In case you weren’t paying attention, yesterday was a step backward for your personal privacy. On Tuesday, House Republicans voted to repeal President Obama’s internet privacy protections, which were approved in the final days of his presidency by the Federal Communications Commission.
How will this affect you? For most, this repeal means that your ISP (or Internet Service Provider) can auction off your internet history quite literally to the highest bidder. In most cases, this will likely be to advertising firms. And no – they don’t need your permission to do so.
ISPs can also get a hefty payment for information about you, such as geolocations, app usage, and your internet history.
This means that advertisers will now know the when, where, what, why, and hows of what you look at.
The privacy protections that were repealed would have meant that your ISP would have to seek out and gain your permission before they were allowed to sell any of your data. That would have meant that they likely wouldn’t have been allowed to sell any information, as most people don’t like the idea of privately owned companies and advertisers knowing very personal information about them.
The extra edge of privacy would have been nice, given that we live in a time where everything from your phone to your computer, and even your AC, fridge, car and home, can be connected to the internet.
One Representative, Michael Burgess (R-TX) explained that the repeal took place because it was “duplicative regulation” and that he felt the repeal would “level the playing field for an increasingly competitive market.”
The idea came from the fact that ISPs were under strict rules about gathering data, while companies like Facebook and Google collect data on their users without permission very frequently. However, rather than coming up with similar rules for web companies, the vote was to get rid of rules and regulations regarding those matters entirely.
One opponent of the repeal, Anna Eschoo (D-CA) was quoted as saying, “It totally wipes out privacy protections… I don’t want anyone to take my information and sell it to [make money].”
Of course, ISPs selling customer data isn’t anything new. It’s just that in the past, consumers have been able to opt out. That may no longer be the case.
The repeal of the privacy protections has left many feeling that big businesses will always benefit more than the average person.