Here’s What Your Internet Service Provider Can Sell Without Your Permission

Hackers can Breach Systems and Steal Vital Data within a Day

Privacy watchdogs were outraged by the events that happened this Tuesday when the Republicans voted and allowed Internet Service Providers (ISP) to sell your information to the highest bidder, with or without your consent. The information that has now pretty much become ISP’s property include your financial and medical info, web browsing history, social security numbers, mobile app usage and even the content of your online chats and emails.

Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) consumer privacy rules which were set to go into effect sometime later this year would have required ISP to get your permission to sell any sort of information regarding you. Unfortunately, the results of this vote, which were 215 – 205 are pretty much making these privacy rules obsolete.

Craig Aaron, the CEO of a DC-based public interest group called Free Press Action Fund has said that the Republicans voted to take away privacy rights of hundreds of millions of Americans just so a few companies could make even bigger profits.

“Ignoring calls from thousands of their constituents, House Republicans just joined their colleagues in the Senate in violating internet users’ privacy rights,” Aaron stated.

The Senate has passed its version of the legislation just last week, and President Trump is expected to sign the measure soon. Introducing this measure is a part of widening Republican campaign to reverse federal safeguards of the economy. This includes the rules that protect public health, consumer interests, and even the environment.

Privacy watchdogs claim that the FCC’s policy is necessary because of the insight that the ISPs have in your online activities. Everything you do online, everything you search, every app you use, they can see in their network. The only way to protect your privacy is to use VPN (Virtual Private Network), and if you’re not using one, then all of your online data is being tracked down and collected by the ISP. This data is immensely valuable because it can be used for profile and marketing purposes, and the ISP doesn’t need your permission to use it or to sell it.

Many people are outraged because of this new development. The Massachusetts Democrat Michael Capuano demanded an explanation “What the heck are you thinking? What is in your mind? Why would you want to give out any of your personal information to a faceless corporation for the sole purpose of them selling it?”

Apparently, this nullification of the FCC privacy policy is possible due to a controversial legislative tool called the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The so-called “Resolutions of disapproval” passed under the CRA cannot be filibustered, and that makes it impossible for the agency in question (FCC in this case), to adopt these or any similar privacy rules in the future.

Dallas Harris of the digital rights group called Public Knowledge stated that if President Trump signs this resolution, there will be no way to protect the privacy of America’s internet users and that the Americans will go from being internet users to being marketing data.

Many of the Republicans responsible for this attack on the FCC’s privacy rules have received vast sums of campaign cash from the broadband industry. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee has received about  $75,750 from AT&T and $72,650 from Verizon over the course of the last 14 years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. She has also received $49,500 from Comcast, and $66,000 from NCTA.

The broadband industry has been known to complain about the FCC’s privacy policy for the last year. They felt it was unfair because it does not apply to Google, Facebook and similar “edge providers”, and instead of fighting it in order to create a more leveled playfield, the Republicans chose to eliminate the privacy policy completely.

Senior Legislative Manager at Access Now, Nathan White stated that “If President Trump was serious about his campaign promises to stand up for the rights of the individual over the powerful special interests in Washington DC, then he would veto this bill.”