U.S. Senate votes to overturn Internet privacy rules

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.

We use TunnelBear’s VPN service (especially while using public Wi-Fi) and they offer unlimited data for $49.99 billed yearly which is less than $4.17/month.

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U.S. FCC chairman wields weed whacker, takes first steps against so-called ‘net neutrality’ – February 3, 2017
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New FCC chairman Ajit Pai vows to take a ‘weed whacker’ to so-called ‘net neutrality’ – January 24, 2017
President Trump elevates Ajit Pai to FCC Chairman – January 23, 2017


    1. Do you honestly believe that the FCC was originally intended to help large corporations screw individual consumers? I think it was the other way around. Power corrupts, and monopoly power corrupts absolutely.

      If you think that the FCC should not be protecting members of the general public, then that effort is proceeding nicely.

      1. When you shop online from your tablet or browse the internet on your smartphones, you expect your personal data to be secure. Technology companies invest billions of dollars on data security to protect consumer privacy.

        Privacy is also a cornerstone of consumer protection, with federal enforcement agencies striking an appropriate balance between innovation and security in their regulations. But just as a flawed line of code can render a new firewall program useless, the new privacy rules that were rushed through in the waning days of the Obama administration risk crashing our longstanding privacy-protection regime.

        For two decades, the Federal Trade Commission has been America’s sole online privacy regulator. Under the FTC’s watch, our internet and data economy has been the envy of the world. The agency’s evidence-based approach calibrates privacy and data-security requirements to the sensitivity of information collected, used or shared online, and applies protections in a consistent and evenhanded way across business sectors. Consumer behavior demonstrates the success of the FTC’s regulatory approach: Each day people spend more time engaging in online activities.

        But in 2015, in a bid to expand its own power, the Federal Communications Commission short-circuited the effectiveness of the FTC’s approach by reclassifying internet service providers as common carriers, subject to Title II of the Communications Act.

        In taking that unprecedented action, the FCC unilaterally stripped the FTC of its traditional jurisdiction over ISPs. The FTC can no longer police the privacy practices of providers, leaving us with a two-track system under which the FCC applies its own set of rules for ISPs while the FTC monitors the rest of the internet ecosystem.

        Even after the 2015 power grab, the FCC could have simply adopted as its own the FTC’s successful sensitivity-based model of privacy regulation. Instead—after last year’s election—the FCC finalized privacy regulations that deviate extensively from the FTC framework in several key respects.

        The FCC rules subject all web browsing and app usage data to the same restrictive requirements as sensitive personal information. That means that information generated from looking up the latest Cardinals score or checking the weather in Scottsdale is treated the same as personal health and financial data.

        The new rules also restrict an ISP’s ability to inform customers about innovative and cost-saving product offerings. So much for consumer choice.

        The FCC’s overreach is a dangerous deviation from successful regulation and common-sense industry practices. But don’t just take my word for it. The FTC concluded that the FCC’s decision to treat ISPs differently from the rest of the internet ecosystem was “not optimal”—agency-speak for “a really bad idea.”

        Outside of the FTC’s well-founded concerns, the new rules are also a departure from bipartisan agreement on the need for consistent online privacy rules. President Obama noted in 2012 that “companies should present choices about data sharing, collection, use, and disclosure that are appropriate for the scale, scope, and sensitivity of personal data in question at the time of collection.” In other words, privacy rules should be based on the data itself.

        But that’s not how the FCC sees it. The commission’s rules suffocate industry and harm consumers by creating two completely different sets of requirements for different parts of the internet.

        To protect consumers from these harmful new regulations, I will soon introduce a resolution under the Congressional Review Act to repeal the FCC’s flawed privacy rules. While the resolution would eliminate those rules, it would not change the current statutory classification of broadband service or bring ISPs back under FTC jurisdiction. Instead, the resolution would scrap the FCC’s newly imposed privacy rules in the hope that it would follow the FTC’s successful sensitivity-based framework.

        This CRA resolution does nothing to change the privacy protections consumers currently enjoy. I hope Congress and the FCC will continue working together to address issues of concern down the road. However, it is imperative for rule-making entities to stay in their jurisdictional lanes. We need to reject these harmful midnight privacy regulations that serve only to empower bureaucrats and hurt consumers.U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), March 1, 2017

        1. Enough with the outrageous and verbose shilling! Just explain how this decision in. any. way. whatsoever…is beneficial to the consumer’s rights – yes, ‘that’ word that you so carelessly bandy about…regarding privacy on the net? Or being in control of your net experience? Or limiting what can be done with ‘your’ data?
          Us ordinary folk deserve to know!

            1. What? This? “The new rules also restrict an ISP’s ability to inform customers about innovative and cost-saving product offerings. So much for consumer choice.”

              Seriously?! This is typical corporate-speak for the “If we can screw you, you’ll enjoy it” attitude.
              Invading Internet user’s privacy and selling their browsing history does NOT make the customer’s life better.

        2. Unfortunately, no one here has the attention span to read all that and be properly informed.
          To the rest of you, this can’t be explained in a Tweet.
          Deal with the big words and long paragraphs. How do you expect to be informed voters if you don’t take the time to read?

          1. Speak for your self instead of assuming everyone has the IQ of a gnat. There is nothing in that screed that in any way explains how ‘removing’ the provision for user control over ‘your’ ISP, your usage data and privacy records, can to be sold, bartered and monetized without consultation…is a good thing.
            I see the word ‘hope’. When did that ever stop the abuse of privacy.
            Sleepwalking into stupidity is not an option. The hypocrisy of the Trump Experiment is built on smoke and mirrors, backed by the gullible who think ‘big business’ is on their side.
            The kakistocracy rises!

        3. The Trump swamp is teeming with lowlife…
          The U.S. Senate has voted in favor of overturning privacy rules instituted by the Federal Communications Commission in 2016, which — if the measure survives a second vote in the House of Representatives — will allow internet service providers to sell customer data to advertisers without people having a say.

          The Senate vote was split along party lines, with 50 Republicans in favor and 48 Democrats opposing, Reuters reported. Two Republicans were absent.

          It’s unknown when the House of Representatives will decide on the matter.

          The prior FCC rules required ISPs to get consent before sharing data on location, health, children, finances, or browser history, whether for advertisers or internal marketing. They were opposed not only by the ISPs but by political supporters like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who after the Senate vote argued they created “an uneven playing field,” discouraging “competition, innovation, and infrastructure investment.”

          Republicans on the FCC — including new chairman Ajit Pai — have suggested the rules give Web companies like Google and Facebook the ability to collect more data than ISPs, and hence an unfair edge in ads.

          According to Vocativ, citing the Center for Responsive Politics, the 22 Republican senators behind the move to overturn have received over $1.7 million in donations from trade organizations and ISPs like AT&T and Comcast since 2012. Some of the bigger individual recipients include Texas senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, Florida’s Marco Rubio, and South Dakota’s John Thune.

          The biggest corporate donors were AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, which gave $357,000, $309,000, and $273,000, respectively.
          The Trump swamp is teeming with lowlife, shafting the little guy as usual, only this time it’s Making_America_Great_Again cultists cheering them on.

    2. “Good to see that the effort to return the FCC to what it’s intended to be is proceeding nicely.”

      The FCC was never meant to serve the wants and total recklessness of powerful corporations. That’s anti-freedom. If you want a place where the govt. takes all your rights, move to Russia, commie.

    3. Seriously, you must be brain dead? You obviously have absolutely no cognitive abilities. You just follow along like a lap dog.

      I’m neither liberal nor conservative. Neither a Democrat nor a Republican. That allows me to remain open minded and form an original opinion instead of constantly being told what to think and say. I believe government should basically stay out of the way as much as possible, except when its citizens are being taken advantage of and/or abused because they have no recourse.

      1. “I believe government should basically stay out of the way as much as possible,”

        That’s what they do now.

        “except when its citizens are being taken advantage of and/or abused because they have no recourse.”

        That’s what they do now. Not so much now considering the GOP are in charge. That 1% economy is chugging right along.

  1. Funny thing about Pai. He thinks his act is convincing and will be regarded as being sincere. According to Pai, it’s okay to have a large spiked object shoved up your you know what so long as you know they are doing it.

          1. Truthful and to the point, CB. I noticed not one word of disagreement in your reply. Just the same schoolyard insults. Pre-school children where I come from can’t read, write or use the Internet. Get a grip on reality …

        1. Wrong on both accounts, buddy. Neither insult or Liberal. Just a straight up question from someone who considers himself a fiscal conservative..but strongly opposes government interference into my life.

  2. The FCC’s midnight regulation has the potential to limit consumer choice, stifle innovation, and jeopardize data security by destabilizing the internet ecosystem. Passing my resolution is the first step toward restoring a consumer-friendly approach to internet privacy regulation that empowers consumers to make informed choices on if and how their data can be shared. It will not change or lessen existing consumer privacy protections. — U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)

    Flake’s resolution, S.J.Res. 34, would not change or lessen existing consumer privacy regulations. It is designed to block an attempt by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to expand its regulatory jurisdiction and impose prescriptive data restrictions on internet service providers. These restrictions have the potential to negatively impact consumers and the future of internet innovation.

    S.J.Res. 34 would provide for congressional disapproval of the FCC rule under the Congressional Review Act, a 1996 law that empowers Congress to repeal federal regulations. The resolution would also prevent the FCC from issuing similarly harmful regulations in the future.

    On March 1, 2017, Flake wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal laying out his argument for the resolution. Read the op-ed here.

  3. We’ll see. And when we do, it may be too late. But whatever; did anyone ever really believe ordinary citizens and consumers had much of a chance at improving our lot, apart from corporate flack smoothly redefining what constitutes improving our lot whilst blatantly improving theirs?

    1. Me, me I do I do, but then again, I’m from the free and civilized world, where we talk and walk humanitarian rights. Corporations have a wonderful way of improving humanity, not all are profit driven, some actually have morals and ethics.

      1. An asteroid the size of a metro bus passed between us and the moon just the other day. We dodged a cosmic bullet. We. Everyone on the planet.

        An asteroid strike hurts Gaia, damages the global ecosystem, and threatens to topple humans’ interlocking economies. Civilisation itself trembles at such extraterrestrial assaults, and political freedom is amongst the first casualties. In a hostile universe, we’re lucky to be alive, and to have lived this long. Thank the stars, that they keep a serene distance from our grubby affairs!

        In the stress of such a global calamity, political leadership, borders, and national identities all vaporise and the individual comes to the fore, along with kith and kin that make up strongly bound tribes, groups numbering in the low dozens of members, optimised for physical survival.

        The popularity of dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories represents, I believe, a desire to return to this pre-civilised state. There would still be politics, but at least shamans and chiefs who failed would be punished. Feeding them to dragons would be deeply satisfying. If there is one thing deeply missed in our complex modern life, it is this—rewarding power when it is moral, removing power when it is not.

  4. THEY the corporations are our overlords.
    WE the people are their peasants.
    The customer is the product.
    Sell the product.
    The product has no voice.

    We’re in a new dark age.

    PoliTardation of the USA. Blatant ignoring of the US Constitution, specifically the Fourth Amendment. The US Senate should be HUNG for this treasonous action. There will be LAWSUITS.


    Use a VPN
    Virtual Private Network
    To HIDE (via encryption) your activities on the Internet. Look for the fastest, most reliable VPN you can find with exit nodes outside of your ISP.

    There’s a slew of other privacy practices to use to keep yourself from becoming THE PRODUCT of the corporatocracy.

    1. Ha! VPN will be useless because the new law will enable the ISP to install tracking software on your devices, some undetectable. You can’t hide from the man and the final solution for the lower and middle class. This will be used to bribe or extort for ultimate power, and bye-bye all dissidents. You will respect the Authoritay! Bam!!

      1. The return of the ‘Clipper Chip’. How amusing that this time its Republicans pushing totalitarianism. I keep pointing out that totalitarianism has no political party. It is a system of FAILure. It’s what happens when someone’s extreme vision proves to be total bullshit. It’s an extended act of desperation.

        So why all the current desperation in the USA? And don’t give me the line about foreign ‘terrorists’ coming to get us. In the USA, they’re statistically irrelevant compared to home grown mass murders attributed to a wide variety of human failings and foolishness.

        Now if the Trump Troup managed to get the USA into an actual, important, meaningful war, no doubt they could pull the ‘time of war’/martial law routine to justify the paranoia.

        Oh that’s why.

        President Paranoid. √ If he says it, it’s gotta be true…

        1. The problem is that the government is broke, the emperor wears no clothes. To keep order and save the one percent indefinitely, we will follow the effective North Korean playbook (though countless others have used this before). To defend against our enemies banging at the door, we must patriotically stick together, give up all rights, report on each other, disregard the confiscations to come, and suffer for the duration.

  5. Can you recommend some VPNs for the average consumer who is not technically savvy and has no clue about VPNs? What is an “exit node outside of your ISP” and how does a consumer determine that?

  6. This just means that any liberal leaning data collection group working within an ISP can capture the browsing history, contact information of anyone that appears to be conservative, then sell that information to any liberal attack groups that has the money to buy it.

    1. Your handle is so appropriate, Wrong Again! You only have a few rivals in that department…botty and .Fwhatever, for example.

      You have an enormous conservative persecution complex coupled with a massive bent towards wild conspiracy theories. I would absolutely hate to be a member of your family or in your circle of friends/acquaintances (assuming you are not a crazy hermit). It would be hell on Earth, indeed.

      1. You have seriously crossed the line!!! 😡

        You don’t disparage a person’s family EVER for a comment you don’t like. Who do you think you are, Almighty God Psychoanalyst!?!?!

        You’re lucky we are not in the same room … 😈

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