US President Donald Trump is moving to repeal broadband privacy rules put in place during the Obama-era, according to reports. Republicans in Congress passed the repeal of the privacy rules on Tuesday, March 28, and didn’t receive any support from the Democrats.
The net privacy argument in the US sets the stage for a much larger issue later this year over Republican plans to overturn the net neutrality provisions which were adopted by the former administration of Barack Obama in 2015. White House spokesman Sean Spicer has not yet indicated when President Trump plans to sign the bill.
The privacy bill introduced during the Obama-era by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires internet service providers (ISPs) to do more to protect customers’ privacy than websites such as Alphabet’s Google or Facebook. The Trump administration plans to repeal these regulations.
The new rules, according to a Reuters report, would require internet providers to obtain consumer permission to use precise geo-location, financial information, health information, children’s information and web browsing history for advertising and marketing.
The move benefits the likes of AT&T, Comcast Corp and Verizon. Websites must meet less restrictive privacy rules overseen by the Federal Trade Commission.
Republican commissioners have argued that the rules would unfairly enable websites to harvest more data than ISPs.
The vote was “Terrible for American ppl, great for big biz,” tweeted Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.
The next step for the Republicans is to overturn net neutrality provisions that in 2015 reclassified providers and treated them as a public utility.
The new Chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, said in December that the era of net neutrality will soon come to an end. The rules prevent ISPs from slowing down consumer access to web content and prohibit giving or selling access to faster internet to certain internet services – essentially providing a “fast lane” to the web’s “information superhighway”.
The rules have been criticized for allowing the potential of government rate regulation, tighter oversight, and would provide fewer incentives to invest billions in broadband infrastructure.
Pai is in favor of a “free and open internet,” he told Reuters in February, “and a free and open internet and the only questions is what regulatory framework best secures that.”