U.S. Senate votes to strip away Americans' online privacy

Your service provider needs permission to sell your private information under current rules. But that might be changing if the House follows the Senate's lead on S.J Res 34.

Senate Joint Resolution 34 is congressional disapproval of the Federal Communications Commission rules relating to "Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services". The U.S. Senate voted 50 - 48 today to pass this resolution under the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers 60 days to repeal a law before it's enacted.

A similar repeal vote from the House would roll back the requirement of broadband internet providers to get your permission before sharing personal information like your location, your web history and financial details with any third party. In addition, it would prevent the FCC from writing similar rules in the future.

Five Creepy Things Your ISP Could Do if Congress Repeals the FCC's Privacy Protections (EFF.org)

As predicted, the vote went along party lines with 50 Republicans voting Aye and 46 Democrats along with two Independents voting Nay on the resolution. Isakson (R-GA) and Paul (R-KY) abstained.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for debate and a vote.

The major talking points of the FCC rule adopted in December 2016 are considerations of user privacy. They read as follows:

  • Opt-in Approval. We adopt rules requiring carriers to obtain customers' opt-in approval for use and sharing of sensitive customer PI (and for material retroactive changes to carriers' privacy policies). A familiar example of opt-in practices appears when a mobile application asks for permission to use geolocation information.
  • Opt-out Approval. Balancing important governmental interests in protecting consumer privacy and the potential benefits that may result from the use of non-sensitive customer PI, we adopt rules requiring carriers to obtain customers' opt-out approval for the use and sharing of non-sensitive customer PI.

Other sections of the rule require broadband providers to notify subscribers in the event of a data breach and serve to establish a baseline of what data is private and how it needs to be handled. The Senate voted to strip the rule in its entirety.

If you disagree with this decision and want to talk to your representative about the situation, you'll find their contact details right here.

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Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.