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US lawmakers have voted to let ISPs sell your browsing history to advertisers (Updated)

The US House of Representatives follows US Senate in voting to eliminate current internet privacy rules.

Published onMarch 29, 2017

Update: Following last week's Senate vote, the US House of Representatives has now also voted in favor of eliminating the current ISP rules protecting customer privacy, bringing it one step closer to fruition. The White House issued a statement yesterday following the House of Representatives' decision, in which it said that it too "strongly supports" the passage of the bill and that, if it was presented to the President, his advisors would also recommend that it is passed into law.

President Trump's approval is the last step in eliminating the FCC's rule, titled "Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunication Services." If it's removed, this will allow ISPs to sell and share an individual's browsing history, app usage history, and other private information —  which may include email, health and financial data — without customer consent.

For anybody wondering if they'll be protected by Chrome's Incognito Mode in that eventuality, the answer is a definitive no. We'll keep you updated on this story as it develops — read our original coverage below.

Original story, March 24: Last October, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved Internet privacy rules that would ban internet service providers (ISPs) from sharing or selling your web browsing data to advertisers without your consent. Unfortunately, the US Senate has recently voted to eliminate these privacy rules, which means that your browsing data might soon make its way to companies willing to pay for it.

The decision isn’t official yet, as the House needs to approve it first. And even if it does, President Trump has the power to keep the rules in place by issuing a veto.

Senator Richard BLUmenthal is just one of many who aren’t very happy about the new rules. He said that they are a direct attack on consumers’ rights as well as on privacy. Senator Ed Markey took things to another level by saying that ISP now stands for “information sold for profit” and “invading subscriber privacy”. He also added that every American should be alarmed by the violation of privacy that these changes will bring.

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The vast majority of internet users probably aren’t very happy about the new rules. The thought of someone selling your web browsing data to companies in the advertising industry surely scares a lot of people. For now, all we can do is hope that the Senate’s decision doesn’t get the green light, which means that the current rules that offer web users a lot more protection will stay in place. Fingers crossed.

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