Thursday, March 23, 2017

Senate Votes to Kill Obama Privacy Regs

The Senate passed a resolution Thursday in a 50-48 Party line vote that would Dismantle a set of Internet Privacy Rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last year.

The Rules, which the FCC passed in a Party-line vote in October, require Internet Service Poviders (ISP) such as AT&T and Verizon to obtain Customers' Permission before using their personal information for Advertising purposes.

If passed by the House and signed by President Trump, the Bill would use an obscure Law called the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to eliminate the rules before they go into effect. The CRA would also prevent the FCC from passing "substantially similar" regulations in the future, though no Court has ruled on what Agencies can pass under those standards.

Critics of the Privacy Regulations say they are too onerous, and subject Service Providers to stricter Regulations than websites such as Facebook and Google, which also collect consumer data.

The vote immediately drew criticism from Privacy and Consumer Advocates like the ACLU, Public Knowledge and Free Press, while Trade Groups praised the move.

In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday night, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who introduced the Bill, said the FCC Regulations were an example of a "bureaucratic power grab." "Passing this CRA will send a powerful message that federal agencies can't unilaterally restrict constitutional rights and expect to get away with it," Flake said.

But Democratic Sens. Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Ed Markey (Mass.), and Ron Wyden (Ore.) railed against the measure on the Senate floor ahead of the vote, saying it would leave Consumers vulnerable. "Passing [the resolution] will take consumers out of this driver's seat and place the collection and use of their information behind a veil of secrecy, despite rhetoric surrounding our debate today suggesting that eliminating these common-sense rules will better protect consumers' privacy online or will eliminate consumer confusion," said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the Ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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