Congress Overturns Internet Privacy Regulation

"Gutting these privacy rules won't just allow Internet Service Providers to spy on us and sell our personal information, it will also enable more unconstitutional mass government surveillance", said Evan Greer, a campaign director at digital rights group Fight for the Future, in a statement.

Last week, the Senate in a 50-48 vote made a decision to repeal regulations that demand ISPs to do more to protect user data than tech companies like Google or Facebook.

Update: The House of Representatives has now passed the same resolution by a vote of 215-205, sending the bill to the President.

"Today's action is another step to remove unnecessary rules and regulations that handicap economic growth and innovation, and moves the country one step closer to ensuring that consumers' private information is protected uniformly across the entire internet ecosystem", said USTelecom CEO Jonathan Spalter.

Leading Democrat Nancy Pelosi said the Republican-led effort was putting profits over the privacy concerns of Americans.

During floor debate, she said "Republicans want this (private) information to be sold without your permission". The new bill not only strikes down the current rules, but forces the FCC to never attempt this kind of regulation again.

Thirteen Republicans voted against the bill and nine House lawmakers abstained from voting.

Apple has released a new low-cost iPad
In a slew of announcements on Tuesday, Apple announced a new 9.7-inch iPad that will start at Rs 28,900, replacing the iPad Air 2. I spend most of my time on my MacBook Pro or iPhone so a $329 iPad feels more appropriate for my own casual use.

After passing the Senate days before, the repeal of the FCCs privacy rules today passed through the House of Representatives.

Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement that previous year, the FCC had pushed through, on a party-line vote, privacy regulations created to benefit one group of "favoured companies over another group of disfavoured companies".

If the new resolution goes into effect, the burden will be placed on consumers to opt out of such data practices - something many Internet users aren't aware of.

Critics said the repeal would weaken consumers' privacy protections. But thanks to the ISP's classification as a "common carrier" (the same as airlines or railways), they are exempt from the Federal Trade Commission's privacy rules, which apply to most other industries.

Internet service providers will now be able to sell customer data to the highest bidder and compete with companies like Google and Facebook which use such data to target online advertising. While regulators under President Barack Obama had moved to limit the power of Internet providers - by restricting what they could do with customer information, and curbing their ability to block websites or slow down certain types of content - momentum appears to be moving in the opposite direction. In 2013, AT&T launched a program to charge customers who refused to give their data to advertisers $29 more a month, but it dropped the program shortly before the FCC confirmed its privacy rules. "And the major difference here is that your internet provider sees everything". He also said that responsibility for regulating Internet providers should fall to the FTC.

The measure overturns the rules under the Congressional Review Act - a 1996 law that allows federal lawmakers to vacate recent agency decisions.


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