Trump to Get Internet Privacy Bill 03/29 06:10
Congress has sent President Donald Trump legislation that would kill an
online privacy regulation, a move that could eventually allow internet
providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to sell the browsing habits of
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congress has sent President Donald Trump legislation that
would kill an online privacy regulation, a move that could eventually allow
internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to sell the browsing
habits of their customers.
The Federal Communications Commission rule issued in October was designed to
give consumers greater control over how internet service providers share
information. But critics said the rule would have stifled innovation and picked
winners and losers among Internet companies.
The House voted 215-205 to reject the rule. The Senate had already voted to
the block it.
The vote is part of an extensive effort that Republicans have undertaken to
void an array of regulations issued during the final months of Democratic
President Barack Obama's tenure. But the vote was closer this time with 15
Republicans siding with Democrats in the effort to keep the rule in place.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Republicans put profits over
the privacy concerns of Americans.
"Overwhelmingly, the American people do not agree with Republicans that this
information should be sold, and it certainly should not be sold without your
permission," Pelosi said. "Our broadband providers know deeply personal
information about us and our families."
Internet companies like Google don't have to ask users' permission before
tracking what sites they visit. Republicans and industry groups have blasted
that discrepancy, saying it was unfair and confusing for consumers.
But proponents of the privacy measure argued that the company that sells you
your internet connection can see even more about consumers, such as every
website they visit and whom they exchange emails with. That information would
be particularly useful for advertisers and marketers.
Undoing the FCC regulation leaves people's online information in a murky
area. Experts say federal law still requires broadband providers to protect
customer information --- but it doesn't spell out how or what companies must
do. That's what the FCC rule aimed to do.
The Trump-appointed chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, is a critic of the
broadband privacy rules and has said he wants to roll them back. He and other
Republicans want a different federal agency, the Federal Trade Commission, to
police privacy for both broadband companies like AT&T and internet companies
like Google. GOP lawmakers said they care about consumer privacy every bit as
much as Democrats did.
Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California said the FTC has acted as
America's online privacy regulator since the dawn of the internet. He called
the rule an effort to strip the agency of that role.
"The internet has become the amazing tool that it is because it is largely
left untouched by regulation_and that shouldn't stop now," McCarthy said.
Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas parted ways with his Republican
colleagues on the issue. He said the privacy protections were "commonsense
measures" that would have ensured internet users continue to have control over
their personal information.
"We don't want the government having access to our information without our
consent, and the same goes for private business," Yoder said.
Broadband providers don't currently fall under FTC jurisdiction, and
advocates say it has historically been a weaker agency than the FCC.
The American Civil Liberties Union urged Trump to veto the resolution,
appealing to his populist side.
"President Trump now has the opportunity to veto this resolution and show he
is not just a president for CEOs but for all Americans, said the ACLU's Neema
Republicans repeatedly discounted the privacy benefits generated by the
rule. Over the last two months, they've voted to repeal more than a dozen
Obama-era regulations in the name of curbing government overreach. The
criticism of their efforts was particularly harsh Tuesday.
"Lawmakers who voted in favor of this bill just sold out the American people
to special interests," said Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo.