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Kim Hart Mar 23, 2017
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Senate backing Comcast, Google, Facebook, AT&T on privacy

Matt Rourke / AP File Photo

Republicans in Congress are barreling ahead to overturn FCC privacy rules opposed by a rare union of broadband providers and internet companies. A vote is expected today.

The rules adopted by the FCC last fall require broadband providers to first get permission from their customers before sharing or selling sensitive personal data to advertisers and other third-parties. Rolling back the rules would be a victory to both broadband providers (like AT&T and Comcast) and internet companies (like Google and Facebook). Why? Because getting rid of the rules makes it easier to use consumer data, including web-browsing and app-use habits, to target ads.

Why it matters: Online advertising is a primary revenue stream for web companies and a growing one for ISPs. The $72 billion online advertising market is expected to grow to more than $113 billion by 2020, according to eMarketer. Right now that market is dominated by companies like Google and Facebook, but broadband providers also want a piece of that pie and say nixing the privacy rules would help them compete against the more established web players.