Facts about Congress’ decision to expose your data to internet providers

In March 2017 both houses of Congress passed a joint resolution that reversed the Broadband Privacy Rule. This was done on the premise that the Federal Trade Commission already handles privacy Internet Service Providersprotection matters, and has for years. The FTC is legally barred from regulating ISPs! The FCC’s move in 2015 actually made room for the FTC to step in when problems were happening on the business side of the ISP — such as, price fixing at a national level. However a recent court decision put ISPs solely in the jurisdiction of the FCC. Currently, both the FCC and the FTC are now barred from making privacy rules for ISPs.

Basically, there is no one patrolling ISP’s behavior. Ultimately consumers lose and our data is exposed to internet providers. The current ruling by the FCC makes some significant changes to the ways internet providers can collect and sell the data they collect on consumers. The time was approaching when the internet security rules would go into effect. This bill was hurriedly passed to avoid those consumer protection rules from going into effect. Without those rules consumer information would to exposed to your data to internet providers.

What exactly would consumers have gained from net neutrality?    

Internet connectorsUnder the proposed rules the Internet service providers (ISP) were to follow the following rules.

  •  ISPs are required to be transparent about what data they collect, how they use it, and whom they intend to share it with.
  • ISPs must get advance permission from consumers (i.e. users must opt in) before using “customer proprietary information.” That’s a category defined by the FCC and encompasses what you would normally expect to be protected — medical data, social security number — and adds information that is not inherently personal but the large scale tracking of which most people would disapprove of: web browsing history and application usage history. (This is the part that’s gotten the most coverage.)
  • ISPs must take “reasonable measures” in security terms to protect that information, and in the event of a major breach (more than 5,000 accounts affected) must inform various parties, and the affected consumers, within a week.
  • No providing price breaks for lower privacy measures — for instance, lowering monthly charges if a consumer agrees to be tracked.
  • Notice was given (but no actual rule yet proposed) that the practice of forced arbitration, which limits the legal means consumers have for redress to companies internal processes, was soon to be reviewed as well.

In the final analysis consumers lose the protections they expected. Citizens are now at the mercy of Internet Service Providers and giving them free reign over the data they collect on us. In effect, it will erase all the protections outlined above and leave consumers vulnerable to Internet Service Providers to invade their privacy and sell their data to advertisers.

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