Anything you do on the internet can, will be used against you

Your internet service provider (ISP) is watching you. 

Perhaps not actively, but passively. It’s the nature of the industry. Think of it in terms of being at the grocery store, with the ISP being your cashier. They know what you buy, they know how much you buy, when you buy it and what brand you prefer. 

Now, what if they followed you for 24 hours a day? What if your cashier knew every single thing about you and there was little to nothing you could do about it? What if they could go and sell that information to anyone, at any time, without telling you?

The House of Representatives gave them that ability Tuesday, when the Federal Communications Commission regulation relating to “protecting the privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services” was repealed. 

The vote was starkly divided along party lines, with 215 Republicans voting to repeal the regulation and 190 Democrats, along with 15 Republicans, voting against the repeal. Six Republicans and three Democrats did not vote.

I’m not a Democrat, I have said it before and I will say it until I die, nor will I become a Democrat. But just what, exactly, do modern Republicans gain from allowing unbridled buying and selling of consumer information and, whenever possible, relieving corporations from responsibility to their consumers? 

According to the resolution, the regulations required ISP providers to “take reasonable steps to safeguard customer information from unauthorized use or disclosure,” as well as ensuring customers would be alerted if there was a breach of that information, no later than 10 days after it happened. 

Sounds like a given, right? If you have my credit card numbers, if you know where I am any time I have my phone, try to make sure the ‘bad guys’ can’t get that information. If the ‘bad guys’ get it, can you tell me about it relatively quickly? 

Now, the regulation did not prohibit ISPs from sharing or selling your information, but it did require the ISP to get your permission to do it and allow you to opt out of some instances.

The point is that it was a step toward consumer protection and corporate responsibility when it comes to our very personal lives. It allowed you to have at least a small amount of autonomy over the for-profit use of your personal and relatively private information.

The same company that charges you $50 if you go a single megabyte over your 5GB data plan, or charges you upwards of $80 a month for an internet connection that people in some other countries wouldn’t spend $10 on, can now unabashedly use you as another source of revenue, with little to no oversight or accountability.  

The term ‘cash-cow’ comes to mind. 

 

Garrett Ammesmaki is a news editor at The Collegian and can be reached at [email protected]