U.S. Congress votes to let ISPs sell your browsing data

S.J.Res 34 gives the likes of Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast permission to sell your private internet history to the highest bidder.
Privacy news
2 mins
S.J.Res 34 strips FCC's power

On March 23rd, 2017, the U.S. Senate voted to remove internet privacy protections enacted by the FCC.

Two days later, The House of Representatives followed suit. Once the President gives his signature, the likes of Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast can start selling your private internet history to the highest bidder.

U.S. Congress voted for S.J.Res 34, which takes the responsibility of broadband privacy regulation away from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The ruling will also disallow the FCC from making future regulations that would protect your online privacy.

The resolution is a huge slap in the face for internet users (i.e., everyone).

What does S.J.Res 34 do?

The United States Senate voted 50-48 to prevent FCC privacy laws from going into effect.

The FCC sought to prohibit providers from abusing customer data, but many senators argued the regulations went too far.

The FCC’s regulations placed limits on what internet providers are allowed to divulge. Sensitive information—like customer data, mobile location data, and browsing data—couldn’t be shared or sold.

Senators who voted for the resolution argued the FCC’s power to make rules on internet privacy should be limited, though state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can still hold internet providers accountable for privacy abuses.

To hold privacy abusers accountable after the fact makes the law reactionary rather than preventative and does little to stop the ISPs from doing as they will. Of course, those found guilty of privacy misdemeanors will apologize afterward, and no doubt pay a fine. But that does nothing to protect your data.

Taking your privacy for their profit

Internet providers are privy to a lot of your data, and they would like to use it to sell targeted advertising or even share it with third-party marketers.

It’s not surprising, then, that telecoms and ISP companies lobbied senators to vote for S.J.Res 34.

Absurdly, those in support of S.J.Res 34 claimed website and app data are not sensitive information.

Your internet data is sensitive and should remain private

Your website data can be used to fingerprint you and build an accurate picture of your personal life. App data is more sensitive and can reveal your precise location and, possibly, your health status.

Imagine being refused insurance because your fitness app says you don’t exercise enough. It could easily happen if the app makers are allowed to sell their data to insurance companies.

To jeopardize the privacy of so many for the profits of so few is incredibly irresponsible.

The 50 senators who sold your privacy

These are the senators who took away your online privacy to line the pockets of others:

Senator Roberts (R-KS)
Senator Lee (R-UT)
Senator Boozman (R-AR)
Senator Blunt (R-MO)
Senator Crapo (R-ID)
Senator Scott (R-SC)
Senator Cotton (R-AR)
Senator Hatch (R-UT)
Senator Capito (R-WV)
Senator Alexander (R-TN)
Senator Toomey (R-PA)
Senator Perdue (R-GA)
Senator Cochran (R-MS)
Senator Inhofe (R-OK)
Senator Ernst (R-IA)
Senator Lankford (R-OK)
Senator Collins (R-ME)
Senator Sullivan (R-AK)
Senator Thune (R-SD)
Senator McCain (R-AZ)
Senator Graham (R-SC)
Senator Wicker (R-MS)
Senator Grassley (R-IA)
Senator Burr (R-NC)
Senator Hoeven (R-ND)
Senator Tillis (R-NC)
Senator McConnell (R-KY)
Senator Heller (R-NV)
Senator Cruz (R-TX)
Senator Daines (R-MT)
Senator Portman (R-OH)
Senator Murkowski (R-AK)
Senator Cassidy (R-LA)
Senator Flake (R-AZ)
Senator Johnson (R-WI)
Senator Rubio (R-FL)
Senator Corker (R-TN)
Senator Risch (R-ID)
Senator Gardner (R-CO)
Senator Young (R-IN)
Senator Barrasso (R-WY)
Senator Moran (R-KS)
Senator Cornyn (R-TX)
Senator Enzi (R-WY)
Senator Kennedy (R-LA)
Senator Shelby (R-AL)
Senator Rounds (R-SD)

Johnny 5 is the founding editor of the blog and writes about pressing technology issues. From important cat privacy stories to governments and corporations that overstep their boundaries, Johnny covers it all.