FOR THE WEEK OF APR 03, 2017
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Federal lawmakers are moving to dismantle online privacy rules created under former President Barack Obama. The rules would have required internet providers to get permission before collecting and selling customers' online information, including sites we visit. Republicans in Congress last week narrowly passed repeal legislation with no Democratic support and over the strong objections of privacy advocates. President Trump strongly supports the repeal, the White House says.
The move will dump Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations adopted last October, a month before Trump's election, that would have forced web-access companies such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to shield users from companies selling stuff. Starting late this year, they would have needed our OK before using precise geolocation, app use, financial information, health information, children's information and browsing history for ads and other marketing. Providers also would have been required to tell customers about the types of information collected and shared. Now, after Trump signs the bill, the FCC will be barred from adopting a similar policy in the future.
Critics say the rules would unfairly let websites gather more data than internet service providers. (Federal rules for websites, such as eBay, Google and Facebook, already are less restrictive.) Scrapping the rules will let them show users more relevant ads and other offers, service providers say. Web browsing history and app use aren’t sensitive information, in their view. But once the pending repeal takes affect, a New York Times article says, "internet providers may decide to become more aggressive with data collection and retention. Expect more targeted advertising to come your way."
Congressman says: "Just last week, I bought underwear on the internet. Why should you know what size I take, or the color, or any of that information?” – Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Mass.
Editorial says: ”Trump promised voters during the campaign that he would protect the working class. But now he and his party are moving quickly to do the bidding of a very different interest group: Big Telecom.” – The New York Times
Lawyer says: "Most people can't simply walk away from their internet service provider. They need the internet and they may not have another option." -- Neema Singh Guliani, legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union