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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.

Here's what it means...

For broadband providers: AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Charter and other ISPs have access to an enormous amount of data about their customers, including online browsing history. Right now (since the rules haven't actually gone into effect yet), they don't have restrictions on collecting that data and sharing it with others, as long as consumers haven't specifically told them not to. They have long argued that the rules, which only applied to ISPs, put them at a disadvantage when trying to compete with established tech giants for ad revenue.

For web companies: Google, Facebook, Yahoo and other online platforms dominate the online advertising market. The FCC's rules didn't apply to them, but their industry trade groups opposed the rules because it opens the door to regulations in the consumer data arena.

For advertisers: The major advertising groups, from the Association of National Advertisers to the Data and Marketing Association, are cheering. Striking the rules means less red tape for a big business partner— the ISPs.

For consumers: Since the rules haven't taken effect, consumers won't notice much difference. But privacy advocates say consumers need more control over how their data is used, and view Congress's actions as a major setback.

What's next: If the Senate signs off on the resolution to overturn the rules, it will move over to the House. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune said Wednesday evening that, even though some of his House colleagues have not always been as adamant about moving forward, his "assumption is that once we move it here the pressure will start to build on them to move it over there."

Go deeper

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.

1 hour ago - World

U.S. fears Iran won’t scale back to 2015 nuclear deal

Officials gather in Vienna on Sept. 29 for the first day of renewed nuclear talks with Iran. Photo: EU Vienna Delegation/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.S. officials have extremely low expectations as world powers resume negotiations with Iran to curb its nuclear program, believing the Iranians aren't yet ready to negotiate seriously, Axios is told.

Driving the news: Senior officials in the U.S. intelligence community have assessed the new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, thinks of his predecessor, Hassan Rouhani, as a weak accommodationist who negotiated a bad deal with the U.S. and other world powers in 2015.