Americans value online privacy but voters do not care when it counts

The rush by Republicans in Congress to kill still-pending Obama-era rules that would put curbs on the ability of ISPs to collect and sell our personal Internet usage data has been met with howls of protest from privacy advocates and citizens.

And the outrage is no wonder, as the idea of our browsing habits and histories being hawked to the highest bidder is an affront to any understanding of personal privacy rights.

It’s also an affront to public opinion, as a Pew Research Center Survey last year shows:

  • 93% of adults say that being in control of who can get information about them is important; 74% feel this is “very important,” while 19% say it is “somewhat important.”
  • 90% say that controlling what information is collected about them is important—65% think it is “very important” and 25% say it is “somewhat important.”

Despite such overwhelming public sentiment, Republican majorities in both the House and Senate have voted in recent days to scuttle the privacy protections authorized last October by the Federal Communications Commission, protections that were scheduled to take effect later this year. That FCC measure passed on a 3-2 party-line vote, with then-Chairman Tom Wheeler and two fellow Democratic appointees in the majority, and current Chairman Ajit Pai and fellow Republican Michael O’Reilly opposed.

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Network World Paul McNamara