The Republican Congress has passed legislation, that Trump has promised to sign, repealing Obama-era Internet privacy protections that prevent your Internet provider (Verizon, Xfinity/Comcast, Time Warner) from selling your Web surfing history and the history of where you’ve been physically, to the highest bidder.
Privacy advocates are understandably a tad freaked.
(You can also sign the same petition at the bottom of this page.)
The legislation was passed by the US House last week, was just passed by the US Senate, and Trump has already indicated he “strongly supports it.”
What would the legislation actually do? It would let anyone buy your Web and GPS history. Per CNN, here’s what the legislation did:
The rules, which had not yet gone into effect, would have required Internet service providers to get your permission before collecting and sharing your data on everything from web browsing history to geo-location information. Providers would also have been required to notify customers about the types of information collected and shared.
What does that potentially mean in practice?
1. Could future employers buy your Web surfing history to check out your political views, health, sexual orientation and gender identity, race, and overall pervy-ness?
2. Could current and divorcing spouses buy your GPS history to see where exactly you’ve been all those nights you claimed to be working late?
3. Could police departments and the FBI buy your GPS data to track your location, business and personal transactions, and avoid a pesky warrant?
4. On the run from an abusive spouse? Could your abusive spouse, or stalker, use this legislation to ensure they get the info they need to track you down?
5. Could insurance companies buy your Web history in an effort to determine just how healthy you really are? Doing a few too many searches about cancer, are we? Same goes for your current or future employer.
6. Are you a gay, bi, or transgender person in the closet and surfing a bit too many LGBT sites? Anyone can find out your secret for the right price.
7. Has anyone in government done anything online, visited any site, that they really don’t want others to know about? Absolutely. This legislation could potentially open them up for blackmail.
Mind you, Donald Trump refuses to even release his taxes, which has been standard operation procedure since Nixon, but Trump thinks you should release your browsing history and geo-location to the highest bidder?
Now, detractors claim, rightfully, that the Obama-era privacy regulations that cover this topic weren’t fully implemented yet, so the repeal of those regs doesn’t really any an impact. The thing is, why is this one of the first pieces of legislation that the GOP House and GOP Senate, and Donald Trump, and putting into law? Because someone wants those regulations stopped because someone plans on selling your private information to the highest bidder. So it’s irrelevant if your privacy hasn’t been violated yet — someone is planning on it, soon.
Another criticism — this legislation won’t stop Google and Facebook from doing the same thing, tracking you and your Web preferences, and selling it to advertisers. Okay. Then maybe that’s something we should look into. But the notion that Google and Facebook may be violating your privacy, so we’d better let Verizon and Xfinity do it to, really doesn’t pass muster.
And finally, lets someone argue that there is no threat because your data is “anonymized,” it’s really not.
Add your name — demand Donald Trump veto any legislation making it easier for Internet Service Providers to sell your privacy surfing and geo-location information.
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