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Senators voted to allow your internet provider to sell your web history to advertisers

What's more, the bill passed on Thursday also prevents the FCC from ever passing strict privacy rules again.
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The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted to peel back rules that require internet providers get your permission before they can share sensitive information about your internet use to advertisers.

This past October, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed a rule that prohibits internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from sharing your details without consent.

But as The Hill reports, senators voted 50-48 along party lines (Republicans for, Democrats against) to eliminate this rule before it goes into effect.

The Congressman who introduced the bill, Sen. Jeff Flake (R–Ariz.) called the regulations an example of a "bureaucratic power grab."

What's more, the bill passed on Thursday also prevents the FCC from ever passing strict privacy rules again, even if there's a change in heart from Congress, The Verge notes.

The bill needs to be passed by the House and signed off by President Trump before it can go into effect, but it's already drawing condemnation from consumer rights and civil liberties groups including the ACLU, which had this to say.

The Washington Post reports the move could make it easier for broadband providers to use and sell online usage information from customers' cellphones and computers for targeted advertising.

Under the current rules, consumers can forbid their providers from sharing what is considered "sensitive information," such as their app usage history and mobile location data.

The arguments for and against

The main argument from Republicans in Congress and at the FCC is that the rules are unfair, in that it puts major cable and telecoms companies on an unequal footing with other major data-collecting companies like Google or Facebook, NPR notes.

These companies are overseen not by the FCC, but by the Federal Trade Commission, whose privacy restrictions are less stringent than the FCC's.

ISP and cable companies like Comcast and AT&T are looking to grab a slice of the lucrative online content and advertising market that has seen the influence and earnings of firms like Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google skyrocket in the past decade.

This comes as more and more "cord-cutters" are turning away from cable subscriptions in favor of online streaming services, as reported by Business Insider.

Democrats fear Thursday's ruling is a step towards the GOP's and broadband providers' supposed ultimate aim of scrapping "net neutrality" regulations, which prohibits broadband providers from favoring their own content over those of competitors, the LA Times reports.

It also prevents them from charging fees for faster delivery that could squeeze out smaller companies.

Opponents say consumers should be given the choice of whether their personal browsing histories can be put up for sale.

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