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The US House of Representatives has followed the Senate in voting to repeal online privacy protections architected by the Obama administration that were due to come into effect by the end of 2017.
The vote means the US internet service providers (ISPs) will no longer need consent from users to sell their browsing history, personal information and location data with advertisers and other third parties.
This data is valuable to advertisers because it provides insights into people’s shopping habits, political views, medical concerns, travel habits, sexual orientation and app usage.
The US politicians approved a resolution that uses the Congressional Review Act to prevent the privacy rules from taking effect, provoking anger and concern by privacy campaigners.
Despite supporting the repeal, Ajit Pai, president of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), said the body would work to ensure that consumers’ online privacy is protected though a consistent and comprehensive framework, reports the BBC.
Supporters said the move will increase competition by giving ISPs access to the lucrative advertising market currently dominated by the likes of Google and Facebook, but opponents say it will have the opposite effect by concentrating power in the hands of a few ISPs.
ISPs argue that allowing them to track browsing activities and share that information will enable them to provide more relevant advertising and get a better return on investments in broadband infrastructure.
But privacy campaigners maintain that while consumers can choose whether or not to use Google or Facebook, they often do not have a choice when it comes to ISPs.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a non-profit civil liberties group, said it hopes to persuade president Donald Trump that it is a bad idea to help big corporate interests by eliminating US consumers’ privacy and weakening their cyber security, reports the Guardian.
Read more about encryption
- A US government HTTPS-Only Standard directive requires that all federal websites accessible to the public must encrypt all data exchanges.
- Law enforcement officers have called for greater co-operation with the tech industry and the public to enable access to electronic communications for targeted surveillance.
- The Linux Foundation is to host an open encryption project aimed at providing a free and easy way to protect online data.
If that fails, the EFF said it will continue working to encrypt the entire web and work harder on creating tools people can use to protect their privacy from their ISPs.
The American Civil Liberties Union called the US House of Representatives’s vote “extremely disappointing” and urged the president to veto the resolution.
President Trump is yet to approve the move, but he is widely expected to do so as the White House issued a statement before the vote stating that the Trump administration supported the repeal.
The White House said the planned privacy rules “apply very different regulatory regimes” to different online companies. ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...