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Senate Republicans voted today to kill federal privacy rules

The vote paves the way for a big win for the country’s telecom giants.

Senate Judiciary Committee Hears Testimony From FCC Leaders On Proposed FCC Privacy Rules
Sen. Jeff Flake (r) shakes hands with FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler 
Alex Wong / Getty

Republicans in Congress took the first step Thursday toward rolling back federal privacy rules imposed last year on internet providers like AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Verizon.

In a major win for the telecom industry, the Senate voted — largely along party lines — to scrap the protections put in place by the Obama administration’s Federal Communications Commission, which had required internet providers to obtain customers’ permission before sharing their personal data with third parties, like advertisers.

Officially, the rules remain on the books: The House still has to vote on its version of the measure, called a resolution of disapproval.

But Republicans are expected to prevail when they bring their proposal to the chamber’s floor — an inevitability that left consumer-protection groups, along with their Democratic allies in Congress, seething on Thursday.

“With today’s vote, Senate Republicans have just made it easier for American’s sensitive information about their health, finances and families to be used, shared, and sold to the highest bidder without their permission,” said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., in a statement. “The American public wants us to strengthen privacy protections, not weaken them. We should not have to forgo our fundamental right to privacy just because our homes and phones are connected to the internet.”

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