Smile! You’re on Candid Your Search History Is Now Something Internet Providers Can Legally Collect And Sell!

On Thursday the Republican-held Senate voted to overturn key privacy protections for internet users on a largely party-line 50-48 vote. These protections were implemented by the Obama administration, and sought to prevent data providers from collecting browsing, app, and search histories. Now they can not only collect a record of your activities, but they can sell them, too.

Experts say this is the first step in a massive deregulation of the internet industry, and a big win for internet service providers.

Champions of this move, like newly appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Senator Jeff Falke of Arizona (who wrote this bill) argue that the previous regulations would stifle innovation and commerce, while consumer groups argue this just made your data a whole lot less safe, specifying that, for instance, with your search history available for sale, lots of your life and your medical histories are now open to be gleaned by advertisers. Or, perhaps, by more nefarious actors — the bill also specifies that internet providers no longer must use “reasonable measures” to protect the info they collect on you from hacks.

This is all a big deal because the internet is now fully governed by the Federal Communications Commission, since broadband has been categorized as a utility, like the telephone, rather than a good or service. If it was the latter, the Federal Trade Commission would be involved, and that would allow other groups to safeguard your privacy.

Instead, with the FCC helmed by the very Internet Service Provider-friendly Ajit Pai, the safeguards on your data and privacy are entirely in the hands of the government — and in particular, the FCC.

And the Republicans are promising more of this sort of deregulation, with Pai strongly in their corner, and with their eye on the big prize: NET NEUTRALITY, which would mean big companies could pay to have their data reach you faster.

It’s all happening quick. We’ll keep an eye on it.