In a major blow to consumer privacy, President Trump signed a resolution today reversing an Obama-era rule that restricted what internet providers could do with their customers’ data.
Most notably, the privacy rule would have prevented internet providers from using, sharing, or selling a subscriber’s web browsing history without first getting their explicit permission. The rule also required internet providers to take “reasonable” steps to secure data from hackers and to notify customers in the event of a breach.
But Republicans argued that the rules were confusing to consumers and unfair to internet providers. They said that it didn’t make sense for the rules to not also cover web companies like Facebook and Google.
The argument isn’t particular sound: internet providers deliver data, while Facebook and Google run businesses on the web — two distinctly different tasks. But that didn’t stop Republicans from passing a resolution to reverse the privacy order in both the House and Senate.
Speaking to the press last Thursday, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said killing the rules “will allow service providers to be treated fairly and consumer protection and privacy concerns to be reviewed on an equal playing field.”
But there’s not really a positive takeaway here for consumers. While the nightmare scenario of individually identifiable browser histories getting sold is unlikely to come to pass, spiking these regulations very much gives internet providers more leeway when using your data to target ads.
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This article has been updated with video.