This is an open letter to the politicians who decided it would be better if our browsing history wasn’t private.
As we all know on March 28th House Republicans outvoted the Democrats to repeal the “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunication Services” law. President Trump signed off on the bill on April 3rd.
I’ve heard and read people say that they’ve nothing to hide so why does it matter?
It matters because it’s not just us but our kids, too. If you have kids with phones or tablets, kids that get on the web and surf around — well what they do online is now up for sale. Comcast or your ISP of choice or cell phone provider can take that usage and sell it to Walmart or Target or whoever else they want.
It’s not just our browser history that we need to worry about either. Before the FCC’s privacy laws went into effect, various ISPs were actually hijacking their customer’s searches.
Imagine if you will:
- You search for “brownies” in Google
- Comcast intercepts your search and sends it to their partner before sending it to Google
- The partner has a deal with Duncan Hines so the partner tells Comcast to send you to duncanhines.com
- Comcast sends you duncanhines.com without you ever seeing Google’s search results page
ISPs were actually doing this in the past before the privacy laws took hold. Your online, personal data is no longer safe from prying eyes and people with money. We’ll now be profiled and sold and so will our kids and so will their searches.
Imagine again if you will:
- You’re walking around in public with your cell phone
- Verizon knows where you are based on the cell towers
- Verizon analyzes where you went and sells all your travel/shopping patterns
- Verizon does this every moment your phone is turned on
That’s real life but it’s no different if you swap out “walking around” with “surfing the web” or “snapchatting” or “facebooking.”
When Maggie asked me why the House voted to repeal the law, I told her that our laws often aren’t really about protecting or helping us, especially in this case. This law repeal is about helping corporations. It doesn’t serve us, the people of the United States, at all.
From the way I read S.J.Res. 34 though, we’ll have the option to opt-out instead of the more strict opt-in as before. I hope that’s the case. I couldn’t find any settings in my Comcast account on their website and I imagine it would be the last thing they’d add if they did.
Regardless, I set up PureVPN for Maggie and I to use. All our internet traffic is tunneled through it so Comcast and T-Mobile will only know we’re connecting to a VPN. Where we go from there and what we do will be off limits. PureVPN also doesn’t log our data.
And for the people who voted for Trump, Maggie and I thank you.