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US House of Representatives votes to scrap FCC privacy rules

In order to make the internet a place we can all enjoy, rules on net neutrality and privacy were put in place to make sure that no ISP or advertiser can leverage its dominance in the detriment of the consumer. All that took a massive blow last Friday, when the US Senate voted to scrap these rules, in the benefit of ISPs. Guess what the US House of Representatives did on March 28?

With a vote of 215 to 205 along party lines, the House agreed to the contents of the bill, thus repealing the FCC's latest (and expanded) set of broadband privacy rules. This would basically allow ISPs to sell consumers' browsing data without obstacle.

On the reasoning behind the approval, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Tex.) said the FCC rules were an arbitrary government intervention in the free market, which can inhibit security and market competition. Furthermore, he stated that the cybersecurity notification requirements could lead to "notice fatigue", simultaneously causing confusion due to "subjecting part of the Internet ecosystem to different rules and jurisdictions".

The move is of course particularly troubling because the FCC's chair, Ajit Pai, is a huge opponent of consumer protection rules.

Although the bill was agreed upon on a closed rule, meaning no amendments could accompany it, the Democrats opposed said rule, trying to add an amendment that would have made President Trump, and future Presidents and presidential candidates, release their tax returns.

On the matter of rolling back these privacy rules, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) said that this would be the 15th CRA (Constitutional Review Act) passed by the House in order to "bring back common sense regulation".

This "common sense regulation" will also ensure that in the future, the FCC will not be able to adopt broadly similar privacy protections, of course swaying thing in the ISPs' favour. In fact, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) noted that with this move, the Republicans are trying to shift the burden of cybersecurity from the ISP to the consumer. He thus called this action an "irrevocable step in the wrong direction".

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) stated that ISPs should always ask for permission when using a subscriber's information, regardless of whether it is sensitive information or not.

Now, only the President's signature is required to make the bill official.

Source: Multichannel | US Capitol building image: Shutterstock

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