The US Senate has voted to overturn consumer privacy laws enacted last year by the FCC. The rules, which forced internet service providers to actually get permission before selling your data, were overturned using the little-used Congressional Review Act (CRA).
Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal said before the vote that “This resolution is a direct attack on consumer rights, on privacy, on rules that afford basic protection against intrusive and illegal interference with consumers’ use of social media sites and websites that often they talk for granted.” Hope you enjoyed it while it lasted.
Assuming that this resolution passes through the House, which seems likely at this point, your broadband and wireless internet service provider will have free reign to collect and sell personal data along to third parties. That information may include (but is not limited to!) location, financial, healthcare and browsing data scraped from customers. As a result of the ruling, you can expect ISPs to begin collecting this data by default. Some ISPs may choose to include an opt-out from data collection in account settings.
The privacy rules were adopted by the Federal Communications Commission last October, under Obama-era chairman Tom Wheeler. The new chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, is trying to rebrand the Commission as a technological regulator that manages things like spectrum, with the minimum possible amount of regulation of the telecoms industry as a whole.
That might sound like an ideal situation for light-touch regulation, but with the wireless and cable industries both operating as powerful oligopolies, consumers will be left with zero protection against price-gouging, no advocate for net neutrality, and as today demonstrates, far less control over their own data.