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'Personal Peeping Toms:' Schumer Denounces Vote Allowing ISPs To Sell Data Without Consent

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- New York Sen. Charles Schumer has denounced a vote that would allow Internet providers and cell phone companies to sell your browsing habits, app activity and other personal information without your permission.

The Senate voted to kill Obama-era online privacy regulations, a first step toward allowing internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to sell your browsing habits and other personal information as they expand their own online ad businesses.

Those rules, not yet in effect, would have required internet providers to ask your permission before sharing your personal information. That's a much stronger privacy-protection weapon than letting them use your data until you tell them to stop. As anyone who has ever tried to stop getting targeted ads on the internet knows, opting out is hard.

Schumer said this "invasion of privacy" has to be stopped.

"It would allow broadband providers to become unchecked, personal peeping Toms," Schumer said.

Cable companies, cellphone carriers and the advertising industry attacked the FCC rules as an overreach. Having to get permission from customers to use their browsing and app histories would likely make it more difficult to build stronger ad businesses, as telecom companies want to do.

"If the House passes the same bill as the Senate passed, all your private stuff could be available and sold," Schumer said.

Republican lawmakers say the privacy rules placed an unfair regulation on telecommunications companies, but not on Internet companies like Facebook and Google. 

Google already sells your search history, but names is not necessarily attached to the data, and consumers do not pay for the service, as they do with and ISP, 1010 WINS Roger Stern reported. Consumers also willingly volunteer their information on those sites.

Proponents of the privacy measure argued that the company that sells you your internet connection can see even more about you: every website you visit, every app that sends or receives data, everyone you email and many that you message. Telecom companies argue that companies like Google know far more about users than they do.

Republicans want a different federal agency, the Federal Trade Commission, to police privacy for both broadband companies like AT&T and internet companies like Google. But broadband providers don't currently fall under FTC jurisdiction, and advocates say the FTC has historically been a weaker agency than the FCC.

The House is expected to mirror the Senate vote and President Donald Trump said he would sign the bill into law.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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