The United States Senate moved Thursday to undo regulations from the Obama administration that would have forced internet service providers to seek customer permission before they could use or sell parts of their personal information. The Senate voted along party lines, 50–48, to eliminate the rules that were put in place this past October. The rules had not yet taken effect.
The rules would have required internet service providers to obtain customer approval before telling an advertiser what websites the user visited, the user’s health and financial information, the user’s physical location or what apps the user used. Under the rules, it is likely that many users would have not affirmatively given permission to internet service providers to use, share or sell this information.
The regulations met many challenges from Republicans and industry groups, who claimed that these rules were tougher than the requirements faced by digital-advertising entities. Such entities do not have to ask a user’s permission before tracking what sites the user visits. Many opponents to the regulations pointed to these discrepancies in voicing their concern. The current chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Trump-appointee, Ajit Pat, has said that privacy standards should be uniform for internet providers and internet companies.
Utilizing the Congressional Review Act, which permits lawmakers to undo regulations enacted in the last months of the previous administration with a majority vote, the Senate was able to pull back these regulations and avoid the Democrats’ filibuster power. Further, undoing this regulation means that a future FCC could not pass this privacy measure again.
The House of Representatives and President Trump must also approve rolling back the privacy rules.