Last week, US President Donald Trump signed a bill that rolled back privacy regulations for ISPs. Now, ISPs are free to sell your personal information.
It made big headlines last week. President Trump signed a bill that effectively eliminated ISP level privacy. One of the articles detailing what happened explains it like this:
After his press secretary blasted it as an example of fighting rampant government overreach, President Donald Trump signed a bill into law Monday that could eventually allow internet providers to sell information about their customers’ browsing habits.
The bill scraps a Federal Communications Commission online privacy regulation issued in October to give consumers more control over how companies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon share that information. Critics have argued that the rule would stifle innovation and pick winners and losers among internet companies.
In the wake of the repeal of Internet privacy, American ISPs found themselves on the defensive. A number of the big players said that, in the wake of the privacy repeal, they said they won’t sell user’s browser histories. From Reusters:
Comcast Corp, Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc said Friday they would not sell customers’ individual internet browsing information, days after the U.S. Congress approved legislation reversing Obama administration era internet privacy rules.
“We do not sell our broadband customers’ individual web browsing history. We did not do it before the FCC’s rules were adopted, and we have no plans to do so,” said Gerard Lewis, Comcast’s chief privacy officer.
Verizon does not sell personal web browsing histories and has no plans to do so in the future, said spokesman Richard Young.
While these statements seem straight forward enough, Techdirt accused the ISP’s of lobbying for the rollback of user privacy regulations.
Meanwhile, the EFF offered some recommendations on how to protect your privacy from the ISPs in the first place. These recommendations include picking an ISP that respects your privacy, opting out of super cookies, and using VPN services.
While the rollback of privacy rights may seem like a US domestic issue, the news has far reaching implications well beyond the borders. Michael Geist notes that the move could shape NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) negotiations. Of course, the shockwaves are likely being felt outside of the continent as well.
Even for Trump supporters, the move is problematic. This is because one of the pillars of Trumps election campaign is that he is putting American’s first. With the rollback of privacy rights, it proves that some American’s may be more valuable to him than others.