How Congress dismantled federal Internet privacy rules

Congressional Republicans knew their plan was potentially explosive. They wanted to kill landmark privacy regulations that would soon ban Internet providers, such as Comcast and AT&T, from storing and selling customers’ browsing histories without their express consent.

So after weeks of closed-door debates on Capitol Hill over who would take up the issue first — the House or the Senate — Republican members settled on a secret strategy, according to Hill staff and lobbyists involved in the battle. While the nation was distracted by the House’s pending vote to repeal Obamacare, Senate Republicans would schedule a vote to wipe out the new privacy protections.

On March 23, the measure passed on a straight party-line vote, 50 to 48. Five days later, a majority of House Republicans voted in favor of it, sending it to the White House, where President Trump signed the bill in early April without ceremony or public comment.

“While everyone was focused on the latest headline crisis coming out of the White House, Congress was able to roll back privacy,” said former Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler, who worked for nearly two years to pass the rules.

The process to eliminate them took only a matter of weeks. The blowback was immediate.

Constituents heckled several of the lawmakers at town halls. “You sold my privacy up the river!” one person yelled at Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) — lead sponsor of the Senate bill — at a gathering in April. Several late-night comedians roasted congressional Republicans: “This is what’s wrong with Washington, D.C. I guarantee you there is not one person, not one voter of any political stripe anywhere in America who asked for this,” Stephen Colbert said.

The quick undoing of the Internet privacy rules has prompted lawmakers in more than a dozen states to propose local laws to restore privacy protections to their constituents.

The FCC privacy rules were among the first of more than a hundred regulations and laws being targeted for elimination or massive overhaul by Trump and Republican members of Congress who want to dismantle Obama-era regulations they view as burdensome.

How the privacy rules came to be undone helps to explain and inform the strategies behind the broader range of Republican initiatives in the works. The rollback of privacy, for example, was the first step by the Republican-led FCC to overhaul Obama-era net neutrality rules .

The rolling crises within Trump’s administration and Republican infighting has slowed Republican lawmakers’ work on Capitol Hill. But they remain positioned to capi­tal­ize on their control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, a power structure that has not existed in more than a decade.

“Trump and the Republicans are doing so many different things on parallel tracks, the news media and activists can’t follow it all,” said Trump adviser and former House speaker Newt Gingrich. “This is by design.”

BlackBerry’s Privacy Shade App Prevents Bystanders From Peeking Into Your Phone

 

HIGHLIGHTS
Privacy Shade app is only available for BlackBerry users
It helps in avoiding others from snooping into your phone
The app darkens entire screen except for a small view area
While laptop makers have introduced several workarounds to avoid nosy eyes from peeking from behind, smartphones haven’t really been able to address that pain point. Users, especially with large smartphone screens, have always found people (particularly the nosy ones) leaning over to read that personal text or see what you’re browsing. BlackBerry is trying to address this woe by launching an app called Privacy Shade.BlackBerry's Privacy Shade App Prevents Bystanders From Peeking Into Your Phone

The Android app makes the entire screen dark, except for a small view area that can be moved around to what you really want to read on the screen. The viewing area can change shapes from a bar to a circle, depending on what you prefer. Furthermore, the transparency of the darkened screen can also be manually adjusted, so for those who are extra paranoid, they could maximise the shade to near opaque for optimal privacy.
It is worth noting that this app is only available only to BlackBerry devices, so not all users will be able to take advantage of the nifty app. You can check if you own a compatible Blackberry device by trying to download it from the Google Play Store, or you can also sideload it from APK Mirror. Downloading from APK Mirror doesn’t lift the restriction limit of BlackBerry devices, Android Police reports.

BB Merah Putih, the company that currently holds the right to manufacture and sell BlackBerry smartphones in Indonesia, recently launched the BlackBerry Aurora smartphone for the country. The dual-SIM (Micro-SIM) based BlackBerry Aurora runs Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the-box and sports a 5.5-inch (720×1280 pixels) display. It is priced at IDR 3,499,000 (roughly Rs. 17,400) in Indonesia.

For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Tags: Privacy Shade App, Blackberry, Apps, Android, Privacy Shade