A new law signed by President Donald Trump this week repeals Federal Communications Commission restrictions that block internet providers from selling users’ internet browsing history to advertisers.
That will allow internet service providers, or ISPs, such as AT&T (T), Verizon Communications (VZ) and Comcast (CMCSA) to compete with dominant players Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL) and Facebook (FB) in the lucrative online advertising space.
Internet providers are now free to continue to legally collect, store, share and sell data such as a person’s browsing history, app usage and GPS logs without asking customers for consent.
Internet providers have been quick to assure customers that they will not be violating their privacy.
“We do not sell our broadband customers’ individual web browsing history,” Comcast said in a statement. “We did not do it before the FCC’s rules were adopted, and we have no plans to do so.”
“Verizon does not sell the personal web browsing history of our customers,” Verizon said.
Supporters of the repeal argued that restrictions on service providers give website operators like Facebook and Google an unfair advantage when it comes to advertising data. The proposed restrictions on ISPs were approved by the FCC in the final days of President Barack Obama’s presidency and were scheduled to go into effect this year.
“The only thing the internet consistently generates aside from its trolls is data,” technology attorney Fred Lane says. “Big data is sort of the next big oil, and Congress essentially opened up the oil fields to ISPs.”
Back in November, Verizon announced plans to go head-to-head with Google and Facebook in the advertising business by creating a valuable cocktail of data for advertisers. This cocktail consisted…
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