Trump signs repeal of US broadband privacy rules

As expected, President Donald Trump on Monday signed a bill that overturns a Federal Communications Commission rule requiring ISPs to get permission before selling consumer browsing history and other data.

"The vote in Congress to repeal the broadband privacy rules, allowing internet service providers to spy on their customers and sell their data without consent, is a bad setback for the American public", said Susan Grant of the Consumer Federation of America.

Another campaign, started by Misha Collins of Los Angeles, has raised more than $81,000 toward a goal of publicizing the internet history only of lawmakers who voted in favor of killing the FCC privacy rules. "We did not do it before the FCC's rules were adopted, and we have no plans to do so", said Gerard Lewis, Comcast's chief privacy officer.

American consumers' privacy deserves to be protected regardless of who handles their personal information.

The providers have data on your web browsing history, app usage and geo-location. With the president's signature, the FCC's landmark rules to protect consumer privacy are wholly repealed and the FCC is barred from passing any "substantially similar" new rules.

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Following the votes in Senate and the House, AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon promised that they don't now sell users' browsing history and have no plans to do so in the future. Mobile network operators have complained that the rule hampered efforts to monetize information on customers' behavior via advertising, giving internet-based companies such as Facebook and Google-which don't actually provide broadband services-an unfair edge.

Republicans in the House of Representatives passed the resolution by a vote of 215 to 205 on Tuesday.

These rules also required broadband providers to take reasonable measures to protect customer information, although those weren't spelled out. Gigi Sohn, counselor for former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, stated that the repeal means that all these companies can now sell user data and personal information to the highest bidder without the need of users' consent, notes The Verge. "Those flawed privacy rules, which never went into effect, were created to benefit one group of favored companies, not online consumers", he said. Major internet providers like Comcast say that they do not sell that information to third parties anyway and have their own privacy policies in place. Using this private information supporters of the bill believe it will be beneficial for advertisers and marketers.

U.S. President Donald Trump listens as he holds a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not pictured) in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2017. There's a key difference for consumers, however: If you don't like the privacy practices of Facebook or Google, you can use other websites; but many communities have only one or two internet providers.

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