On Tuesday Utah’s congressional delegation voted to repeal an Obama-era regulation preventing internet providers from tracking and sharing citizens’ personal information. That has one Utah privacy advocate worried.
Pete Ashdown is the founder and president of XMission, an internet provider in Salt Lake City. His company is exactly the type that could benefit from a federal proposal to end FCC rules preventing broadband internet providers like Comcast and AT&T from collecting and sharing users’ personal information.
But Ashdown, a privacy advocate, says internet providers are different from websites like Facebook.
"Much more private things happen like health and financial transactions, and handing that over to an advertiser or anyone who’s willing to pay money, I think is a gross violation of an individual’s privacy," Ashdown says.
He says with companies like Facebook and Google, you can log out or choose not to use their sites. But internet providers are like the highway that gives you access to those sites in the first place.
"You don’t realize what they’re monitoring, what they’re tracking, what equipment they’re using to intercept your data and pass it on," he says.
All of Utah’s congressional delegation voted to repeal the FCC privacy rule. Senator Mike Lee said there is “no reason to differentiate between one group of actors in a particular industry and another” and that this an "even-handed" approach.
Ashdown says this choice favors corporations over individuals.
"I think the rest of the Republican delegation, Republican Congress for that matter, has fallen in line with the ideas that all regulation is bad, even if it may protect or benefit the consumer," Ashdown says.