Local Internet Company Won't Sell Consumer Data, Despite Bill Easing Regulations

Posted at 6:24 PM, Mar 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-30 19:24:23-04

Congress has sent President Donald Trump legislation that would kill an online privacy regulation. That move could eventually allow internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to sell the browsing habits of their customers. 

The House voted to block online privacy regulations issued during the final months of the Obama administration.

It's the first step toward allowing internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to sell the browsing habits of their customers.           

The Federal Communications Commission rule was designed to give consumers greater control over how internet service providers share information. But critics say the rule adds costs, stifles innovation and picks winners and losers among internet companies.           

The House voted 215-205 to reject the rule. The legislation now goes to President Donald Trump for his signature.           

Internet companies like Google don't have to ask users' permission before tracking what sites they visit. Republicans and industry groups have blasted that discrepancy, saying it was unfair and confusing for consumers. 

Omaha cyber and technology innovation guru Dave Vankat says concerned consumers should shop around and find out which providers have policies that match their values. 

"The reality is all the information of what they're doing online is already being collected," Vankat said. "The internet service providers, also know they're in competition with others. So they know if they go against a lot of the consumer market there are other options for those consumers." 

Pam Adams works for American Broadband, a smaller internet company based in Blair. She says the company doesn't sell consumer information now and it won't in the future. 

"Our priority is our relationship with the customer,” Adams said. "While the bigger players that are out there might be heralding this as a win for them, our view is this is similar to your financial data, or your healthcare data. That’s information that you as a consumer should be in control of." 

In the meantime, Vankat says consumers concerned about the bill should to be aware of what internet companies can already access now. 


"It’s a little big brother-ish but that’s the reality," he said.