Trump Signs Away Internet Privacy Protections with a Congressional Review Act

The apparent war against the Internet continues in the United States under the Trump administration. Yesterday, President Trump put pen to paper and signed the latest set of privacy killing and net neutrality reversing policies into effect. This is a worrying state of affairs, considering how Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai has been acting in his historical vested interests in big Telecom companies.

Under these new rules, the FCC will no longer require that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would have to ask your permission to sell your information to third parties. The ramifications of which could shake the core of any privacy loving person. There are numerous different ways that this information could be used against citizens everyday. Some of the more nefarious ways could be to track productivity of individuals at work, but will more likely be used for different advertising campaigns. This use of data seems a bit more benign, but companies should still obtain informed consent over  the distribution of the information.

Along with denying companies the ability to sell your information, other regulations that were killed also aimed to protect citizens and consumers from increasingly invasive marketing and advertising techniques with the data they collect on you. Usually I am all for target marketing, it is just more efficient frankly, but these measures seem a step too far and in the wrong direction.

The capstone of this is by far its most worrying feature. Not only does this new bill -now law under the stroke of Trump- rollback safeguards for consumers, but it also prevents congress from writing similar rules in the future. Pai and Trump have delivered to big Telecom the greatest gift they could never dreamed have had under previous administrations: security from future regulation.

The message is made even clearer than before then for this FCC chair, he is on the side of big companies, not the side of US citizens and consumers. One particular clause of the law, which did away with a large restriction to the potential Charter-TWC merger. I try to see both sides of most things, but I am left entirely baffled by the actions of Trump’s FCC.

I am not the only one, and a large number of Americans voiced their concerns and opinions about this bill to their congresspeople. Sadly, these concerns fell on seemingly deaf ears. Since then, local and State legislative bodies have signaled that they may do their best to challenge this law as best they can via their own laws and consumer protections.

However, they cannot directly attack these laws, but may work to subvert them in other ways. Many states like Illinois and California are looking to enact laws which EU countries have had for years. So called “Right to Know” laws may not protect your data, but would require that your ISP and any other company collecting data on you -including the ones who benefit most from the recent deregulation- to share what information is being collected on you and with whom. Far from perfect, these would be terribly powerful laws and a good step in the right direction. They may set the tone for Mid-term elections and the phone calls that congressmen and women receive.

Never let anyone tell you that your information and your privacy is not your right and do well to protect that. We here at The Merkle have published many different reviews of VPN services, it may be time to consider one if you have not already.

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