The US Senate has voted to overturn Obama-era rules requiring internet providers to protect users' privacy.
The upper house voted 58-40 to allow telcos such as Verizon (NYSE: Verizon Communications [VZ]), Comcast (NASDAQ: Comcast Corporation [CMCSA]) and AT&T (NYSE: AT&T [T]) to continue tracking and sharing customers' browsing and app activity without permission.
The decision abolishes regulations that required internet providers to obtain permission from customers before using geolocation, financial information, health information, children's information and web browsing history for advertising and internal marketing.
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said the vote had scrapped a rule that "makes the internet an uneven playing field, increases complexity, discourages competition, innovation, and infrastructure investment."
Democrats, who overwhelmingly opposed the move, warned that the telcos have will now have more power to collect and sell their customers' sensitive information.
"Republicans have just made it easier for American’s sensitive information about their health, finances and families to be used, shared, and sold to the highest bidder without their permission," Democratic Senator Ed Markey said.
The bill will now go to the House of Representatives, where its fate is uncertain.