internet-service-providers-privacy

The United States House of Representatives on Tuesday approved the Congressional Review Act, undoing privacy restrictions imposed on Internet service providers during the Obama administration.

The Senate passed the CRA last week in a 50-48 vote along party lines.

The White House has expressed support for the CRA.

“This is one time I believe the White House,” remarked John Simpson, privacy project director at Consumer Watchdog.

Privacy advocates have fought against the CRA, warning of its dire consequences, but ISPs and businesses support it.

Why Privacy Advocates Fear the CRA

“ISPs have unique insight into your online activities,” Simpson told the E-Commerce Times. They now can “steal your data, sell it, and never explain what they’re doing with it or who buys it.”

The CRA “destroys reasonable, carefully crafted privacy protections and opens up the possibility of … abuse,” Simpson said.

There are also concerns that the lifting of restrictions would make it easier for law enforcement and national security agencies to conduct surveillance on Americans, perhaps without a warrant, as various police agencies and the FBI have done on occasion.

The Business Side of the Issue

Supporters of the CRA argue that it puts ISPs on a level playing field with Google, which was exempted from the FCC restrictions even though it collects a considerable amount of customer data.

“If an opt-in requirement is not necessary for Google and other edge providers that collect Web browsing information, then it’s not necessary for ISPs either,…