As most had expected, the House of Representatives today voted 215 to 205 to kill privacy rules protecting US broadband subscribers. If you’re interested in a little thing called public accountability, you can find a breakdown of which Representatives voted for the measure here. The rules, approved by the FCC last fall, were slated to take effect this month.
But thanks to relentless lobbying by the broadband and marketing industries, the GOP quickly rushed to dismantle the rules at ISP request. The effort involved using the Congressional Review Act, which only lets Congress kill recently passed regulations, but prevents the regulator in question from implementing the same regulations down the road.
The rules would have required that ISPs transparently disclose private data collection and sales, while requiring ISPs have consumers opt in to the collection of more private financial or browsing history data.
Today’s vote came after the Senate voted 50-48 last week to kille the rules. The vote to dismantle the rules is seen as one of the more brazen examples of pay-to-play politics in recent memory. It’s a massive win for giant ISPs; especially those like AT&T and Verizon that are pushing hard into the Millennial advertising business.
Alright, this is really bad, but I try to be an optimist. One of my design professors used to say, “The solution to the problem lies within the problem itself.”
So privacy rules are going away. Fine. This means we have to be vigilant and take matters into our own hands.
Although it was a very different situation, this reminds me of a lawsuit that occurred in the pre-iPhone 2006-07 period, banning the use of plugin technologies, like Flash, on the Internet. Eolas had brought forth the lawsuit against Microsoft and their Explorer web browser in relation to one of their patents. It sounded really bad for those of us who designed websites for a living but didn’t understand much about the technologies of the Web.
I bring this story up to only to wonder if out of all the developers and software engineers responsible for helping create the Internet and keep it running, there are at least a few of them who have ideas on countering this privacy legislation.