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NET PRIVACY SUFFERS BIG BLOW

Internet privacy took a big hit Tuesday when the Senate voted 50-48 to torch a rule enacted under President Obama last year that required providers to secure user consent before information such as browsing history and location data could be shared–and sold.

The rules were designed to protect consumers’ online data from their Internet providers. The new ruling would essentially give Internet service providers (ISP) carte blanche to sell and share user information to advertisers as they see fit. The resolution also bars the FCC from enacting similar protections. The bill now heads to the House.

"It is extremely disappointing that the Senate voted today to sacrifice the privacy rights of Americans in the interest of protecting the profits of major internet companies, including Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon," said Neema Singh Giuliani, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

With the ability to exploit user preferences, providers can create new revenue streams beyond providing web access, including online advertising. It’s also a big blow for web pricacy.

"At a time when our personal data is more vulnerable than ever, it’s baffling that Senate Republicans would eliminate the few privacy protections Americans have today," said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.).

As the ruling moves to the House, it’s expected that this is just the first step toward further deregulation of the Internet. New FCC Chief Ajit Pai has already come out in support of pulling the plug on net neutrality, a federal law that forces providers to treat all Internet traffic equally. The loss of net neutrality could be costly for music streaming services, which might be forced to cut deals with individual ISPs in order to compete in the marketplace. 

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