Internet Privacy? Or Internet Sharing? US Internet Privacy Rules Diminished
Your web browsing history, personal information, email headers, and more are increasingly at risk now, and your overall privacy is now harmed immensely online due to a new act by the House of Representatives to remove internet privacy rules.
What we have seen is a colossal fall from grace in the internet world for privacy protections; however, things are even worse than just a drop from privacy status: Internet privacy, or better yet, personal privacy no longer are a concern for the government. What's the big deal? Information sharing is now a great possibility, whether or not it is personally identifiable.
MSN-News wrote: “Republicans in the US House of Representatives on Tuesday followed their colleagues in the Senate with a vote to approve a resolution that uses the Congressional Review Act to prevent privacy rules passed by the Federal Communications Commission last year from taking effect. The vote was 231 in favor of the resolution and 189 opposing the measure.src ”
The rules to protect your privacy are out of the way, and ISPs are able now to sell your private data, including web searches. "ISPs like Comcast, AT&T, and Charter will be free to sell your personal information to the highest bidder without your permission -- and no one will be able to protect you," Gigi Sohn, an advisor to former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler wrote in an op-ed on Tuesday. Nonetheless, we are not able to protect our own ability to browse specific sites without being spied upon. Internet spyware has increased tremendously now, and it starts with your web browser and goes as far as it can reaching third parties and beyond.
If it's not bad enough having many companies tracking your private information or possibly you personally (it is always best to review Terms of Service, Acceptable Use Policies, and Privacy Policies whenever possible, as well as any disclosures and disclaimers), it is even worse to have your internet service provider sell the information without the ability to opt out. Some ISPs have been nice to provide the ability to opt out; however, many of the most common have free ability to use all the information they want about you per their agreements.
Let me show you a sample of the agreement in AT&T, which is not quoted directly, but just paraphrased from this page : Web browsing, mobile app information, etc. including URLs typed, IP addresses, and data transmission information is all collected by the ISP. Their systems can note what sites you've visited, how long you spent on each specific site, what ads/widgets you've seen, search terms entered, and other app usage information. Of course, location information is directly disclosed to them. In case someone is doing something illegal, or poses a threat—security or non-security, they have the ability to track that person right down to their physical location, and verify their "internet identity."
So... What is your "internet identity?" Well, your ID is your fingerprint; the mark you leave on the internet–which uses your IP address to personally identify you (seen highly in web forum examples or newsgroups). It's not about the moniker you choose to go by online, it's about the IP address, which can be used to track you down to your street location. In the hands of someone evil or evil third parties, can cause major problems for even your personal privacy.
Dichotomies, dilemmas, and other serious debates have occurred recently over this issue, within just the past couple of days. What if, what for, where, why, how, and how much are all the questions involved. Frankly speaking, people are generally angry, because they don't understand. The media's primary focus is on the reasons for the House approving the repeal of internet privacy laws, but does not explain how much of a risk it truly is for consumers.
Here's the major crazy part about this... That bill passed this past October never went into effect yet! Here is a general report for example:
NPR wrote: “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.src ”
Companies of all sorts want your information so they can improve their resources... Opting out of every one of them, if available, is painstakingly long and tiring. It's about time we have the ability to disconnect. It is nice to have tools like The Tor Project, DuckDuckGo, Incognito, etc. so that we can disconnect from tracking monsters, and enjoy the internet the way it's supposed to be. Per the advent of security issues beginning rapidly in 2001, data on the web has been monitored and tracked closely by the government. THIS IS NOTHING NEW FOLKS!
In addition, if you see the triangular "i" on advertisements, you are being actively tracked for personalizing your ads. Best thing to do is to opt out of it, and you can follow GeekPolice's guide on doing that for many advertising companies here .
Some final notes on this odd act of legislation, many people including privacy experts, are hoping that President Donald Trump decides to veto this broadband privacy repeal. Senate Democrats are hoping this reaches him; however, it is not looking very likely to occur–despite Trump's promises to save internet privacy were he to be elected.
Lastly, it helps to tell companies you do not want to be tracked. Don't be afraid to turn on do not track features, install encryption programs, or try to eliminate your digital footprint or limit it as much as possible. Keep in mind that any information that involves recording you in any way: video, audio, text, browsing, etc. can all be subpoenaed at any time in a court of law. That's right: web browsing, text messaging, recording and sending audio online, phone calls, home assistants (including Alexa, Google Home, Siri, etc.), videos you post, webcams, security cameras, data tracking devices (including fitness trackers), email, usage of apps, and so much more are able to be fully tracked, recorded, and made available to the government when necessary to be brought into a court of law. Please be careful what you do, and what you want to be exposed. It is encouraging that you can have help in removing your digital footprint. Please post here in this topic/thread, or in this forum and we would be glad to give you even more tips past this article.