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House votes to overturn FCC internet privacy rule

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --

The United States House of Representatives voted 215 to 205 Tuesday to overturn a rule from the Federal Communications Commission that requires internet service providers to ask customers' permission before selling their customers information to advertisers.

The FCC passed the rule in October of 2016, requiring ISPs to ask customers' permission to collect, use and sell personal information. Most of the provisions do not go into effect until later this year.

The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to dismiss regulations recently enacted by the previous administration with simple majority votes. The Senate voted 50-48 Thursday to overturn the rules, now the House must vote and, if its members pass the resolution, forward it onto President Trump.

VIDEO: >> Maine politicians have diverse reactions to information releases

Senator Susan Collins (R - Maine) already voted to eliminate the rule.

In a statement, her press secretary wrote that Senator Collins believes the FCC rule created an inconsistent, confusing standard for regulating privacy on the internet. She said the rule put extensive restrictions on internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast, while leaving much less strict standards in place for edge providers like Google and Facebook.

"Under this rule, different providers are subject to different standards created by different government agencies. This inconsistency created confusion for consumers, competitive disadvantages for internet service providers, and limited broadband innovation without ensuring privacy for internet users.

Therefore, Senator Collins voted to eliminate this misguided rule and looks forward to Internet privacy rules that apply consistently to all providers."

Collins' press secretary also said that former President Obama's former FTC commissioner Jon Leibowitz said he would support removing the regulation on ISPs to ask permission.

Rep. Bruce Poliquin also released a statement on the ruling:

“Certainly, I absolutely want to ensure there are proper safeguards in place to keep Mainers’ private data secure when they use the Internet, which is why I voted to remove this FCC rule,” said Congressman Poliquin.

“The reality is this FCC rule creates a misleading sense of security for users. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the regulatory body that has for years worked in this field to protect consumers’ data. The FCC can only monitor a segment of the Internet, leaving out huge swaths of the web they would not be able to administer. Creating rules enforced by the FCC would apply regulations to only a specific segment of the industry, while giving an unequal advantage and preference to a handful of companies who wouldn’t be under their jurisdiction. This is not the right way to regulate, as it would also undermine the very goal of protecting users’ data.

“The Internet should remain a level playing field where consumers are protected consistently across the web, while preventing gaps in consumer protection from being created by any new privacy rules.”

Rep. Chellie Pingree released a statement through a video on her Facebook page, which has been included below:

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The owner of Necessary Technology in Portland, Jarrod Maxfield, said certain sites like Google and Facebook already collect and sell users online habits when people agree to their terms of service for those specific sites, but an ISP can see even more information.

"Your data is still going to be sold. It's just you'd have an opportunity to know it's being sold and have an opportunity to opt-out of it," said Maxfield. "It doesn't matter what you search for or what website you go to or what you watch. It all flows through their tunnel and this rule would have at least made it so that they have to tell you they're doing that and get your consent to do it."

Maxfield said the goal of ISPs selling the internet habits to marketing companies is to tailor the online experience and provide ads that are relevant to the users.

"If you really think about the things we search for -- it's personal and it's about you and it's not information we readily share but all of a sudden, it can be and is being compiled and sold," said Maxfield.

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