Earlier this week, the US senate voted to retract a ruling that was first put in place during former president Barack Obama's administration. The same required that internet service providers put safety measures in place that would protect their customers' privacy. It was retracted from a thin majority, in which 50 Republicans approved the retraction and 48 Democrats voted against.
According to Reuters, the ruling that was approved by the Federal Communications Commission in October required internet providers to gain consent before using customer information. This covered various details from location, health and financial information and browsing history. At that point, AT&T, Comcast Corp., and Verizon Communications were highly opposed, so the recent turn is likely a positive note for these telecom companies.
Democratic Senator Ed Markey pointed out that the motion to repeal the privacy ruling makes it easier for sensitive information to be used, shared and sold without American consent. He was backed up by several consumer and privacy groups, who condemned the resolution just as strongly. These groups expressed their disappointment in the US senate, as they believe the recent vote sacrificed the privacy rights of Americans in favor of profit for major Internet companies.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the overturn was against an uneven regulation. He argued that it had discouraged "competition, innovation and infrastructure investment." The Internet and Television Association, a trade group that represents major cable providers, also approved the reversal. "We support this step toward reversing the FCC's misguided approach," The Washington Post quoted a statement. "[We] look forward to restoring a consistent approach to online privacy protection."
The FCC has not released an official statement on the issue at hand. The bill has already been passed on to the US House of Representatives. However, it remains unclear whether they will approve or reject the motion.