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For Sale: Your Internet Browsing History

The US House of Representatives voted Tuesday to eliminate ISP privacy rules, following the Senate vote to take the same action last week. The legislation to kill the rules now heads to President Donald Trump for his signature or veto.

The White House issued a statement today supporting the House’s action, and saying that Trump’s advisors will recommend that he sign the legislation. That would make the death of the Federal Communications Commission’s privacy rules official.

The rules issued by the FCC last year would have required home Internet and mobile broadband providers to get consumers’ opt-in consent before selling or sharing Web browsing history, app usage history, and other private information with advertisers and other companies. But lawmakers used their authority under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to pass a joint resolution ensuring that the rules “shall have no force or effect” and that the FCC cannot issue similar regulations in the future.

CRA resolutions require the president’s signature, and several Republican attempts to undo Obama administration regulations were vetoed by President Obama. But with both Congress and the White House now in Republican hands, Trump yesterday signed four resolutions to remove recently issued regulations.

Republicans argue that the Federal Trade Commission should regulate ISPs‘ privacy practices instead of the FCC. But the resolution passed today eliminates the FCC’s privacy rules without any immediate action to return jurisdiction to the FTC, which is prohibited from regulating common carriers such as ISPs and phone companies.

If Trump signs the resolution to eliminate privacy rules, ISPs won’t have to seek customer approval before sharing their browsing histories and other private information with advertisers.

The House vote was 215 to 205, with most Republicans voting to eliminate privacy rules and all Democrats voting to preserve them. Full vote results are available here. The Senate vote last week was 50-48, with lawmakers voting entirely along party lines

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