US Senate resolution aims to roll back privacy rules for ISPs

US Senate resolution aims to roll back privacy rules for ISPs

A resolution introduced in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday aims to roll back privacy rules for broadband service providers that were approved by the Federa

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A resolution introduced in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday aims to roll back privacy rules for broadband service providers that were approved by the Federal Communications Commission in October.

The rules include the requirement that internet service providers like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon should obtain “opt-in” consent from consumers to use and share sensitive personal information such as geolocation and web browsing history, and also give customers the option to opt out from the sharing of non-sensitive information such as email addresses or service tier information.

The rules have been opposed by internet service providers who argue that they are being treated differently from other Internet entities like search engines and social networking companies.

The providers secured a win last week when the now Republican-dominated FCC decided that the operation of the data security provisions would be temporarily halted in view of a stay petition by providers. The data protection rules were to come into force last Thursday.

The new resolution introduced by Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, is backed by over 20 Republican co-sponsors.

It aims to provide for congressional disapproval of the FCC rule relating to ‘‘Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services’’ under the Congressional Review Act, a 1996 law that empowers Congress to repeal federal regulations, according to a statement issued by Flake, who is also chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law. The resolution under the CRA would also prevent the FCC from issuing “similarly harmful regulations” in the future, it added.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who on Tuesday was nominated for a second term five-year term at the agency by President Donald Trump, favors uniform rules on privacy for Internet companies, with the Federal Trade Commission rather than the FCC setting those rules. His renomination requires Senate confirmation.

“The federal government shouldn’t favor one set of companies over another—and certainly not when it comes to a marketplace as dynamic as the internet,” Pai said in a joint statement last week with FTC Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen.

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