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Thursday, March 23, 2017
U.S. Senate Puts ISP Profits Over Your Privacy

The U.S. Senate just voted to roll back online privacy protections - regulations requiring internet service providers to do more to protect customers' privacy than websites like Google or Facebook.

ISPs have been lobbying for weeks to get lawmakers to repeal the FCC's rules that stand between them and using more ways to track and profit off of your every move online. Republicans in the Senate on Thursday voted 50-48 (with two absent votes) to approve a Congressional Review Action resolution from Sen. Jeff Flake which would not only roll back the FCC's rules but also prevent the FCC from writing similar rules in the future.

According to the rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission in October under then-President Barack Obama, internet providers would need to obtain consumer consent before using precise geolocation, financial information, health information, children's information and web browsing history for advertising and internal marketing.

"ISPs act as gatekeepers to the Internet, giving them incredible access to records of what you do online. They shouldn't be able to profit off of the information about what you search for, read about, purchase, and more without your consent," commented EFF's KAte Tummarello.

Internet providers such as AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications had strongly opposed the rules.

The bill next goes to the U.S. House of Representatives, but it was not clear when they would take up the measure.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said consumers would have privacy protections even without the Obama administration internet provider rules.

In a joint statement, Democratic members of the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission said the Senate vote "creates a massive gap in consumer protection law as broadband and cable companies now have no discernible privacy requirements."

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