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Should Internet service providers be allowed to sell your browsing data?

A Cuban woman provides a reservation service from a laptop in a rental house in Havana, on July 10, 2015.
A Cuban woman provides a reservation service from a laptop in a rental house in Havana, on July 10, 2015.

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You might be unaware that your internet service provider can sell your browsing history to an advertiser.

Obama-era Federal Communication Commission (FCC) rules, scheduled to go in effect late this year, would require providers to get users’ consent before sharing or selling this sensitive data, but these regulations are now in jeopardy. Last week the Senate voted 50-48 to prevent the regulations from going into effect and today the legislation is in the House– if passed, the joint resolution will land on Trump’s desk.

Consumer protection advocates argue that this move prioritizes the interests of industry over users’ privacy. There’s also concern that the strategy of using the Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress the power to null decisions made by federal agencies and keep them from passing “substantially similar” rules, could endanger future privacy protections.

Critics of the regulation argue that the FCC’s definition of sensitive information is too broad and that internet providers shouldn’t be held to a different standard than the likes of Google and Facebook.

Do these regulations create an uneven playing field for internet providers? Or does this resolution jeopardize consumers’ online privacy?


Jon Leibowitz,  former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission and co-chair of the 21st Century Privacy Coalition, a group formed by U.S. communications companies

Klint Finley, reporter for Wired, he wrote an article on the rules rollback:“The Senate Prepares to Send Internet Privacy Down a Black Hole,” he tweets @klintron