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Comcast and other internet providers may soon be able to sell your web history

The FCC's new broadband privacy rules could be undone via the Congressional Review Act.


John-Michael Bond


Posted on Feb 16, 2017   Updated on May 24, 2021, 11:54 pm CDT

In October 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed new rules prohibiting your internet service provider (ISP) from selling off your personal information, including your web history, without explicit permission. Now those rules could be in danger.

The broadband privacy rules prevented ISPs, like Comcast and Verizon, from selling your geolocation data, financial and health information, and the content of your messages if they weren’t sent without encryption. The rules went into effect at the start of 2017.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) told a Politico reporter this week that he will be introducing a resolution using the Congressional Review Act to roll back the changes. The Congressional Review Act (CRA) allows Congress to negate agency rules with a simple majority vote. It also prevents the agency from issuing the same regulation in the future. 

Politico reports there are roughly 12 co-sponsors lined up for the resolution.

The FCC may act before Congress actually has a chance to vote. New chairman Ajit Pai objected to the rules being adopted in the first place, arguing that ISPs are held to a higher standard than companies like Google and Facebook. He referred to them in his dissent as “edge providers.”

“Due to the FCC’s action today, those who have more insight into consumer behavior (edge providers) will be subject to more lenient regulation than those who have less insight (ISPs),” Pai said. “This doesn’t make sense… Nothing in these rules will stop edge providers from harvesting and monetizing your data, whether it’s the websites you visit or the YouTube videos you watch or the e-mails you send or the search terms you enter on any of your devices.”

It remains to be seen what will happen, but given the current administration’s stance on regulations, don’t be surprised to find your ISP selling your information again shortly. 

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*First Published: Feb 16, 2017, 9:01 am CST