As Congress — and the nation — focused on health care insurance, the Senate Republican majority, on a party-line vote, took action to dismantle internet privacy protections put in place by the Federal Communications Commission last fall. 

And the GOP-controlled House is expected to follow the Senate’s lead this week. 

If the effort in Congress is approved, it’s reported that Verizon, Comcast, AT&T and other internet providers can track and share people’s browsing and app activity without permission.

Consumer advocates and Democratic lawmakers voiced concern because broadband providers have the widest view into the online habits of Americans. Without the rules, they said, such companies would have more power to collect data on people and sell sensitive information, according to The Times. 

Republicans, as well as the new FCC chairman, contend the privacy rules were onerous and unfairly strapped regulations on telecom carriers but not on web companies such as Facebook and Google that also provide access to online content.

“It is unnecessary, confusing and adds another innovation-stifling regulation,” said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who introduced the resolution to overturn the rules using a procedure that allows to overrule agency regulations.

Perhaps the FCC didn’t get it perfect last year. Maybe there is a fairness issue in that some providers are free to share data while others are not. 

But doing away with all privacy protections doesn’t seem to be a solution. 

Privacy concerns involving the internet are real. Privacy should be protected, and the federal government should provide it. 

Congress should be working to fix the rules aimed at protecting our privacy, not looking for ways to make access to personal information easier. 

 

Editorials are the opinion of the Union-Bulletin's Editorial Board. The board is composed of Brian Hunt, Rick Eskil, James Blethen and Alasdair Stewart