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SJ 34 Legislation Officially Nullified Privacy Rules this Week

Posted on April 5, 2017

As of April 3rd, 2017, President Trump signed into law a number of resolutions, among them was S.J. 34—the legislation nullifying privacy rules for customers of broadband services.

This was largely no surprise, given the stance that both the current administration and the newly appointed head of the FCC have adopted. The reversal of the rules traveled quick enough through the House and Senate that constituents had little chance to mitigate the overturn. We’ve covered this issue since it became public news, but in the event you’re not up to date, the now non-existent rules would have required ISPs to obtain clear consent before using data for advertising and other monetary purposes.

The Tom Wheeler-led FCC saw this new privacy framework necessary for present day internet usage, while ISPs argue it is unfair and misguided. ISPs don’t like the fact that online services such as search engines and social media have more access to user data than they do; however, as Lucian Armusa of Tom’s Hardware points out, it isn’t exactly new for paid service providers to be more regulated than free services. Additionally, he brings up a few excellent points while dismantling the “it’s not fair” argument. In summation, ISPs enjoy a subscription based business model and local monopolies in contrast to other “edge” services that are free to use (or not use, if you don’t agree with their privacy policy) and usually have more competition, giving users more choice.

Allowing ISPs to profit off consumers multiple times is likely not something most would be amenable to, not to mention its intrusiveness. However, this is unlikely to change without a new Congress and Senate, and even FCC leadership. As such, we will be publishing a guide on privacy tips soon, and there will no doubt be others available as well.

Stay tuned.

- Eric Hamilton