“Congressman Goodlatte is a strong supporter of individual privacy on the Internet,” his website proclaims.
As is often the case with Goodlatte, his pious declarations are belied by hard reality.
So it should come as no surprise that Goodlatte voted with the Republican majority on a resolution in Congress allowing internet service providers to sell and share personal information.
The Consumerist website reports:
The new Federal Communications Commission’s rules intended to limit how companies like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and Charter can use internet customers’ sensitive personal information are effectively dead in the water, thanks to a House of Representatives vote [Tuesday] to kill the regulations, making sure internet service providers can use and sell user data.
The final vote was 215 to repeal the privacy rules with 205 votes to keep them in place. Voting was mostly along party lines, though 15 Republicans broke rank to vote against the resolution. No Democrats voted in its favor.
The Senate has already approved this resolution, meaning it only awaits the signature of President Trump to undo the FCC regulations.
The rules, finalized in October by the FCC, effectively divide the data that your ISP has about you and your browsing habits into two categories.
The first category is sensitive data. ISPs would have been prevented from using the following information without your permission:
• Geographic location
• Children’s information
• Health information
• Financial information
• Social Security numbers
• Web browsing history
• App usage history
• The content of communications
The second category includes less-sensitive, but still personal data. ISPs would have been allowed to use this information, but would have been required to allow users the opportunity to opt out of having the following shared:
• Your name
• Your address
• Your IP address
• Your current subscription level
• Anything else not in the “opt in” bucket.
The rules were immediately opposed by ISPs and their lobbyists, who said the regulations were unfair because they did not place the same restriction on content companies Google and Netflix — while glossing over the fact that the FCC has no authority to regulate what Google and Netflix do with their user information.
I don’t know if there is a connection between Goodlatte’s vote for the anti-privacy resolution and the campaign contributions he receives from ISPs like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, which lobbied hard for the legislation. But Goodlatte’s long record of siding with his corporate donors against the interests of consumers and workers remains intact.