A Virtual Private Network service provider is using a New York Times ad to throw some serious side-eye at Senators supporting bills that will allow telecommunication providers to share or sell customer information without the customer’s consent.
Private Internet Access, a leading VPN Service provider specializing in securing a user’s data while they surf the web, took out a full-page ad in the New York Times that reads, “Hello World. These are the 50 Senators who voted to monitor your internet activity for financial gain.” Boston Herald Deputy Managing Editor for News & Multimedia Zuri Berry tweeted a photo of the ad, which shows the names of the senators who backed recent related bills or that are in favor of such changes. The ad then calls on the public to take action by calling these Senators with requests to reject one of the current bills, H.J. Res 86.
This all comes as a number of Republican Senators have started to introduce similar bills. On March 7th, a day before H.J. Res 86 was introduced, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona introduced another similar bill that would allow internet providers to sell customer information without any consent, which means that telecommunication companies would also be able to sell your browser history and location data.
Last year, the Federal Communication Commission strongly opposed such practices when they wrote into the FCC Rule and Regulations handbook that internet providers will have to confidentially protect customer information. The FCC stated that carriers must “provide privacy notices that clearly and accurately inform customers; obtain opt-in or opt-out customer approval to use and share sensitive or non-sensitive customer proprietary information.”
But in an op-ed to the Wall Street Journal, Sen. Flake argues that the FCC rules are too broad and protect information that doesn’t deserve to be private, which harms businesses. He says the rules are so broad “that information generated from looking up the latest Cardinals score or checking the weather in Scottsdale is treated the same as personal health and financial data.”
Both of the bills lack Democratic support.