know they oppose this corporate invasion of privacy.