Update: President Trump Signs Internet Privacy Repeal
On Monday, U.S President Donald Trump delivers the final nail in the coffin by signing the bill to repeal broadband privacy rules. The Senate and House of Representatives initially pushed for the cancellation of rules protecting consumer privacy.
After the vote by Congress, the bill was sent to POTUS for final approval. The executive order now allows ISPs the freedom to share and sell consumer’s personal information to the highest bidder. This has serious implications on user’s privacy. Continue reading to learn about how to stop ISPs tracking your web activities.
Congress Votes 215-205 to Revoke ISP Bill
Just a week ago, the Senate voted to overturn the FCC introduced broadband privacy rules. Joining the bandwagon, the House of Representatives passed the resolution (H. Res 230) with a vote of 215 – 205 to free ISPs from these privacy protection laws. All that is required is President Trump’s signature and Internet providers will be free to collect, share, and even sell your internet history.
Under the FCC broadband privacy rules, ISPs could not sell user’s personal information without consent. These regulations were introduced only last October 2016, under the Obama administration. However, with these rules overturned, Internet providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon will have the freedom to use user’s online data as they wish.
It is a new era of Republican Dominance and in a few days, it could decide how Internet access will work throughout the country. With sensitive information such as your browsing habits,internet history and downloads, app usage, social security numbers, location data, emails, and much more up for grabs, advertisers and third parties will be hungry to get their hands on your personal data.
Potential Privacy Threats to Users
The ramifications of removing consumer protection could be immense. For people who think Internet providers are like Facebook and Google,then we would advise you to think again. Google can only know the stuff you click on or the terms you search. However, ISP’s go beyond that. They have access to more personal information about users than you can imagine.
I believe that user data belongs to the consumer, not the provider, and should not be sold for profit by ISPs or telecoms. #broadbandprivacy
— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) March 28, 2017
Therefore, if the broadband protection rules are repealed, here are some implications on your privacy:
- Access to your emails can reveal private and confidential conversations
- Browsing history and download activities can reveal your internet habits
- Advertisers, network carriers, and other third parties can access your financial information, personal email, social security number, etc.
- Your personal pictures, messages, tweets, and other posts on social media will be available to the highest bidder
- Marketers, network providers, and advertisers can use your mobile usage and apps data to target more ads
- Location information will help governments, ISPs, and other agencies to keep track of your whereabouts
How to Protect Your Privacy from Internet Privacy Repeal
There is not much you can do to stop ISPs from selling your data. However, you can take certain preventive measures to secure your privacy. Among various tools available for stopping ISPs from tracking your web browsing, here are two ways to protect your data.
1. Only Visit Websites with HTTPS Extensions
Browsing websites in incognito (private) mode is not enough to safeguard your privacy, as ISPs can still monitor and record the websites you visit. Therefore, you should only browse websites with HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) extension. HTTPS secures your connection by encrypting the contents and making it unreadable to third parties.
2. Use a VPN to Encrypt Your Internet Traffic
The second option to secure your privacy against this anti-broadband bill is by using a VPN service. A VPN or virtual private network, acts as an intermediary between you and the internet. All your internet traffic is routed through VPN servers, and are tunneled and encrypted during the process. This way you become anonymous and third party organizations cannot read your internet activities. However, before you select a VPN, make sure they are not based in USA.
Here are some VPN providers that offer leading edge protocols, expansive server spreads,and AES 256 bit encryption algorithm to secure your private data.
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To wrap things up, the repealing of FCC’s broadband privacy regulations is a drawback for users in every sense. Their privacy is violated from viewpoint and it’s the Internet providers and advertisers that will benefit from this deal.So far, the proposed legislation is on President Trump’s table, awaiting his approval. If the bill passes, telecom companies can freely collect, share and sell your personal information.