Congress votes to repeal FCC Internet privacy rules

The U.S. House of Representatives voted primarily along party lines 215 to 205 Tuesday to repeal FCC’s broadband privacy rules enacted shortly before the end of the Obama administration, with only the President’s signature needed to make it official.

“The Senate approved the CRA [Congressional Review Act] resolution March 23 by a vote of 50 to 48. The resolution removes the rules, approved on a party line vote Oct. 27, from the congressional record and prevents the FCC from adopting substantially similar rules in the future,” John Eggerton reports for Broadcasting & Cable. “Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Tex.), who was managing the rules for voting on the CRA, called it a duplicative regulation ‘dropped on the doorstep’ by the previous Administration.”

“In his opening statement, which was the bulk of the Republican floor argument for the bill, he said that the FCC’s new and expanded privacy rules were adopted a mere 10 days before the election, on a party-line vote. He called them a departure from the Federal Trade Commission’s [privacy by design] approach. He charged that the FCC’s approach unfairly skewed the market in favor of providers, in this case edge providers, like search engines, social media sites and content providers like Netflix, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, who are under the FTC’s opt-out approach to web browsing and app use, rather than the FCC rules’ opt-in requirement for ISP use of similar info,” Eggerton reports. “He said the FCC rules are arbitrary government intervention in the free market that can inhibit security and market competition and their cybersecurity notification requirements could lead to ‘notice fatigue’ while creating confusion by ‘subjecting part of the internet ecosystem to different rules and jurisdictions.’ Burgess said the CRA would simply restore the status quo before the 2015 open internet order and bring the marketplace back into balance.”

“During debate on the actual bill, Republicans lined up to blast the [FCC] rules,” Eggerton reports. “They said the Federal Trade Commission should be overseeing broadband privacy. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) said he has introduced legislation that would close a legal gap and make sure that the FTC can regulate broadband privacy.”

“The bill was voted on a closed rule, which meant no amendments, though Democrats opposed that rule and tried to add an amendment that would have made President Trump, and future presidents and presidential candidates, release their tax returns,” Eggerton reports. “House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) said Tuesday that rolling back the FCC’s privacy regs would be the 15th CRA resolution that has passed the House in an effort to “bring back common sense regulation.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last Thursday:

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.

U.S. Senate votes to overturn Internet privacy rules – March 23, 2017
FCC approves LTE-U devices; ‘big win for wireless consumers’ – FCC Chairman Ajit Pai – February 23, 2017
U.S. FCC chairman wields weed whacker, takes first steps against so-called ‘net neutrality’ – February 3, 2017
How so-called ‘net neutrality’ will fare under President Trump – January 26, 2017
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. Those particular GOP politicians are called RINOs, with RINO standing for Republican In Name Only. They call themselves Republicans, but they’re just working for the corporations. This is why congress needs term limits.

          1. So every single republican who voted for this reprehensible anti-privacy bill is a RINO? The vote was right down party line. I think you need to wake up and realize that he party you used to associate with isn’t with you anymore.

            We need term limits but we also need to stop making excuses to support a party that is corrupt to the core. Both of them, actually.

      1. It’s not really political. Well, unless you think letting the feds see everyone’s Internet traffic will help locate terrorists, which it won’t. It really just gets down to how much you care about your privacy.

        1. “What America needs is one standard across the internet ecosystem and the Federal Trade Commission is the best place for that standard.” – Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.

          Don’t fall for silly headlines from the MSM and leftist tech sites that are easily manipulated by leftist activist groups. Such headlines and articles are designed to bait you. Republicans aren’t “evil.” Republicans simply want one standard — under the FTC, not the FCC — as opposed to the inconsistent and confusing mess Obama left behind.

          1. You are such a consistently ignorant TOOL of the Corporatocracy. Enjoy losing your privacy on the Internet to the highest bidder, stupid sock puppet.

            And yes, that’s the exact result of today’s vote and The Trump’s inevitable signing of this UNCONSTITUTIONAL vote this pm. Here come the lawsuits. That’s one reason I support EFF, the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

            (Hint: The Federal Trade Commission and NO legal authority to protect Internet user privacy. That was ADMITTED by both the new head of the FCC and the Republicans in the House this afternoon. I can read. I can hear. I can understand the coming repercussions. I have an active brain.

            1. While Derek gets it wrong on the constitutionality thing, the vast majority of what he states is fact.

              The FTC taking over Internet privacy is a complete ruse.

              The Internet is a *COMMUNICATIONS* medium. The companies that directly support the Internet are *COMMUNICATIONS* companies. The equipment they use and is bought from a myriad set of vendors is all *COMMUNICATIONS* equipment.

              As soon as anyone tries to enact a law or put for regulations or implement controlling rules with regard to privacy in any part of the Internet though the FTC there will be dozens if not dozens of dozens of lawsuits based upon the fact that the FTC has zero jurisdiction over *COMMUNICATIONS* systems.

              The “we need to make the rules consistent” argument does not hold up either. In order to protect privacy Congress could have directed the FCC to implement the same rules over collection, storage and distribution of information collected from Internet uses (using communications means) that the FCC was implementing for ISPs and carriers. Simple: one rule for all and everything collected from the Internet.

              But no, Congress (House and Senate) chose to bow to corporations and give them one more means to make money off of people’s lives.

          2. One standard under the FTC would be fine, if it respected an individual’s privacy. My understanding is that the FTC protections in regards to ISP”s tracking us and selling that data are much weaker. The FTC doesn’t have a very good track record of effective privacy protection, in my opinion. How well is the Do Not Call list working for you? No matter how you look at it, this bill, probably soon to become law, weakens privacy protections and is a potential financial windfall to ISP’s. If the FTC steps up to the plate and issues meaningful regulations to protect my privacy, that would be great. In the mean time, I’m not holding my breath and I’m using a VPN.

          3. Exactly what part of an ISP that I PAY FOR SERVICE being limited to not selling my browsing activity and location data to anyone they damn please for profit makes any sense?

            This is pure fucking greed. AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, etc all want in on the data mining game. They know Google and Facebook bank billions by pimping your data to whomever, but it is a consensual thing- you have to sign up for Google or Facebook accounts. Your ISP- many times only one option in a market- already makes a huge profit selling you overpriced data service wired or wirelessly.

            Tom Wheeler prior to being the FCC Commissioner had been lead lobbyist for both the Cable and Phone industries and knew full well where the bodies lay. During Obama’s term under Tom Wheeler, the FCC rules were so onerous and destructive to profit that Comcast was only able to swallow up NBC & Universal Pictures, while AT&T was only able to swallow up DirecTV and soon Time-Warner. Verizon has swallowed AOL and soon Yahoo.

            The FTC has no intention of regulating the behavior of ISPs online or the protection of your privacy which inexactly why the Republicans are pointing that way. Apparently Ajit Pai, who dropped trou, bent over and grabbed his ankles in celebration as soon as Drumpf promoted him to FCC Chairman, is not butt boy enough for the TelCos.

            What the Republicans- the Senate was a part line vote and the House was almost- have done is the online equivalent of unlocking your house, your safety deposit box, your car and setting your checkbook and teenage daughter out on the front step for anybody to have a shot at. And they all do it because they love “freedom”.

          4. Don’t fall for the silly comments of the liar f then f.

            ‘Don’t fall for silly headlines from the RWNJ’s and facist treasonous sites that are easily manipulated by right wing nut jobs and activist groups. Such headlines and articles are designed to bait you. Democrats aren’t “evil.” Democrats simply want one standard — under the FTC, not the FCC —’ removed stupid ass opinion out

          5. I was wondering how douche dick 2014 then 2016 would spin this. Ah, it is a leftist plot/conspiracy by liberal tech sites.

            Have a look at the political contribution to each of the members for this bill to be passed.

            Bought and paid for my friend and you and the rest of the deplorables will keep telling us how great that shit tastes while you are eating it.

            I would be curious to know in your life how many liberal laws you live with and under. You seem like a guy in a union. I am pretty sure if you would share we all could
            point to many things in your life that you wouldn’t be enjoying if the dems had never been around to give you rights. Oh, here is one. Your right to type your comments on a site like this.

            Don’t forget to call me a libtard in your response.

          6. In order to gain power and stay in office, the Republican party has been forced to use three broad strategies.

            One, it has exaggerated and twisted basic conservative concepts until they are out of touch with current political challenges. For instance, 19th-century ideas about the wisdom of the unregulated marketplace cannot begin to address the enormous and complex labor, health-care, tax-code, environmental and infrastructure needs of the 21st.

            Two, they have had to mortgage their integrity to the very richest of Americans, who demand tax cuts and devious welfare-for-the-rich and deregulation deals that make any sort of rational and creative legislative response to difficult 21st century challenges impossible to craft.

            Three, they have had to quietly and under cover of code words and stereotypes make common cause with the worst of American culture: racism and xenophobia.

            These three strategies make for great political theater: nasty sloganeering, powerful advertising campaigns and vicious scapegoating. But winning an election through manipulation and bullying does not necessarily translate into good governance. And winning an election in simplistic, vicious, nefarious ways especially makes governance in a democracy difficult.

            – Philip Cushman

      1. Come back to reality. This absolutely enables the sale of personal browsing data without an opt-out option, which was the previous status quo. Incognito and other private browsing modes will not work to block this either.

  1. I hate partisanship but bjr001 is right. It’s obvious that the current crop of republicans in Congress don’t give a fig for a citizen’s freedom if there’s a buck to be made. For shame!

    At some point principled conservatives need to be elected to represent the people instead of the greediest corporations.

  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.

    1. “These restrictions have the potential to negatively impact consumers and the future of internet innovation.” — a rather bold, blanket statement.

      Care to explain with *specifics* — especially the “negatively impact consumers” part? (And do NOT give me that “regulations cause more business overhead which costs money and costs” jobs BS. Under the prior FCC rule, most people would not “opt-in” and ISPs know this. Therefore, the vast majority of ISPs would not even set up a tracking system for gathering information about their clients’ actions.)

    2. Wow, you are on an agenda my poor friend.
      Seeing your intensity in this forum makes me wonder…
      In fact, if we follow your thinking, you don’t have any Apple product. You shouldn’t be here trolling.

      Stay tuned on FOX news… I ear it in the background.

    3. Republican Butt Boy:
      I as a licensed medical professional am bound under HIPPA to protect every aspect of your private medical, demographic and financial information. If I violate it I can be fined or go to jail.

      Thanks to this gift to Republican Lobbyists and Trump Campaign Contributors, your ISP can sell that and such more for profit openly and without your consent.

      Now that makes not one whit of sense unless you are the creep selling out your customers. I understand why AT&T & Comcast wants it- they get to make even more money. I understand why Republicans for sale like Marsha Blackburn and Jeff Flake are for it- they are deep in the pockets of the TelCo/ISP Lobby.

      What is incomprehensible is why any common citizen/customer would think this a good thing or be a ranting tool in it’s defense.

      1. I, as another licensed medical professional, call complete and total BS on your HIPAA comparison. HIPAA protects the sanctity of the patient record, specifically the doctor/patient conversation, much in the same way the attorney/client privilege is secured. This protection supersedes all others, including anything handed down by the FCC or otherwise. As an example- even though Epic EMR owns the patient data for every medical record within their system (let that thought settle in for a moment), they have no jurisdiction to view, modify or otherwise profit from this data, as it is protected under HIPAA. So this new action by congress has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on HIPAA protected patient data.

        1. Read what I wrote before you write. I never implied it had anything to do with HIPPA.

          What I said is that I am rightly required to protect your data, but ISPs are free to sell it. The sad truth is some of that information will be the same.

          The issue is privacy and the simple fact that ISPs hold a special place in the Internet field and should never be able to compromise your data. If AT&T wants to be Google they are in the wrong business.

          I am quite familiar with EPIC- we are afflicted with their shit software. Apple could have made a ton of money had they entered the EMR/HIS/RIS/PACS businesses instead of wasting $3 Billion on Beats.

          1. Let me make myself clear- your assertion that ISP’s can sell any medical information- the same information you can go to jail for exposing- is flat out wrong. They CANNOT sell any personal medical information AT ALL, or they too will go to jail under the protections afforded by HIPAA

            1. Again, false. If an ISP collects and distributes, in any way, personal medical information, they are breaking the law. Like I said HIPAA protections supersede all others.

            2. Then they are already breaking the law. People using online pharmacies are well known to get targeted ads from Google, Facebook and others. Yes, they are not ISPs, but the business the ISPs want into is the selling of customer data for advertising.

              From the Government’s own website:The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) issued the Privacy Rule to implement the requirement of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”).1 The Privacy Rule standards address the use and disclosure of individuals’ health information—called “protected health information” by organizations subject to the Privacy Rule — called “covered entities,” as well as standards for individuals’ privacy rights to understand and control how their health information is used.

              Note the phrase organizations subject to the Privacy Rule- not everybody. Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Spectrum (Charter and TWC), SuddenLink, CenturyTel and others are not subject to the Privacy Rule.

              Again you are wrong.

            3. Correct- telecommunications companies are NOT ‘covered under HIPAA’. INDIVIDUALS are covered under HIPAA- it’s a protection of a persons health information, not a permission slip to transmit this information (it’s quite the contrary actually). And it’s the law of the land! Every entity in the US is subject to it’s dictum. Again- ISP’s CANNOT transmit, sell or otherwise manipulate ANY patient health information without patient consent- it’s AGAINST THE LAW!

            4. @ jdoc: HIPA is ineffective at best against modern electronic tracking and datamining. Google and Facebook and Amazon already know what medications and diseases you’ve researched, your diet, how long you sleep at night, etc. they aren’t hiding the fact that their plan is to dominate the mindshare of everyone by knowing what people want before people themselves understand it. We are at the point where unscrupulous companies can advertise to your aging parents caskets and reverse mortgages and complicated insurance plans because they know how financially astute, healthy, and wealthy your parents are.

              And thanks to 20 years of nonexistent FCC oversight, now made worse by the most inept and corrupt administration since Andrew Jackass, companies are free to spy on everyone with complete impunity. The medical records you have are just the tip of the iceberg of what dataminers have on you.

            5. You’ll have to prove to me that people who use online pharmacies receive targeted ads from Google based on the prescriptions they take. Again, that’s illegal. Don’t know how many times you have to be told this- you should really know this if you are indeed involved in healthcare at all

              The links you provide to HHS website only proves my point. Protected entities are those in which personal medical infomation is stored and utilized to treat the patient, ie healthcare provider, health plan, health care clearinghouse. This means, patient medical information is PROTECTED under HIPAA while stored in these HEALTHCARE RELATED facilities. These are the ONLY repositories that are allowed to house patient medical data. That DOES NOT mean that Comcast can do whatever it wants with patient data if it stored such infomation on its servers. READ MORE OF HIPAA: If any of these entities so much as manipulates, in any way, personal patient medical inforamation without consent from the patient, THEY ARE BREAKING THE LAW! Indeed, for your little pharmacy example, read the fine print on the website you linked:

              …but only if they transmit any information in an electronic form in connection with a transaction for which HHS has adopted a standard.” This means, encrypted and protected transmission.

              C’mon now, you’re embarassing yourself.

  3. So what privacy were we sacrificing all the rest of the years up to 10 days before the election?

    They are repealing a regulation that is a little over 4 months old. Why were all of you not losing your mind before that?

    Please point to the laws or regulations that will be different from 5 months ago.

    Good lord, CNN says they are killing babies and having animal sacrifices and you all would believe them.

    1. Please read the article before commenting.

      Until 10 days before the election, we were protected to some degree by FTC regulations that were abolished when the FCC regulations were adopted. The Flake bill removes the current FCC regs (and the agency’s ability to adopt anything similar in the future), but does not restore the FTC regs. As MDN points out, the ISPs will have no privacy regulations at all until some future action by Congress or the FTC.

  4. “He said the FCC rules are arbitrary government intervention in the free market”
    WHAT FREE MARKET? For the past decade I’ve had a choice of exactly ONE broadband provider! This BS isn’t about competition, it’s about handouts to government-sanctioned monopolies, who are undoubtedly generous to their congressional benefactors.

  5. In a party-line vote, House Republicans freed Internet service providers such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast of protections approved just last year that had sought to limit what companies could do with information such as customer browsing habits, app usage history, location data and Social Security numbers. The rules also had required providers to strengthen safeguards for customer data against hackers and thieves.

    The Senate has voted to nullify those measures, which were set to take effect at the end of this year. If Trump signs the legislation as expected, providers will be able to monitor their customers’ behavior online and, without their permission, use their personal and financial information to sell highly targeted ads — making them rivals to Google and Facebook in the $83 billion online advertising market.

    1. The difference, of course, is that someone can chose to avoid using Google and Facebook, but one cannot avoid doing business with an ISP. In most markets, there isn’t even a choice between high-speed providers. VPNs currently provide an alternative, but I’m betting the telecoms find a way to suppress them.

      1. Technically, you can choose to avoid using any ISP service too. There are plenty of public WiFi spots and connected computers in virtually every jurisdiction in the US, like in public libraries. The ‘choice’ to avoid Google and/or FB is really not a choice at all for most people. Any time we use anything internet-based, these companies are watching (despite their privacy rules, or lack thereof)

        1. Yes, and we can also “choose” to live off the grid and avoid municipal water supplies. ISPs have FAR more insight into their users than Facebook and Google, and public WiFi is even less secure for private business.

          1. I would disagree RE: “ISP’s have FAR more insight into their users than FB and Google…”. That’s just flat out wrong. Billions of people use FB and Google, including businesses big and small. They have more data than we can imagine, and many companies, including ISP’s purchase this data from them. Their algorithms are the most advanced in the world. Basically, you can’t escape their reach.

            1. Depends on the user. One can block FB and Google. An ISP has the ability to record every site you visit, every online form you send on an unsecured page, including any search engine.

              Also, most data in Facebook is rumor and gossip, people attempting to create a highlight reel of their miserable lives. Twitter even worse–all opinions and attacks.

              I don’t see how mandating a opt out option would be unacceptable to isps, they know most users are too lazy to use it. Just as they are too lazy voting to put in representatives that protect their privacy. Idiots get what they voted for. Corporate puppets, all of them.

            2. Yes- you can ‘opt out’, but if history is any indication, Google et al will just change the privacy rules, as they’ve done over and over again with our public schools. This has been one of the many frustrations of the EFF vs. Google.

              And to say that FB collects mostly ‘gossip’ type stuff is just naive. Check their privacy policy and look into the types of information they sell to advertisers and businesses.

              Any individual ISP only has collection jusrisdiction over their own customers data. So the amount of data each individual ISP can collect is paltry compared to, say, Google, who has access to every customer regardless of which ISP they use.

              For the record, I’m not defending this in any way. I’m all for privacy. I avoid Google and FB like the plague.

  6. If you think a federal database of who owns guns is bad, this should not sit well with you. Your gun interest can be connected with gun shows you RSVP with online and everything you look at and order.

    It’s NOT a big stretch to realize that data WILL eventually end up in a government database. After all, of private companies can buy it, then so can the government.

  7. This vote was bought and paid for by TelCo/ISP/Cable Lobbyists. And Republicans- always for sale to the highest bidder- were more than happy to free (they always like the word free) your data into the annals of commerce from your ISP.

    Until Drumpf signs this, your ISP is forbidden to sell your online data to third parties because of FCC rules. Since you already pay your ISP some of the highest access rates in the developed world, you would think they might have your back, but the ISPs want to sell your location data, browsing habits and all the rest for even more profit.

    Here is the rub:
    The FCC rules said ISPs could not make you surrendering your privacy rights a condition of service (take it or leave it), that they had to report to you breaches of their cache of your data (you might want to know if North Korea has hacked Comcast’s servers), and that they had to protect your location data (might come in handy).

    Now remember, you PAY for your internet service and these common sense rules were to protect your privacy. In Republicanland, these are “job killing regulations” because we know AT&T is dirt poor after swallowing up Direct TV and soon Time-Warner and they might need some more revenue and you will be the cash cow.

    Then here is the really funny part: now Law Enforcement will not need a Warrant or NSL to get your phone and Internet Data- they can just buy it on the “free market” from your ISP or whomever else they sell it to: every non-secure website connection and all the location data in micro fine detail. And just like Pandora’s Box, once your data is in the wild your privacy and identity are fair game.

    See, this is very different from what Google or Facebook does. Google and Facebook data mine your stuff and they provide you services for free. ISPs now will be able to data mine your stuff and you still get to pay. That is your Republican Freedom and Trump’s Making America Great Again.

  8. People in Congress who hate the privacy of their constituents gave the private lives over to Wall St. for free; All Wall St. had to do is tell Congress to do it and it did Wall St.’s bidding. This is the kind of Socialism that the wealthy, the money managers always expect and get, that Wall St. demands but denies normal people.

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