President Trump has signed a bill to overturn internet privacy protections previously enlisted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prompting concerns over what the move means for consumers.
The change means that broadband giants like Verizon and AT&T, will be able to track and sell consumer information with more ease, backpedaling restrictions which were due to put in place later this year after having been approved by the Obama administration.
The proposed privacy rules would have required internet providers to obtain an 'opt in' from subscribers before they could share or sell personal information with advertisers and other third parties.
Some analysts believe that the U-turn means ISPs will become self-regulated and as such may not adequately protect consumers without fear of law enforcement.
“This is a repeal with no replacement,” Danny Weitzner, director of the M.I.T. Internet Policy Research Initiative and former Obama-era technology policy official, told the New York Times.
The move will come as a blow to privacy groups like the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation which had supported the FCC in its efforts. However, it is likely to be welcomed by the telecoms industry who have been protesting against the new rules citing discontent that internet companies like Google and Facebook would remain unaffected.
Congress last month approved the resolution to repeal the privacy rules, which also prevents the FCC from adopting similar rules in the future.
“Consumers should feel confident that the steps taken today won’t change anything other than clearing the path for regulators to institute uniform privacy rules that will keep their sensitive information private and secure,” said Jonathan Spalter, the chief exexutive of USTelecom in a statement.