Senate Might Let Internet Companies Sell User Data to 'Highest Bidder'
The Senate is set to vote this week whether to let broadband companies sell user information to the highest bidder—overturning rules implemented by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and possibly banning the agency from passing similar restrictions in the future.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R–Ariz.) introduced a resolution earlier this month that would overturn the FCC’s rules, passed in October, that block providers such as Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon from selling personal information like web-browsing and app usage history to third-party vendors without users’ consent.
Flake introduced the measure under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which gives lawmakers the power to overturn recently-passed agency rules by a simple majority.
Once a rule is repealed through this process, the CRA blocks the agency from passing similar measures unless it is specifically authorized by a new law.
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“With this move, Congress is essentially allowing companies like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon to sell consumers’ private information to the highest bidder,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) legislative counsel Neema Singh Guliani said at the time. “Members of Congress should not bow down to industry pressure. Consumers have a right to control how these companies use their sensitive data.”
The ACLU and other rights groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Free Press, as well as a slew of progressive lawmakers, launched a campaign urging senators to reject Flake’s legislation.
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