The U.S. “Congress took the first step Thursday to nullifying the new broadband privacy rules passed by the Federal Communications Commission last year,” Mike Snider reports for USA Today. “The rules, which would have required Internet service providers to ask customers’ permission to collect, use and sell personal information, were passed Oct. 27, 2016 by the FCC, then chaired by Democrat Tom Wheeler.”

“But Republicans are poised to overturn the rules entirely, using the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to dismiss regulations recently enacted by the previous administration with simple majority votes,” Snider reports. “The Senate voted 50-48 Thursday to overturn the rules, now the House must vote and, if its members pass the resolution, forward it onto President Trump.”

“The FCC put ‘heavy-handed’ rules on ISPs that were tougher than those on online content providers and other Net industries that amounted to ‘bad regulation,’ said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who proposed the review of the rules, on Wednesday,” Snider reports. “The FCC gained jurisdiction of consumer privacy on broadband networks after 2015’s passage of net neutrality or Open Internet rules that designated ISPs as ‘common carriers,’ akin to traditional phone service. But the Senate rightly reversed the FCC’s ‘flawed’ rules, said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, a trade group. ‘The Obama-era regulation threatens to undermine innovation and competition in the internet ecosystem,’ he said in a statement after Thursday’s vote.”

Snider reports, “Flake and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., noted that the FCC — now chaired by Republican Ajit Pai — still handles some enforcement of consumer online privacy and there are other federal and state laws.”

Read more in the full article here.

“If the House and Trump agree with the Senate’s action, ISPs won’t have to seek customer approval before sharing their browsing histories and other private information with advertisers,” Jon Brodkin reports for Ars Technica. “FCC Chairman Ajit Pai argues that consumers would be confused if there are different privacy rules for ISPs than for online companies like Google and Facebook. ‘American consumers should not have to be lawyers or engineers to figure out if their information is protected,” Pai recently told Democratic lawmakers.'”

“Few consumers have any choice of Internet provider, said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Thus, their only choice may be between ‘giving up their browsing history for an Internet provider to sell to the highest bidder or having no Internet at all,’ he said,” Brodkin reports. “Wyden also said that the FCC rules don’t prevent ISPs from monetizing customer data—the rules simply require ISPs to inform consumers about how their data is used and get customer consent before selling the most sensitive data, he said.”

“Republicans say that the Federal Trade Commission should have authority over ISPs’ privacy practices, instead of the FCC,” Brodkin reports. “That would require further action by the FCC or Congress because ISPs and phone companies are common carriers that cannot be regulated by the FTC.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’d like to see “further action by the FCC or Congress” to let the FTC regulate online privacy beyond what, if anything, is currently protected by existing “federal and state laws” posthaste.

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