Has our privacy just been sold to the highest bidder?

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    Repealing internet privacy protections passed in the final days of the Obama presidency, congress has allowed internet providers to sell our browsing history to the highest bidder.

    Has our privacy just been sold to the highest bidder?

    Far too many politicians seem to run for elected office for nothing more than to leave their mark in the form of legislation which they support and to line their own pockets. The vote on Tuesday to repeal the privacy protections passed mere months earlier strips the rights of consumers to opt out of having their browsing history tracked and collected by the Comcasts and Century Links of the world.

    If this feels like something out of George Orwell’s “1984”, you might just be on to something.

    In a world where we at least had the illusion of our browsing history being private, we felt as comfortable as possible heading over to WebMD to find out if the odd symptoms you've been experiencing recently mean that you are actually sick. Imagine in the not-too-distant future having a health insurance company deny you coverage because the data in the search history that they bought as they researched your risk level contained info that you may be sick due to your internet browsing history! It may seem far-fetched but there is now the very real possibility of this happening.

    You may be thinking that you have nothing to hide in terms of your internet browsing but the possible implications, like the example above, should shed some light on how big corporations could potentially use this data to benefit themselves and leave you hung out to dry.

    While the example above may be far-fetched and if or when our internet browsing history is sold, it will more likely be for advertising purposes. Do we really want advertising messages related to our formerly private browsing history arriving in our mailboxes? Given what some of the most searched terms are on Google, more than a few people might be scared half to death to open their mailbox each day!

    The fact that the internet search history of Americans is now essentially for sale should be a concern to all – regardless of political party affiliation. Privacy is something that we have taken for granted, but now that it could very well be taken away, what can we do?

    The first step is to contact your elected officials and let them know that having your formerly private internet browsing data collected and sold to the highest bidder doesn’t sit too well with you. The second is to do your due diligence when you sign a new contract with your internet provider. Pay attention to the page or pages of fine print, ask questions before signing contracts and know if they can change the terms of their privacy agreements in the future without your consent. Lastly, get technical about it. There are virtual private networks (VPNs) which promise truly anonymous browsing as well as the TOR browser which essentially does the same although goes about anonymizing your browsing in a different fashion.

    The next step is hoping that our elected officials come to their senses and realize that they are supposed to represent citizens and not businesses. Given that this repeal passed solidly along party lines, I wouldn’t hold out hope of common sense prevailing.

    Of course, individual states could step up to bat and protect consumers even when the federal government sold privacy to whomever has the cash to buy it. Minnesota lawmakers appear to be able to think for themselves and passed internet privacy protections which is the complete opposite of what happened in Washington, DC just a day earlier.

    The last step is to give up on getting your information online. We all know that idea is downright crazy so keep your fingers crossed or get used to mailing and reading more books. I, for one, am hoping that common sense prevails but this is the government we’re talking about so…

    The Scrapping Of Internet Privacy: Something We Can All Hate Together
    Last edit by Joe V on Mar 30
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  3. by   herring_RN
    As Congress Repeals Internet Privacy Rules, Putting Your Options In Perspective
    March 28, 2017
    President Trump is expected to sign into law a decision by Congress to overturn new privacy rules for Internet service providers.
    Passed by the Federal Communications Commission in October, the rules never went into effect. If they had, it would have given consumers more control over how ISPs use the data they collect. Most notably, the rules would have required explicit consent from consumers if sensitive data — like financial or health information, or browsing history — were to be shared or sold...
    As Congress Repeals Internet Privacy Rules, Putting Your Options In Perspective : All Tech Considered : NPR
  4. by   elkpark
    Get used to it -- this is the kind of thing we have to look forward to from the Trump administration and GOP-majority Congress. They won't miss a chance to benefit big business by screwing over regular folks.
  5. by   Avid reader
    The thing is that there is probably no bigger perverts and criminals than the Republicans who just sold us out. I'll wager they have provisions in place for themselves. I can also see this really coming back to bite them in the form of hacked histories of the said officials being posted online. Sometimes I really wonder if it's about the money for them or genetic anomalies displaying the gargantuan levels of stupidity and inbreeding. Banjo times
  6. by   elkpark
    I believe it was Chris Hayes on MSNBC last night who was talking about a GoFundMe campaign that was started to raise money to buy the search histories of the top Repugs in Congress and release them publicly. You can donate money and vote on whose search history you most want to see. The current amount raised is >$100k, and the top three names so far are Paul Ryan, Marsha Blackburn of TN (not sure why, but, okay ...), and Mitch McConnell, in that order.
  7. by   Lil Nel
    I really had to chuckle the other night as I read about a Republican member of Congress defending his refusal to demand Trump's tax returns by saying he believed in the "right to privacy." These words coming out of the mouth of party that just sold-out the privacy rights of the rest of us! Too funny. These Republicans are real Jokers.
  8. by   azhiker96
    Max Temkin has vowed to purchase and publish the browsing history of everyone who voted for this law. I think this is great and hope he follows through.

    It was already bad enough that the government had free access to our electronic tracks.
  9. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from azhiker96
    Max Temkin has vowed to purchase and publish the browsing history of everyone who voted for this law. I think this is great and hope he follows through.

    It was already bad enough that the government had free access to our electronic tracks.
    I went to an eye-opening assembly at our local high school a couple of weeks ago.

    The staff had encountered problems with a particular group of students who were texting naked photos of themselves and/or others who shared photos. The admin tried to "educate" the students and worked with parents but this continued as a big "F" you by the students. I personally know the students in question and yes, it was a big "F" you.

    The district ended up with having our local DA and a member of the Cyber-Crime Sheriff's Department come up and speak at both high schools in our district.

    We have no privacy. At all. Everything we do on the internet is already available to those savvy enough to want to access it. Even things we think we delete, are still out there. It was rather scary to me and I changed a lot of things regarding the only social media I use, which is FB. Even so, everything I've ever put on there is "out there" somewhere.

    A law saying someone can't "sell" your private info is kind of pointless in my opinion now. It is already readily available to someone who wants it.

    My search engine info comes up regularly as ads on FB and here on AN.

    They've already got us folks.
  10. by   elkpark
    Quote from Spidey's mom
    I went to an eye-opening assembly at our local high school a couple of weeks ago.

    The staff had encountered problems with a particular group of students who were texting naked photos of themselves and/or others who shared photos. The admin tried to "educate" the students and worked with parents but this continued as a big "F" you by the students. I personally know the students in question and yes, it was a big "F" you.

    The district ended up with having our local DA and a member of the Cyber-Crime Sheriff's Department come up and speak at both high schools in our district.

    We have no privacy. At all. Everything we do on the internet is already available to those savvy enough to want to access it. Even things we think we delete, are still out there. It was rather scary to me and I changed a lot of things regarding the only social media I use, which is FB. Even so, everything I've ever put on there is "out there" somewhere.

    A law saying someone can't "sell" your private info is kind of pointless in my opinion now. It is already readily available to someone who wants it.

    My search engine info comes up regularly as ads on FB and here on AN.

    They've already got us folks.
    To me, this sounds like a more sophisticated than usual deflection in defense of the GOP. Yes, we're all aware that anything we do on the internet can be tracked and hacked, and nothing ever really disappears. But to justify rolling back these regulations by saying, Oh well, it doesn't matter because they already do it, is, IMO, no different than saying, well, people rob banks anyway, so we might as well repeal the laws against robbing banks.
  11. by   heron
    I could be wrong, but I recently read that those regulations hadn't even gone into effect yet.

    I agree that the move is deplorable - but my hair isn't on fire over it yet. Meanwhile, I also read that the plan to sell off public lands is still in the works, after Jason Chaffetz promised to pull it. Then there is the fact that climate research data is rapidly disappearing from government websites.

    Yee haw! Condos in Yellowstone (complete with geothermal heating)! Ski lodges in Yosemite! Right next to the coal mines. Climate change, you say? Where's the data? No data, no climate change, right?
    Last edit by heron on Mar 31
  12. by   Lil Nel
    Yes, the information is out there. But the point is, these companies are making money off of YOU and it is really YOUR information.

    So, shouldn't YOU be the one to make the money off of YOUR information?

    The regulations hadn't taken effect yet. But just look at who stands to profit from the nixing of the regulations. As usual, follow the money and then follow where the money trickles even further.
  13. by   Avid reader
    None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
  14. by   Avid reader
    Classic Faustian bargain.

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