The Republican push to eliminate Obama-era consumer data protections is sparking a new national debate over online privacy, and putting internet companies on the defensive.
The measure blocking the online privacy rules is on the desk of President Trump, who is expected to sign it.
But the firestorm of controversy shows no signs of easing. Broadband titans such as AT&T and Comcast and web giants like Google and Facebook now find themselves under growing pressure over their privacy policies.
“We’ll definitely make it pretty clear what right was given away and the extent that it was given way,” vowed Ernesto Falcon, legislative analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The rules passed by the Federal Communications Commission would have restricted internet service providers from selling consumer data deemed “sensitive,” including app usage information and web browsing history, without consent. That data is used for targeted ads directed at consumers.
The rules passed in 2015 with little fanfare, the result of the FCC’s net neutrality rules, which brought internet providers under the agency’s authority.
Critics, though, said the FCC rules treated broadband providers such as cable and phone companies tougher than internet companies such as Yahoo or Facebook, which are able to sell their consumer data under the Federal Trade Commission’s privacy framework.
Republicans moved quickly to kill off the FCC privacy rules that were slated to take effect later this year.