Paul Ohm writes: Many are outraged about congressional efforts to eviscerate Internet privacy regulations set by the Federal Communications Commission under President Barack Obama. But a frightening aspect to the bill remains underappreciated: If signed, it could result in the greatest legislative expansion of the FBI’s surveillance power since 2001’s Patriot Act.
Don’t believe anyone who suggests that the law merely returns us to the state of the world before the FCC finalized its landmark privacy rules in October. The obvious reason Internet service providers burned through time, money, political capital and customer goodwill to push for this law was to ask for a green light to engage in significantly more user surveillance than they had ever before had the audacity to try.
This must be the reason, because on paper, the law accomplishes little. President Trump’s handpicked choice to head the FCC, Ajit Pai, already began work to roll back these rules in a more orderly fashion. Make no mistake: ISPs aren’t just asking for relief from a supposedly onerous rule; they want Congress’s blessing. Once Trump signs the bill, diminishing the FCC’s power to police privacy online, ISPs will feel empowered — perhaps even encouraged — by Republicans (no Democrats voted for this measure) to spy on all of us as they never have before. And spy they will. [Continue reading…]