In a world where corporate regulations are being targeted across most industries by the newly installed Republican Congress and the incoming new administration in the White House, the rumble may become a roar for Internet privacy regulations.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that a group of large Internet providers have been petitioning the government to repeal the “landmark set” of privacy rules that were codified only last fall, which means that some of the most important parts of Web policy fashioned during the Obama presidency might be on the block.
The official lobbying by Comcast, Cox and Charter, among others, began on Monday with a letter to the Internet & Television Association that stated that the rules are in fact “unnecessary, unjustified” and “unmoored from a cost=benefit assessment” and will not translate into better consumer privacy. The rules themselves, put in place by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), keep Internet firms under confines in how they use consumer-specific data.
That data includes browser history and email content, among other bits of information. The lure to marketing firms, of course, is targeted campaigns that would yield, theoretically at least, relatively higher returns on investment. The firms collecting that data could be swayed by the lure of selling that data.
The new Congress and the Trump administration may upend those rules with newly established control of the FCC (even while some senior Democrats have been stepping down), and as the Post reported, consumer groups such as Free Press are marshalling forces against a rollback. But while Internet providers are regulated, Web companies by and large are not — a point of contention among telecom and cable firms.