A worrying development for the average web surfer
The US Senate has voted to cast aside privacy regulations that stop ISPs from sharing users’ browser data (and other personal information) with third-parties.
The Senate voted 50-48 (following party lines) to overturn the regulations which were approved by the FCC last autumn, with today’s decision meaning that the rules “shall have no force or effect”, as Ars Technica reports.
Specifically, the FCC’s rules want to force ISPs to have to get consent from the user before they can sell or share data pertaining to that user – including browsing history, app usage, and personal information that could include financial or health details.
With the regulations, users would have to opt-in to allow this sort of information to be shared. Without them, there is no need for ISPs to get consent before they can make use of their subscribers’ data.
That said, the FCC’s rules aren’t binned just yet, because this reversal of course still has to be approved by the House (and dodge any potential Presidential veto).
Violation of privacy
As Senator for Massachusetts, Ed Markey, commented: “President Trump may be outraged by fake violations of his own privacy, but every American should be alarmed by the very real violation of privacy that will result [from] the Republican roll-back of broadband privacy protections.”
The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) observed: “ISPs act as gatekeepers to the internet, giving them incredible access to records of what you do online. They shouldn’t be able to profit off of the information about what you search for, read about, purchase, and more without your consent.
“We can still kill this in the House: call your lawmakers today and tell them to protect your privacy from your ISP.”
While you might not be able to do much about what ISPs get up to with supplied personal details, at least when it comes to your web browsing, it’s possible to avoid being tracked by signing up to a VPN service.
If all this goes through as it’s now shaping up to, there may well be a big uptick in the numbers of folks using a Virtual Private Network.