The United States Congress has voted to nullify the FCC’s (Federal Communication Commission) internet privacy and safety laws, which were approved by FCC in the final days of the Obama administration. These rules averted the ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) from selling their customers’ personal web browsing data including financial, medical or innately private data.
It’s 29th of March 2017, and President Trump is about to sign this regulation this week. The FCC’s rules made it mandatory for the ISP’s to ask their customers before using and selling any part of their data. Those rules would no longer be in effect. The Senate has passed the same bill, and it is only waiting for Trump’s signature. The White House has green signaled it and stated that he would do so very soon.
What Exactly Happens When These Rules Are in Effect
If in case Trump signs these new set of rules, which is highly likely now, the ISP’s will be allowed to utilize and see their customer’s online behavior without their permission and sell it to highly targeted ads – acting as a gold mine for advertising giants like Google and Facebook in the $83 billion online market.
The House vote was 215 to 205, with most Republicans voting to eradicate privacy rules and all Democrats voting to retain them.
The ISPs will also be able to sell their customers’ information straight to marketers, financial organization and other companies that mine personal data for targeting their customers. In addition to that, the FCC which previously framed the protection policy would be prohibited from providing the same kind of rules in future.
This vote is going to expose the internet users’ privacy at all the levels.
“Today’s vote means that Americans will never be safe online from having their most personal details stealthily scrutinized and sold to the highest bidder,” said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy.
The internet providers were already making money by selling access to the web, but now they are looking to increase their revenue by acquiring the tremendous amount of data their customers create as they visit any site for reading, downloading, watching videos or pretty much doing anything on the web.
“Consumers have a choice whether to use a search engine, social network or an app, but few have choices among what broadband provider to choose,” said Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colorado. “This rule would literally change how broadband providers have access to your entire personal life,” he said.
(Via: Washington Post)
The opponents of the privacy rules (rules that were about to set for better privacy, but didn’t get implemented) argued that it would be a burden on the broadband service providers asking the customers each time to make use of their data and keeping large companies like Facebook and Google under restrictive policies.
“It totally wipes out privacy protections for consumers on the Internet,” Democratic Representative Anna Eshoo said on the floor. “I don’t want anyone to take my information and sell it to someone and make a ton of money off of it just because they can get their mitts on it.”
Michael Capuano, a Democratic Representative, took it one step further. “Just last week, I bought underwear on the internet,” he said. “Why should you know what size I take, or the color, or any of that information?
(via USA Today)
Way to Keep Your Internet Privacy Intact?
As most people cannot just run away from using the internet so they will be left helpless as they do not have many options. A virtual private network, or a VPN, can be an option to protect your online activity. Many popular VPN providers have seen a drastic increase in consumer interest and sign-ups since the day Senate voted on eliminating the privacy rules.
The vote is going to make public, your intimate and personal data through the service providers using which they will make a tremendous profit. The only surefire way to avoid this from now is using a public network like TOR or a VPN service which entirely encrypts your surfing data and thus keeps it private even from your ISP’s.
The consumers who value their privacy and are against making it public are now going to see ads and promotions relevant to their interest even if they don’t want to.
“I have a simple question: what the heck are you thinking?” Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) said in a debate on the House floor. “What is in your mind? Why would you want to give up any of your personal information to a faceless corporation for the sole purpose of them selling it? Give me one good reason why Comcast should know my mother’s medical problems.”
The chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, made a statement praising the lawmakers. He said the previous regulations picked “winners and losers,” benefiting certain companies over others – which go against the rules of net-neutrality.
Half of the Americans or more, have no choice over their ISP’s. If you don’t prefer your ISP to collect your data, then you won’t be able to do much on the internet and the providers know this very well. It’s nearly impossible to expect that these companies will choose to go without
sharing selling your data, which unlocks more dollars for them, and instead secure their customers’ privacy and protection.
Your privacy in now in your hands. Educate yourself and learn to secure your data.