Your privacy has just been sold!

4 months ago Citizen#7 0

Last week the US. Senate voted to repeal the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and Federal Communications Commission’s 2016 broadband privacy rules giving consumers the power to choose how their ISPs use and share their personal data to ISPs. The vote was down party lines. The repeal was authored by Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

Sen. Flake (R-AZ) claims “the FTC can no longer police the privacy practices of providers, leaving us with a two-track system under which the FCC applies its own set of rules for ISPs while the FTC monitors the rest of the internet ecosystem. The 2016 Privacy Rules to some extent do create two sets of rules. There is a good reason for the differences between the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the rules put in place by President Obama in 2015 borrowed generously from the privacy and data security enforcement standards of the FTC. There is one major difference. The FCC protects consumers before they are harmed and the FTC protects consumers after they are harmed. Harm from unauthorized and illegal use of personal information can be economic, social, and sometimes even physical.

The argument ISPs have made to Congress is they are being treated unfairly because they have to adhere to standards that Google, Facebook, and others don’t have to abide by. Let’s be clear ISP’s and Google aren’t the same. ISP’s see everything you do online-everything, every click, website, email, etc. Google sees a small subset of what your internet traffic / habits are when you are on their website including what you do, and where you go when you click away.

Here is what current privacy rules do for you.

The Telecommunications Act protected consumers in four crucial ways:

ISPs must:

  • Tell customers about what types of information they collect, how they use that information, and with whom they share that information
  • Obtain affirmative permission (opt in) from customers to use and share sensitive information like financial and health information, Social Security numbers, web browsing, and application usage history. For non-sensitive information, customers must be allowed to opt out of use and sharing of that information at any time and with minimum effort
  • Take reasonable measures to keep customers’ data secure
  • Give customers timely notice of data breaches, and in the event of a larger breach, give notice to law enforcement officials.

Tomorrow 3-28-17, the House of Representatives will vote, and if the House also votes to repeal the rules,the bill will go to President Trump who will likely sign the bill.

If  Congress wanted to get to one set of rules for both I.S.P’s and companies like Google and Facebook they could  pass a law requiring Facebook, Google, etc., to meet the higher FCC privacy standards that affords consumers more protection not settle for the lower standard FTC privacy rules. We need more privacy protections not less.

If the bill passes, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast, AT&T, and Charter will be free to sell your personal information to the highest bidder without your permission — and no one will be able to protect you until you have been harmed. The Federal Trade Commission has no legal authority to oversee ISP practices, and the bill under consideration ensures that the FCC cannot adopt “substantially similar” rules. So unless the bill fails in the House, the nation’s strongest privacy protections will not only be eliminated, they cannot be revived by the FCC.

Please contact your House of Representatives Legislator today and voice your objection to the repeal of consumer protections.

House of Representatives