Icognito cant save us now.
Incognito can't save us now. ROYALTY-FREE/GETTYIMAGES.COM

Sponsored
Pacific Northwest Ballet presents: Romeo et Juliette at McCaw Hall
Romeo et Juliette returns to PNB to sweep you off your feet – just in time for Valentine’s Day!

In a 215-205 vote today, Republican congressional representatives overwhelmingly voted in favor of repealing broadband privacy rules established by the Federal Communications Commission. Until today, those rules protected consumers' information—shopping habits, browsing history, app usage history, and location—from being sold off to the highest bidding internet service providers (ISPs). The bill was first passed by the Senate last week in a vote that fell along party lines.

Trump is expected to sign off on the measure.

From The Washington Post:

Congress's joint resolution empowers Internet providers to enter the $83 billion market for online advertising now dominated by Google and Facebook. It is likely to lend momentum to a broader GOP rollback of Obama-era technology policies, and calls into question the fate of other tech regulations such as net neutrality, which was approved in 2015 over strident Republican objections and bans Internet providers from discriminating against websites. And it is a sign that companies such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon will be treated more permissively at a time when conservatives control both the executive and legislative branches.


“The FCC’s broadband privacy rules will harm consumers by creating confusion within the internet-ecosystem and we are dedicated to ensuring the most effective and efficient privacy protections possible,” Tennesseean Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, who is the chair of the House subcommittee overseeing the FCC, said in a statement.

“These rules are nothing more than a big government power grab that will hurt hardworking taxpayers, and I’m thankful the House took an important step today in protecting consumers and the future of internet innovations," she said.

But this vote undoes protections for consumers, The Verge reports.

It’s hard to see this as anything but a major loss for consumers. While reversing the FCC’s privacy rules will technically just maintain the status quo — internet providers have actually been able to sell your web browsing data forever (it’s just not a thing we think about all that much) — they were about to lose permission to keep doing it, unless they got explicit consent or anonymized the info.

This is an increasingly important issue as Americans spend more and more time online — and keep more and more devices with them at all times. Internet providers can see what sites you visit and what apps you use, and they can see how long you’re using them for. That information is extremely revealing, and it’s easy to imagine most people would prefer to keep their reading habits private.

“The consequences of passing this resolution are clear: broadband providers like AT&T, Comcast, and others will be able to sell your personal information to the highest bidder without your permission,” said Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA) on the House floor this afternoon. “And no one will be able to protect you, not even the Federal Trade Commission that our friends on the other side of the aisle keep talking about.”

Tech site Ars Technica explained that the resolution now "eliminates the FCC's privacy rules without any immediate action to return jurisdiction to the FTC, which is prohibited from regulating common carriers such as ISPs and phone companies."

And Democratic representatives weren't happy about the vote, they reported.

"I have a simple question: what the heck are you thinking?" Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) said in debate on the House floor. "What is in your mind? Why would you want to give up any of your personal information to a faceless corporation for the sole purpose of them selling it? Give me one good reason why Comcast should know my mother’s medical problems."

Capuano said that ISPs can discover customers' medical conditions by seeing what illnesses and drugs they search for on the Internet.

"Just last week I bought underwear on the Internet. Why should you know what size I take or the color?" Capuano said. ISPs could take that information and sell it to underwear companies who might show him advertisements, he said.

And "incognito" mode or other "private" browsing settings aren't going to save you, either, Ars Technica writes.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pointed out that ISPs can track customers' Web browsing even when they enable their browser's "private mode," which does not encrypt Internet traffic. Google, for example, says that Chrome's incognito mode prevents the Chrome browser itself from saving the sites that you visit, but does not stop ISPs and websites from seeing which websites you've visited.

Here are some thoughts from Twitter:




Sponsored
Fannie: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer: Jan 13-Feb 14 at Bagley Wright Theatre
Part theater, part revival, and all power, this one-woman show will have your head nodding and hands clapping!