Back in October 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) imposed privacy rules that required Internet and mobile phone corporations to get consent from their customers before sharing personal data with advertisers.
But yesterday (March 28) -- amid news of the Russian spy scandal, the failed healthcare vote, the Gorsuch hearing, and more -- the House voted to repeal these rules.
Now the provisions are waiting to be signed into law by the president.
When passed, it means the likes of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA) -- an ISP that's made our "most hated companies" list for three years straight -- will immediately begin to spy on you, selling to the highest bidder your:
- Financial information
- Health information
- Web browsing history
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), as well as any other company that provides Internet or mobile phone services in the United States, would be alongside Comcast in the spy game. Each will be greenlighted to track, gather, use, and sell your data to third-party companies.
Here's why the Congress thinks this should be allowed...
The Senate's Argument for Loosening No-Spy Rules
When the Senate measure was introduced by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and 23 other Republican sponsors, he said he wanted to "protect consumers from overreaching Internet regulations." FCC Chairman Ajit Pai argued that consumers would be confused if there were different privacy rules for ISPs than for "edge" companies, i.e., Alphabet Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOGL) and Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB). He said, "American consumers should not have to be lawyers or engineers to figure out if their information is protected."
The thing is, you don't have to be a lawyer or an engineer -- it's actually quite easy to understand.
You see, ISPs have access to everything consumers do online. They know every website a user visits, their geographical location, and what devices they're using.
On the other hand, edge companies only see a small portion of a consumer's Internet traffic, such as the ads you click on.
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Additionally, ISPs charge for their services, while most edge companies are free, creating different expectations with regard to how personal information is protected.
Plus, it's easier for consumers to choose whether they want to use Facebook or an alternative service; but when it comes to choosing ISPs, 78% of Americans don't have a choice between providers, according to a recent FCC report -- not to mention there's a high cost associated with switching providers.
Should the president sign the measures into law, here's what consumers can expect...