How much is your privacy worth to you?
It’s worth a lot to telecommunications companies that provide you access to the internet.
On Monday, President Donald Trump signed into law S.J. Res. 34, repealing internet privacy rules the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed last year. Those rules would have required internet service providers (ISP) to obtain permission from customers to use their browsing history, geolocation, financial, and medical information to create targeted advertisements.
Now companies like Cox, Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, and Verizon have legal authority to mine people’s internet traffic without their permission for the purpose of selling data and advertising. Consumers will also now have to pay a privacy tax by relying on virtual private networks (VPN) to protect their information.
1. Inject undetectable, undeletable tracking cookies into all browser traffic.
This basically allows third-party advertisers and websites to compile a detailed permanent profile based on visitors’ web browsing habits.
2. Pre-install software on our phones and record every URL we visit.
This is software that logs apps people use, the websites they visit, and sends back data to the ISP.
Carrier IQ is an application that used to come pre-installed on AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile phones. According to the EFF:
“Preinstalled software like Carrier IQ gives your ISP a window into everything you do on your phone. While mobile ISPs may have backed down on using Carrier IQ in the past (and the situation led to a class action lawsuit), you can bet that if the FCC’s privacy rules are rolled back there’ll be ISPs be eager to start something similar.”
3. Monitor internet traffic and insert ads.
This permits ISPs to record what customers are browsing, and inject ads into their traffic based on browsing history.
4. Hijack searches.
In 2011, several ISPs were caught working with a company called Paxfire to hijack customers’ search queries in Bing, Yahoo!, and Google. When people entered search terms into their browsers’ search boxes or URL bars, their ISPs sent their queries to Paxfire instead of actual search engines. Paxfire then matched queries to a list of companies that paid for more traffic. If a query matched one of those brands, Paxfire would send the internet user to that company’s website instead of a search engine to produce search results. The company would then pay Paxfire; Paxfire would pay the ISP.
5. Sell your data to marketers.
“…Ingests regularly updated data representing as many as 300 cellphone events per day for each of the 20 million to 25 million mobile subscribers…The service also combines data from telcos with other information, telling businesses whether shoppers are checking out competitor prices… It can tell them the age ranges and genders of people who visited a store location between 10 a.m. and noon, and link location and demographic data with shoppers’ web browsing history.”
In other words, broadband providers are selling data about our locations, demographics, and browsing history.
The Verge published a list of 265 members of Congress who voted for the bill along with how much money each received from the telecom lobby.
You might be interested in discovering whether or not your elected representative agreed to basically sell your online privacy rights for a campaign contribution.
Featured Image: Screenshot Via YouTube Video.