Recently Congress voted to change the way companies can utilize user data. More importantly they removed restrictions on what kinds of information a company can collect and sell with regard to its customer’s information. Some shrugged off these changes with a ‘business as usual’ sort of apathy, but now as the facts become more clear it appears these changes go a lot deeper than they may have expected.
A recent motherboard report exposed the details of the new legislation and privacy watchdog groups are far from happy. Financial and medical information is at risk, Social Security numbers which were once considered completely private, web browsing history information, mobile app usage, and even the content of your emails or online chats may all be included under the broad umbrella of what House Republicans decided to let ISPs sell.
The house action was quickly pushed through Congress by a 215-205 majority vote on largely partisan grounds. The Senate passed its own version during the previous week and President Trump has already said he strongly supports the FCC privacy rollback.
The big winners of course are the corporate giants including Comcast, AT&T and Verizon whose billions of dollars from internet, cable, and mobile subscriptions may soon become secondary income streams when compared to the new data mining treasure trove they are now authorized to monetize.
“What the heck are you thinking?” said Rep. Michael Capuano, the Massachusetts Democrat, during floor debates earlier Tuesday. “What is in your mind? Why would you want to give out any of your personal information to a faceless corporation for the sole purpose of them selling it?”
It’s a fair question, and one that may go largely unanswered publicly, unless those same ISPs start selling the previously private chat logs and email histories of legislators who discussed passing these bills in the first place a few months ago when those communications were properly protected.