President Donald Trump on Monday signed into law a controversial measure repealing online privacy protections established by the Federal Communications Commission under the Obama Administration.
The now-reversed law would have limited what ISPs like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T could do with sensitive customer data like location, browsing history, and other personal information like Social Security numbers. Under the law, which would have been enacted at the end of 2017, ISPs were also required to strengthen protections against hackers and security breaches.
Going forward, Internet Service Providers will not need to get permission from customers to sell customer data like web browsing history, but following customer outcry and confusion over the repeal of the law, many ISPs have said customer data won’t be sold.
Comcast, for example, says it has “no plans” to sell individual web browsing history, while Verizon says it “does not sell the personal web browsing history” of its customers.
Internet providers argued that the rules were confusing to customers and discriminatory and unfair because they didn’t apply to tech companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook.
Privacy advocates like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation opposed the rollback of the law and have argued that privacy protections are desperately needed to keep consumers safe.
For end users, the repeal of the law effectively maintains the status quo because it was not enacted before being shuttered, but it’s worth noting that the resolution contains language preventing the FCC from enabling similar privacy rules in the future.
The repeal is the first step the Trump administration plans to take towards deregulating broadband internet service providers. According to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, President Trump has “pledged to reverse” net neutrality rules passed in 2015.