Consumer privacy rights have taken yet another blow thanks to a new US Senate proposal getting approved. Just yesterday, the Senate voted on a proposal that effectively eliminates all privacy rules. Internet service providers are now eligible to sell all customer data to a third party, among other things.
The End of Online Privacy As We Know It
It is not the first, nor the last time the US senate has delivered a big blow to consumer privacy. As a result of their latest proposal vote, ISPs no longer need to get consumer consent before selling user’s browsing history and app usage history. This information can be sold to any third party in the world, although most of the “sales” will occur between the ISP and advertising companies.
Although the US Senate voted in favor of this proposal, it will still have to pass through the House of Representatives. Assuming they approve this proposal as well, it will nullify the latest privacy rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission altogether. A lot can change over the course of 18 months, that much is once again evident. These changes will not be well received by privacy advocates and internet users, though.
One thing to keep in mind is how this rule change will not go into effect until December 4th of this year. That being said, it is the only silver lining in this entire debacle. ISPs may soon be legally entitled to all of our data and they can reap the financial rewards from selling it to the highest bidder. This will only lead to even more annoying advertisements, which does not benefit anyone but advertising companies.
If that isn’t dire enough, this privacy rule change proposal invokes the Congressional Review Act. This means similar regulations cannot be issued in the future. This is even better news for internet service providers, as that means the Federal Communications Commission cannot reinstate the current rules. All they can do is draft new proposals, yet they cannot resemble the way things are handled right now.
It appears there is no stopping this proposal from getting approved by the House, though. The only people who can do so are the House and President Donald Trump. Rest assured the latter one has more important issues on his plate than dealing with consumer privacy right now. Moreover, it could be in both entities’ best interests to be able to to map households’ online browsing and shopping tendencies. Making America great again means bringing a much-needed boost to the economy, and selling consumer’s information can help achieve that goal.
In the end, this proposal allows any internet service provider in the United States to issue their own set of rules. There will be no “opting in” for consumers, as everyone will be monitored around the clock. It is uncertain what the future will hold, but rest assured the data harvesting will begin sooner or later. Once that trend starts, there will be no turning back whatsoever.
Usage of anonymity tools like TOR and VPNs may also see a rise as a direct result of this decision. It is important to keep one’s privacy when surfing online as I am sure nobody would want their browsing history sold for a profit.
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