Online Privacy Takes a Hit With Senate Vote

ISPs could soon be able to sell your data without permission
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2017 5:14 PM CDT
ISPs Could Soon Be Able to Sell Your Data Without Permission
The Capitol Building is illuminated against the sunrise before the presidential inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Soon, internet service providers may be able to share or sell your data without your permission. The Federal Communications Commission approved rules last year banning ISPs from doing just that, but on Thursday, the Senate voted along party lines, 50-48, to bar the FCC from enforcing those rules, even though the rules aren't set to go into effect until December. As NBC News reports, there's "little immediate impact" to the vote, as the House must first pass the measure and President Trump would then need to sign it into law, and a House vote is not yet scheduled. Some of the discussion surrounding the vote:

  • As NBC explains, Google and Facebook accounted for 90% of all new online ad spending in the first half of last year, which means every other entity on the web has to compete for the final 10%. Supporters of this measure say it will level the playing field somewhat for those companies.

  • Online privacy advocates, however, oppose the measure; an ACLU rep says the Senate voted to "sacrifice the privacy rights of Americans in the interest of protecting the profits of major internet companies, including Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon."
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation is not happy, calling the vote "a crushing loss for online privacy" and urging consumers to act.
  • But marketing groups are in favor of the move, AdWeek reports. The Data & Marketing Association thinks consumers should be, too: "Consumers understand the value that relevant ads provide, and put the value of the services they get for free on the internet at $1,200 per year," a rep says.
  • For more details, Ars Technica has an explainer of how ISPs might be able to sell your web history.
(More online privacy stories.)

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