On March 28, 2017, Congress passed legislation allowing internet services providers to collect and sell internet browsing history of their customers. Companies such as Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast will legally be allowed to take data from customers in order to have their advertisements more catered toward user’s interests. This is a major shift in how Internet user’s privacy will be regulated and protected for years to come. The Obama administration went to great lengths to restrict ISPs (Internet Service Providers) from collecting personal data from their consumers.
The Federal Communications Commission created restrictions during the Obama era to halt the providers from utilizing user’s activity online. The Net Neutrality law played a huge part in these companies blocking, controlling, and collecting information from Internet users. Online users had to be prompted prior to their data being collected. Another issue arising with companies collecting internet data is that they now have to protect it from hackers.
President Trump passed this legislation of overturning Internet protection by signing it into law on April 3rd, 2017. The White House stated, “The rule departs from the technology-neutral framework for online privacy administered by the Federal Trade.” The Trump administration feels as though these regulations were overbearing and unnecessary.
These major internet providers made sure give consumers a piece of mind by letting them know they had no grounds to worry. Comcast released a statement saying, “If a customer does not want us to use other, non-sensitive data to send them targeted ads, we offer them the ability to opt out of receiving such targeted ads.”
The FCC has already begun to create a plan regarding these changes. They have begun to map out the steps in which to reverse the Net Neutrality law. The proposal does, however, require the billion dollar companies to promise to upkeep the principles that the previous law required of them. These principles are mostly defined by not blocking users to specific websites or giving specific sites priority over other non-organically.
Ajit Pai, FCC Chairman, feels as though the repercussions of the restrictions ISPs has thus made their previous decision a “mistake.” He also commented about there will be a noticeable shift in leadership style within the FCC. Pai also brought up another change in how the FCC will be supervising zero-rating plans offered to consumers by ISPs. Many will find this to be a complicated situation in terms how companies will regulate data collection and how the companies, themselves, will be monitored. These changes will begin a shift of user-mindset on clear judgment online rather than relying on the protection of ISPs. Since society has become so dependent on the internet, the future of data collection and the legality behind it will be a back and forth battle.