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New FCC Regulations Protect Online Privacy

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- When it comes to your personal information online, keeping it private is extremely important. That's the reason many people are excited about recent a landmark ruling by the Federal Communications Commission, that will limit how internet providers use or even sell online data.

The way billions of people around the world stay connected is part of most of our everyday lives. The internet, with all its resources, is a useful tool, but in the wrong hands, it can be inconvenient and dangerous for users.

The Federal Communication Commission or FCC, ruling in favor of new online privacy laws last week.

"What we don't want to see is the internet network itself violating your privacy. The actual company that's providing the wires into your home, that's what these rules prevent. It's a very, very important thing because the amount of privacy, harm, and the amount of intrusion that they can do, because they see everything that crosses your internet wires, is much much greater," said Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst & editor, Free Future blog with the American Civil Liberties Union Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.

In a way to protect you while online, the FCC has ruled that consumers may forbid internet providers from sharing sensitive personal information -- like browsing history, mobile location data,  and other internet usage.

"They can actually see what you're looking at on your phones or computers. Search phrases that your looking through your internet browsing history. They can even use Geo-trackers within your cell phone to say where you are while you're traveling," said cyber expert Steve Taromino.

Taromino says this new FCC ruling eliminates that, giving the consumer the ability to opt in or out of having personal information shared. However, this does not include many of the well-known high-volume usage sites where ads are used for revenue.

"For hundreds of years people have demanded privacy on the most important communications networks of those times, and today it's the internet," said Stanley.

And there are a lot of entities that will not fall under new regulations. The final vote of the five-person commission was 3-2.

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