Congress Votes To Let ISPs Sell Your Browsing History

April 10, 2017 3 min read

congress isp sell browsing history



On March 28th, Congressvoted to repeal federal broadband privacy rules that would have blocked telecom giants such as Comcast and Verizon from collecting and selling their customers’ web browsing history without their knowledge.

The upcoming rules would have required internet service providers (ISPs) to obtain an “opt-in” from their customers before they could share or sell their personal data, but now they can continue do it without the customer's permission.

President Trump then signed the resolution on 4/3/17, making it a law.


What’s an ISP and Can They See Everything About Me?


isp internet service provider


An ISP is an internet service provider, and it is a company that sells the internet connection or access to your home or smartphone.  They are some of the largest corporations in the US and include: Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, Time Warner, Comcast, Cox, etc.

These companies can’t see everything about us, but they do have access to an impressive amount of our personal data.  Think about how much data your smartphone records and transmits about you on a daily basis.  They know where you go, what you buy, and which websites you browse.  They know who you talk to, for how long, and what is said.  


How Did It Happen?


Congress is going over nearly all of the late-term federal regulations passed by the Obama administration using something called theCongressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to repeal federal regulations with a simple majority vote.  (The CRA is worth noting because we’re going to see it used a lot in the coming months.)  

The opponents argue that these privacy laws create an unfair set of privacy regulations, one for ISPs, and another for what are called “edge providers” - or internet-based companies that provide services on an ISP network (such as Facebook or Instagram).

So they took a vote on 3/28 and the majority voted to repeal it.  


What Does This Mean For Us?


isp privacy congress fcc internet service provider


It’s part of the slippery slope of the loss of our online privacy vs our "security" and we’re slip-sliding away.  Everything we do and say is being recorded by devices we paid for with our own hard-earned money.  There are CCTV cameras almost everywhere we go.  License plate readers on highways are tracking our movements.

Our lawmakers have decided that invasive data collection and extremely targeted ads, that follow us everywhere we go, should be the norm.

You’re going to have to make an effort to keep your private data, well, private.


How Do I Make This Effort?


Well, at this very moment there are only a handful of options, and neither are perfect.

Our first suggestion is to use a VPN or virtual private network.  This is a service that lets you run your internet connection through another company’s server.  For a nominal monthly fee, you’ll be able to effectively hide all of your online activity.

It does come with a pitfall, aside from the fee, and that’s the speed may be significantly slower.




Your next choice is theTor browser, which is designed to keep the traffic of its users anonymous, and much like the VPN, you’ll need to pay for a good service or it will be decidedly slow.



Josh Bare
Josh Bare

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