Trump signs into law repeal of US consumers’ online privacy protections

It’s official: US Internet service providers and mobile data carriers will be able to to sell or share its customers’ Web browsing and app usage history and other private information to advertisers and other third parties, without having to ask those customers for permission.

US online privacy defeat

The final decision was made on Monday, when US President Donald Trump signed the resolution previously agreed on by both houses of the US Congress.

The resolution invalidates a previous decision by the Federal Communications Commission, made while former President Obama was still in charge, and will also allow broadband providers not to notify their customers of hacking or security breaches they suffered.

The current FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, who was elevated to that position by President Trump, welcomed the President’s signing of the new law.

“Those flawed privacy rules, which never went into effect, were designed to benefit one group of favored companies, not online consumers,” he said.

“American consumers’ privacy deserves to be protected regardless of who handles their personal information. In order to deliver that consistent and comprehensive protection, the Federal Communications Commission will be working with the Federal Trade Commission to restore the FTC’s authority to police Internet service providers’ privacy practices. We need to put America’s most experienced and expert privacy cop back on the beat.”

EFF policy analyst Kate Tummarello pointed out that this resolution “not only repeals the rules, it also prevents the FCC from writing similar rules in the future, throwing into question how much the FCC can do to police ISPs looking to trade off their customers’ privacy for higher profits. Because of the current legal landscape, the FTC can’t police ISPs either, leaving customers without a federal agency that can clearly protect them in this space.”

“Most Americans have only one choice for high-speed broadband service, and now these broadband monopolies can set their own privacy policies, change them on a whim, or leave us with no protections at all,” noted Chris Lewis, Vice President at Washington-based non-profit Public Knowledge.

“These companies can also force Americans to pay to preserve their online data, as some companies have posited. This potentially raises broadband prices for everyone and forces poor Americans to choose between their privacy and access to the internet.”