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Screw ISPs, have we lost all privacy when it comes to browsing the internet?
We might lose the biggest privilege when it comes to privacy and our internet browsing. On March 23rd, 2017, the US Senate votes on S.J.Res 34, which would use the Congressional Review Act to strip away online privacy protections gained under the FCC and also disallow the FCC from enacting privacy rules in the future. The resolution, if passed along with its House counterpart and then signed into law, would pass the responsibility of online privacy regulation from the FCC onto the FTC, with the American public losing out in the meantime.
The FCC online privacy rules currently require ISPs to get your affirmative consent before selling your personal, sensitive information to advertisers. Notably, the FCC didn’t go as far as to ban “pay-for-privacy” schemes that were being offered by some ISPs. Back in 2016, when the FCC passed sweeping net neutrality and online privacy rules for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and telecoms to follow, the FTC did release a statement titled: Net Neutrality and Privacy: Don’t Fear the Reclassification.
The Senators that proposed this resolution did so for a reason
If you’re wondering whether or not the Senators that proposed S.J.Res 34 received any money from ISPs or telecoms, the answer is a resounding yes. Vocativ has a nice infographic that shows which Senators have received donations from telecoms and ISPs, and even trade groups like the CTIA. In a recent filing with the FCC, the CTIA has been attempting to push the idea that web browsing history and app usage data are not sensitive information.
The opposition to this Senate Resolution comes from far and wide, as it should. The internet history of every American is what is at stake, and there are advertising agencies around the world waiting to scoop up your private information. ACLU Counsel Neema Singh Guliani warned “With this move, Congress is essentially allowing companies like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon to sell consumers’ private information to the highest bidder”
Senator Brian Schatz called it:
“The single biggest step backwards in online privacy in many years.”
Senator Edward Markey commented:
“Just as phone companies cannot sell information about Americans’ phone calls, an internet service provider should not be allowed to sell sensitive consumer information without affirmative consent.”
What can you do to protect your online privacy?
Even if S.J.Res 34 makes it through the Senate, Americans still have one last chance in the House of Representatives to make a stand. The exact date for the vote for the House counterpart to S.J.Res 34, H.J.Res 86, still isn’t set yet; however, it is slated to be in the next month.
Join Fight for the Future (FFTF) at their new website Save Broadband Privacy to sign a petition to tell members of Congress to save #BroadbandPrivacy. FFTF concisely described why you should care if these laws are passed and FCC online privacy rules are revoked and never allowed to come back again:
This isn’t just your browsing history or cookies. It’s geolocation data, financial info, passwords, health info, even your Social Security Number. Anything you do, any data you enter, any online video you watch, any email you write. Your ISP could store it all and sell it for their own profit if Congress throws out the FCC rulings.
About Caleb Chen
Caleb Chen is a digital currency and privacy advocate. Caleb holds a Master’s in Digital Currency from the University of Nicosia as well as a Bachelor’s from the University of Virginia. He believes that the world is moving towards a better tomorrow, bit by bit by Bitcoin.