Do you want your internet provider to spy on your without your knowledge? Presumably not. And yet, that’s exactly what the Senate set the stage for today, while the House struggles with health care, in a step that might have far reaching ramifications for privacy online.
The Senate’s vote was to reverse a set of rules passed late in the Obama administration that required your internet provider to obtain your consent before selling data about you to third parties. The rules also required ISPs to inform you who they sold the data to, what they collected, and how that data might be used.
Republicans, including FCC head Ajit Pai, argue that the rules are unfair as they impose different expectations on companies like Comcast as opposed to social media like Facebook. That said, however, there don’t seem to be any rules forthcoming from the FCC or other government bodies, and this law would prevent the FCC from mandating similar transparency rules. It also raises a few eyebrows not least because there’s concern over governments buying this data in bulk as part of larger data collection operations, and privacy advocates have raised concerns. The House will still need to pass the rules, but, for now, if you’re concerned about your data being collected, might we recommend a virtual private network?