ISPs Slated to Extend Invasive Privacy Reach

By Published March 25, 2017 at 3:24 pm
ISPs Slated to Extend Invasive Privacy Reach Image Source: Pinterest

Senate Republicans have voted to rescind momentous laws protecting Internet privacy that the FCC wrote and adopted last year. U.S. senators voted 50 to 48 to approve a joint resolution sponsored by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz) that would prevent that privacy framework from going into effect. What’s more, the resolution seeks to bar the FCC from enacting similar laws. As of March 23rd, 2017, the resolution has passed the senate and moves toward the House where, barring a complete backlash, it will likely pass.

The Federal Communications Commission’s new rules were adopted last year to prevent ISPs from exploiting users’ behavioral data in contentious ways, such as selling it to paying third parties or creating targeted advertising. ISPs are no longer interested in just being network providers; they seek to monetize the consumer’s routine use of the internet to create their own digital economy—and they seek to do it without explicit consent. The previous FCC leadership viewed this as an overreach, thus the new privacy rules were set to go in effect. The rules primarily ensured the following:

  • Require internet service providers (ISPs) to ask for permission before collecting sensitive information such as content of communications, precise geo-location, financial information, and more.
  • Allow users to opt-out of giving ISPs non-sensitive information such as email addresses.
  • Only allow ISPs to collect basic service information without which the service couldn’t be provided without any kind of consent from their customers.
  • Notify customers within 30 days that their data has been stolen in a data breach.

As of now, the Republican-led Senate is rolling them back. Opponents of the regulations argue that they are unfair, heavy-handed, broad, and complex. Privacy and digital rights advocates view the regulations as necessary, and that gutting them is the first step towards dismantling net neutrality. According to FFTF (Fight for The Future), gutting of the privacy rules will enable ISPs to:

  • Monitor and sell all your location data, search history, app usage, and browsing habits to advertisers without your permission.
  • Hijack your search results, redirecting your traffic to paying third parties.
  • Insert ads into web pages that would otherwise not have them.

Naturally, the vote has been praised by industry groups and lobbyists representing internet providers. It’s not difficult to see why ISPs oppose privacy regulations, especially in the wake of online entities such as Google and Facebook. An article over at The Washington Post illustrates how ISPs can generate revenue from customers multiple times, by providing them with internet access and in turn having uninhibited access to their usage data; it is a business model that allows ISPs to sell access to a network, sell content over the network, and sell data from users on the network.

As stated above, the resolution has passed the Senate, and will move to the House for a similar vote. Assuming it passes there, it will go to President Trump for signing and approval, becoming law. Fight for The Future has an online petition that can be signed, and people will need to contact their representatives.

Here are the Senators who voted against internet privacy. As an online organization with authority in the technology space, we strongly encourage our readers to research this momentous issue and contact their representatives to voice opinions. It does matter, and has helped with online privacy rights in the past.

Editorial: Eric Hamilton

Last modified on March 25, 2017 at 3:24 pm

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