March 23, 2017 Last Updated 2:57 pm

In win for advertisers, loss for consumers, Senate votes to rollback broadband privacy rules

The action was supposed to be in the House today, the day representatives would vote to approve or reject Trumpcare. But the votes simply were not there and so the vote has been delayed at least until tomorrow.

But in the Senate, a vote along party lines, 50-48, passed a bill to overturn new privacy rules for internet service providers, previously approved by the Federal Communications Commission. The rules were meant to protect consumer data, but was objected to by both the ISPs and advertising trade associations.

Introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and in the House by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the bill immediately got the support of gthe American Association of Advertising Agencies, American Advertising Federation, Association of National Advertisers, Data & Marketing Association, Interactive Advertising Bureau, and the Network Advertising Initiative.

“Our digital economy is the global leader, providing billions of dollars in ad-supported content and services to consumers, and the innovation and investment that have driven its success have rested on robust, consistent self-regulatory privacy standards backstopped by the Federal Trade Commission,” the coalition of ad association’s said on March 13. “Without prompt action in Congress or at the FCC, the FCC’s regulations would break with well-accepted and functioning industry practices, chilling innovation and hurting the consumers the regulation was supposed to protect.”

But consumer groups opposed the bill. “These companies have built a ‘big data’ business model to track — and profit — from our every move online,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy.

After the vote, the two Democratic members of the FCC, Mignon Clyburn and Terrell McSweeny issued a statement expressing disappointment with the Senate’s actions.

Today the Senate voted along party lines to dismantle the FCC’s broadband privacy rules. If signed by the President, this law would repeal the FCC’s widely-supported broadband privacy framework, and eliminate the requirement that cable and broadband providers offer customers a choice before selling their sensitive, personal information,” said FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny.

“This legislation will frustrate the FCC’s future efforts to protect the privacy of voice and broadband customers.  It also creates a massive gap in consumer protection law as broadband and cable companies now have no discernible privacy requirements.”

President Trump has made a policy of the administration to rollback regulations on business, even at the cost of consumers or the environment, and even signing an executive order on January 30 stating that “whenever an executive department or agency (agency) publicly proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates a new regulation, it shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed.”

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