Barely one week ago, the Internet privacy protections which had been enacted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) were voted removed by the United States Senate. What’s worse, following suit right on their heels, less than 48 hours later, the House of Representatives did the same. All that’s needed now is the signature of the President of the United States. What this means is that the highest bidder will now be able to purchase your private Internet history from Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, etc.
Specifically, what was voted upon by the United States Congress was “S. J.Res 34”. The FCC was responsible for regulating broadband privacy. S. J.Ress 34 takes that responsibility away. It also, however, makes sure that in the future the FCC never again gets the opportunity to regulate your online privacy, or protect it.
Internet Data Should Remain Private – It’s Sensitive!
Almost anyone can take your personal life and build an accurate picture of it if they have your website data. It’s basically a fingerprint. Things like your health status and your precise location can even be revealed, which is much more sensitive, through app data.
If insurance companies could access your fitness app, would they turn you down because you don’t appear to get enough exercise? (That is assuming any of us has insurance.) Well, if insurance companies are allowed to buy your data from app makers, this could become reality.
The irresponsibility level of a decision like this is astounding. Is a few people’s profit worth the privacy of so many being jeopardized?
Profiting from Your Lost Internet Privacy
And profit is exactly what this is all about – all of the data that the Internet providers are privy to being used to sell targeted advertising. It doesn’t stop there. In all likelihood, third-party marketers may be privy to the information as well.
And guess who was pushing for the ‘yes’ vote on S.J.Res 34… Lobbying the Senators in their direction were the ISPs and telecom companies. They and other S.J.Res 34 supporters would have you believe that app data and website information should in no way be considered sensitive information.
Why did S.J.Res 34 Get Past the Senate?
The vote preventing privacy laws by the FCC from becoming effective was close, however, at 50-48. In the minds of those who voted for S.J.Res 34, the regulations by the FCC simply went too far. Apparently, the majority of the Senate thinks that our browsing data, mobile location data, and customer data (you know, sensitive information) is fair game; whereas the FCC didn’t think that that type of information was something that Internet providers should be allowed to share and abuse.
Fortunately, Internet providers may still be held accountable for privacy abuses by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and state attorneys general. Trying to hold the abusers of our sensitive information and privacy accountable, however, will, in essence, be attempting to force reactionary law rather than simply preventing it from the get-go.
And if they are prosecuted (and that’s a big IF), what will the penalty be? Most importantly, will it get your internet privacy back? In the meantime, one of the best things you can do now is to use proxies to preserve your internet privacy.