US House votes to repeal Obama's internet privacy protections

James Tennent
uk broadband internet cable connection online

The US House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to roll back measures brought in during the final months of the Obama administration that would have required internet service providers (ISPs) in the country to expressly ask the permission of consumers before collecting and sharing or selling-on their data.

The rules were intended to help consumers control their personal data but opponents of the rules said it would leave large online companies like Facebook free to continue their own data collections while ISPs were held back.

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One Republican was quoted by CNN as telling the House that overturning the planned regulations would "level the playing field for an increasingly anti-competative market." No plans as of yet have been put forward to increase the scope of the protections, lawmakers deciding instead to simply roll back the regulations that would have been put in place.

One report suggested that the Congressional Review Act, the process Congress used to repeal the regulations, even stops similar rules being written in the future.

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The legislation to turn back the regulations now falls to the White House, which said in a statement that it "strongly supports" the move, arguing that the rules "apply very different regulatory regimes" on differing online companies.

If it were presented to the president, the statement said "his advisors would recommend that he sign the bill into law." The roll back has already passed the Senate, with senators voting 50-48 along party lines.

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The American Civil Liberties Union called the House's vote "extremely disappointing" and urged the president to veto the resolution: "Congress is sacrificing the privacy rights of Americans in the interest of protecting the profits of major internet companies including Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon." ACLU Legislative Counsel Neema Singh Guliani said in a statement.

"President Trump now has the opportunity to veto this resolution and show he is not just a president for CEOs but for all Americans. Trump should use his power to protect everyone's right to privacy.""

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