Congress has moved to dismantle some Obama-era rules that would have protected the online privacy of everyday Americans. This sucks. The deregulation means it will be easier for huge telecom companies to track and sell their customers’ browsing history. This sucks! But not all is lost.
Regardless of what the Capitol Hill-based wrecking ball does to the FCC’s online privacy rules, there are still steps you can take to protect yourself on the internet. The new era of anti-privacy policies in Washington does mean that companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast can collect data about your everyday internet usage.
“Your ISP can sell your traffic without any permission, and it’s unclear if they would even have to tell you they were doing it,” Jeremy Gillula, a senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), told Gizmodo.
The White House has already said it “strongly supports” the repeal of the Obama-era rules. Trump is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming days.
Without the FCC’s privacy rules, it’s not just information about web pages you visit that service providers can collect. Your ISP can now track your activity any time your computer accesses the internet. If you check the weather on your phone, your ISP could know that you’re worried about the rain and serve up ads about umbrellas. More realistically, they could sell the data about your daily habits to a marketing firm so that they could serve you more relevant ads.
However, you can still go dark, if you don’t want big telecom peering into your private life. There’s a chance that your ISP will let you opt-out of certain types of data collection, although it’s unclear if they’re specifically required to do this in the absence of the privacy rules. The FTC does recommend that service providers off an opt-in option, although ISPs could just decide to ignore that recommendation. Your situation will inevitably…