WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted narrowly to repeal regulations requiring isps to do more to safeguard customers' privacy than websites like Alphabet Inc's Google (O:GOOGL) or Facebook Inc (O:FB).
The vote was along party lines, with 50 Republicans approving the measure and 48 Democrats rejecting it. Both the remaining Republicans during the Senate were absent and wouldn’t cast a vote.
According into the rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission in October under then-President Barack Obama, internet providers would need to obtain consumer consent before using precise geolocation, financial information, health information, children's information and web surfing history for promoting and internal marketing.
The vote would be a victory for internet providers for instance AT&T Inc (N:T), Comcast Corp (O:CMCSA) and Verizon Communications Inc (N:VZ), which have strongly opposed the principles.
The bill next would flow to the U.S. House of Representatives, but it was not clear whenever they would persue the measure.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate was overturning a regulation that "makes the whole internet an uneven digital camera playing field, increases complexity, discourages competition, innovation, and infrastructure investment."
But Democratic Senator Ed Markey said, "Republicans have just made it easier for American’s sensitive specifics of their own bodies, finances and families to be utilized, shared, and sold towards highest bidder without their permission."
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said consumers could have privacy protections without Obama administration internet provider rules.
In a joint statement, Democratic people the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission said the Senate vote "generates a massive gap in consumer protection law as broadband and cable companies now have no discernible privacy requirements."
Republican commissioners, including Pai, said in October that the rules would unfairly give websites like Facebook, Twitter Inc (N:TWTR) or Google the cabability to harvest more data than internet service providers therefore dominate digital advertising. The FCC latest research by delayed the results rules from taking effect.
The Internet and tv Association, a trade group, inside a statement praised the vote being a "critical step towards re-establishing a stable framework which is grounded within the long-standing and successful FTC privacy framework that applies equally to all parties operating online."
Websites are governed by a less restrictive pair of privacy rules overseen because of the Federal Trade Commission.
Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for advocacy group Consumers Union, said the vote "are a wide part in the incorrect direction, and it completely ignores the needs and concerns of consumers."