President Trump recently signed a bill eliminating internet privacy regulations passed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the final days of the Obama administration. The Hill reports that these rules required internet service providers to get permission from users before sharing their “sensitive” information. This includes data like location, financial information, medical records, and browsing history.
According to a report by CNN, these FCC rules had not yet gone into effect. Congress was able to repeal them through the Congressional Review Act. This permits congress and the president to repeal regulations that were recently passed by government agencies.
This adds to the complicated conversation surrounding data storage and availability, with the rise of services like cloud computing, which is projected to grow into a $79.1 billion industry by 2018. Service providers were pleased with the outcome.
“We welcome President Trump’s action today affirming Congress’ decision to hit the reset button by stopping rules that would have created a confusing and conflicting consumer privacy framework,” Jonathan Spalter, CEO of USTelecom, said in a statement following the repeal.
Ajit Pai, the FCC Chairman appointed by Trump, also showed his support in a statement.
“President Trump and Congress have appropriately invalidated one part of the Obama-era plan for regulating the Internet,” he said. “Those flawed privacy rules, which never went into effect, were designed to benefit one group of favored companies, not online consumers.”
Congressional Democrats and other progressive organizations are in strong opposition, stating that it takes autonomy away from internet users.
“It’s shocking that of all the challenges facing this country the Trump administration would prioritize taking away people’s privacy,” Craig Aron, CEO of Free Press, said in a statement to The Hill. “There is literally no public support for this bill. Its only advocates are the nation’s biggest phone, cable and Internet companies. There’s no longer any question — if there ever was — whose needs this administration intends to serve. But people everywhere are on high alert to the serious threat to the free and open Internet. And they will fight back.”
As technology advances, user information becomes more and more available. While all users run the risk of web-based security attacks, which are up 23% since 2013, this repeal keeps their information open for the creation of targeted advertisement.
As Democrats and press organizations argue against this bill, internet service providers look to the future, The Hill reports.
“Hopefully, this week’s action by Congress gets us back on the path to a more rational and consumer-friendly framework,” Bob Quinn, an ATandT lobbyist, wrote in a blog post. “I am also hopeful that facts actually work their way back into the debate.”
Photo by Andrew Harnik, AP