It will be once again easier for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to sell your personal data for marketing or advertisement purposes without taking your permission.
Last October, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed a set of privacy rules on ISPs that restrict them from sharing your online data with third parties without your consent and require them to adopt "reasonable measures" to protect consumers' data from hackers.
However, now the FCC suspended privacy rules before they came into effect.
The reason? President Donald Trump's newly appointed FCC chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican and ex-Verizon lawyer.
Ajit Pai, who has openly expressed his views against net neutrality in the past, just last week said during a speech at Mobile World Congress that Net Neutrality was "a mistake" and indicated that the Commission is now moving back to internet regulations.
Now, Pai suspends privacy rules on ISPs, arguing that they favored companies like Google and Facebook, which are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), over internet providers like Comcast and Verizon.
Pai wants the FCC, and the Federal Trade Commission should treat all online entities the same way. So those new privacy policies should be scrapped.
"All actors in the online space should be subject to the same rules, and the federal government shouldn’t favor one set of companies over another," FCC said in a statement.
"Therefore, he has advocated returning to a technology-neutral privacy framework for the online world and harmonizing the FCC’s privacy rules for broadband providers with the FTC’s standards for others in the digital economy."The FCC will now likely pass a new set of standards in the way the FTC regulates websites. It's like, if the FTC requires sites like Facebook and Google to seek explicit permission before selling your data, the FCC may follow suit for ISPs.
In other words, the FCC will keep a hold on new privacy rules. Since FTC would never hurt advertising business model of Google and Facebook, FCC would never restore those suspended rules on ISPs.
How does this Move Affect You?
If you are unaware, your internet service provider knows your most intimate and personal online activities.
Unlike Google which uses encryption to prevent anyone from seeing your online searches, your ISP can see your search queries, what websites you visit, when you visit them, and what apps you use.
The ISPs then share this data with other companies for advertisements, marketing or other purposes. And with this information in hands, it's very easy for any advertising company to know users' interests based on their online behaviors and serve them targeted ads.
Not surprisingly, the broadband industry applauded the FCC's new move, calling it "a welcome recognition that consumers benefit most when privacy protections are consistently applied throughout the Internet ecosystem."But privacy advocates are not at all happy with the FCC's action, arguing that suspending the privacy rules favor the Internet providers like Comcast and Verizon since the ISPs do not need the same data security rules the FTC requires of websites.