Internet Privacy is Not Going Down Without a Fight or Tools

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Internet privacy protections against allowing ISPs to sell individuals’ browsing histories may have been repealed, but members of Congress and consumer advocates are fighting back.

After repeal of Federal Communications Commission rules that would have required consent to allow Internet Service Providers to sell their individual Internet browsing histories, major ISPs have promised not to sell them.

However, Representative Jacky Rosen, a Nevada democrat and former software developer, introduced the Restoring American Privacy Act of 2017. A similar bill cosponsored by ten senators also aims to re-establish Obama-era privacy protections for customers of broadband Internet access service and other telecommunications services.

“As someone who has first-hand experience as a computer programmer, I know that keeping privacy protections in place is essential for safeguarding vulnerable and sensitive data from hackers,” said Rosen in a prepared statement.

“I will not stand by and let corporations get access to the most intimate parts of people’s lives without them knowing and without consent. It is appalling that Republicans and President Trump would be in favor of taking Americans’ most personal information to sell it to the highest bidder.”

According to the Register, while the bills have little chance of passing a Congress that just passed the repeal of these protections, states like Minnesota and Illinois have started to enact their own privacy legislation.

The Data & Marketing Association (DMA) Applauded

The ISPs that pledged not to sell individual privacy data could still sell the data as part of a group. It’s all thrilling for marketers, according to Adweek.

“This is an important victory for all who benefit from the data-driven marketing economy, including tens of thousands of businesses and nonprofit organizations and hundreds of millions of consumers,” said Emmett O’Keefe, the DMA’s advocacy svp, in a prepared statement.

Evan Greer of Fight for the Future told Adweek via email “It’s no surprise that the industry that stands the most to gain by buying and selling our sensitive personal information is applauding this vote, which strips Internet users of basic protections that allow us to use the Web safely and privately.”

People Want Privacy

Individuals want control over what information is made public, according to a LifeHacker story that dates back to 2012, which relied on a 2009 Know Privacy study and an interview with Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) Rainey Reitman.

EFF developed a tool called Privacy Badger that individuals can download to block third-party spying and invisible trackers. Upon release of version 2.0 in December, EFF reported that the tool had more than 900,000 daily users.

Learn more and download Privacy Badger on EFF’s website.

 

About the author

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox is Editor of EfficientGov.com and Senior Editor at Lexipol. She is based in Massachusetts.