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Tweet at Trump to veto online privacy rollback, Democrat says

Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., spoke to KATU from Capitol Hill on March 29, 2017. (SBG)

An Oregon Democrat is urging voters opposed to a Republican-backed bill that rolls back internet privacy regulations to express their displeasure to President Donald Trump through his favored form of communication.

“This guy’s sensitive to tweets,” Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., said Wednesday. “Tweet the heck out of this bill, you guys. Let’s not have this become law.”

Schrader blasted congressional Republicans for supporting the legislation, which blocks an Obama-era Federal Communications Commission regulation intended to prevent internet service providers from selling customers’ personal information and browsing histories without their approval.

“Do you want someone to have access to your personal information without your permission?” he asked. “I think it’s as simple as that.”

The regulation was opposed by telecommunications companies that claimed it would stifle innovation and treat some businesses differently from others. Schrader argued it was just common sense to protect consumer privacy.

“Internet or no internet. I could see all these arguments being ginned up by the businesses that frankly benefit from it. I get their point of view, but it’s wrong. It’s just absolutely wrong on so many levels,” he said.

Republicans strongly disputed the Democrats’ characterization of the bill as anti-privacy.

“There is nothing about your privacy that is made more vulnerable as a result of this,” insisted Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who called the original rule “ill-considered.”

“There’s no reason to differentiate between one group of actors in a particular industry and another,” he said.

With this rule overturned, broadband privacy would be governed by the Federal Trade Commission instead of the FCC. Privacy and consumer advocates worry that the FTC’s oversight is historically weaker than the FCC.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., observed that the FCC regulation was only put in place late last year.

“This doesn’t represent a massive shift in internet policy,” he said. “It merely returns us to where we were five months ago.”

Gaetz portrayed the bill as an effort to “get the government off the internet” and give consumers more choices.

“If someone wants to have their search history or their information sold in exchange for cheaper internet access, that’s the right of the citizen,” he said.

The law has cleared the House and Senate despite objections by Democrats and some Republicans. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday that President Trump does intend to sign it.

Pressed by Yahoo News to explain why President Trump supports a bill that privacy advocates vehemently opposed, Spicer pointed to a statement of policy issued by the administration Tuesday.

“The rule departs from the technology-neutral framework for online privacy administered by the Federal Trade Commission,” it says. “This results in rules that apply very different regulatory regimes based on the identity of the online actor.”

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