US lawmakers have voted to roll back rules that could prevent internet service provider (ISP) companies from selling users’ data to third parties without their consent.
The lawmakers at the US House of Representatives voted 215-205 on Tuesday to overturn the Federal Communications Commission (FFC) rule and sent the legislation to President Donald Trump for signing, following a heated debate over digital privacy protections.
The Republican-led Senate had voted 50 to 48 last week to reverse the privacy rules passed last October under the US Freedom Act during the administration of former President Barack Obama. The White House had earlier said that the new US president strongly supported the repeal of the rules.
The Tuesday measure followed a fierce debate over the rule that would have required service providers to get permission before selling customer data to third parties. Privacy campaigners say repealing the previous laws without a new legislative framework in place could create an enforcement vacuum.
US House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi speaks to the press on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on March 24, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Republicans claim the FCC’s rules confuse customers because they only cover Internet providers and not companies like Google and Facebook.
Earlier this month, two dozen Republican senators filed a joint resolution to cancel the new privacy rules imposed on Internet service providers and to prevent the FCC from taking similar action in the future.
Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi opposed the Tuesday bill, saying “Americans shouldn’t have to give up every shred of privacy when they go online.”
During a floor debate, she said that, “Republicans want this (private) information to be sold without your permission.”
Violation of online privacy especially by the CIA and the NSA (National Security Agency) has been the subject of lingering debate in the US as the two spy agencies have already been accused of using social networking sites to gather personal information of people worldwide.