Following a vote along party lines in the Senate just a week before, on Tuesday, Mar. 28, The House of Representatives voted to repeal Internet privacy regulations rolled out under the Obama administration. In late October of last year, the Federal Communications Commission approved rules requiring Internet service providers to receive permission from the client before sharing their data. Then-chairman Tom Wheeler had expressed his thoughts on the 2016 change in a tweet:
The bottom line of today’s privacy rulemaking is that it’s your data. How it’s used & shared should be your choice.
— Tom Wheeler (@TomWheelerFCC) October 27, 2016
The House evidently has a different stance than Wheeler, leading to the overturning of these regulations just three months after its induction. Essentially, the change allows your internet service provider to sell your web browsing history, app usage and even geo-location to other companies for the purpose of targeted advertising. The repeal can be seen as a success for corporate Internet providers, who now have access to the content which mere speculation led to billions of dollars spent on deals like AT&T’s $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable, still in progress.
Republicans have voiced support for the repeal, like Representative Michael Burgess of Texas, who claimed it would “level the playing field for an increasingly anti-competitive market.”
However, Senators have also expressed concerns about the repeal. Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts stated, “The American people do not want their sensitive information collected, used and sold by any third party, whether that be your broadband provider or a hacker.”
Granted, the decision is now in the hands of President Trump. However, The White House has voiced its support of the change through the office of the Press Secretary, stating “The Administration strongly supports House passage of S.J.Res. 34, which would nullify the Federal Communications Commission’s final rule titled ‘Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunication Services’.” Trump’s signature of the legislation would prevent the FCC from adopting another policy similar to the one passed in October 2016.