ISPs, Like Comcast, Pass A Bill to Sell Your Digital Privacy

ISPs, Like Comcast, Pass A Bill to Sell Your Digital Privacy

The same companies that brought you the internet (ISPs) now want to sell your information and squander any remaining digital privacy you have.

Today, Congress passed a bill to repeal the FCC’s 2016 broadband privacy rules giving consumers the power to choose how their ISPs (Internet Service Providers) use and share their personal data – financial and health information, Social Security numbers, web browsing, and application usage history.

Now, ISPs like Comcast, AT&T, and Charter are free to sell your personal information to the highest bidder without your permission. Also, the bill ensures that the FCC cannot adopt “substantially similar” rules. Everyone expects the president to sign this bill, eliminating the nation’s strongest privacy protections and ensuring they cannot be revived.

Hasta La Vista, Digital Privacy

I can imagine ISPs feel like a child forced to watch others eat cake on their birthday…and not getting a slice themselves.

Google and Facebook have been raking in so much ad revenue through their data analytics, they don’t even know how to spend it (hence, why Google now has an initiative aimed at ending mortality). Meanwhile, Comcast, AT&T, and Charter are confined to bundling home, phone, and the internet to make a few bucks here and there.

So, I can understand why they lobbied for this repeal.

On the other hand, it just doesn’t seem right. If you don’t like Google invading your digital privacy, then you can just switch search engines. No big deal. If you don’t like your ISP invading your digital privacy, you can’t switch so easily.

Switching your internet service provider is like changing your last name – it’s time-consuming and frowned upon. Often times, you are hit with a big fee and have to wait weeks for a worker to “squeeze you into their schedule” and hook up your internet.

Clearly, ISPs have the upper hand on us and they are gladly going to take advantage of it.

Background Checks Just Got Personal

The companies I see benefitting from buying this data are employers and insurance companies for one reason: to judge you.

Employers in the process of hiring could inspect an applicant’s daily, online routine. What sites do they visit from 9-5? Do they watch a lot of Netflix? Are they productive? Your normal, online activity is a great indicator of what type of person you are.

Insurance companies could add this data to the process of assessing life insurance policies. Is this person base-jumping on a daily basis, like in Along Came Polly? Are they frequently booking exotic trips on Airbnb? Feeling cheated by outrageous deductibles would be a thing of the past. Insurers could point out that you are attached to your computer screen all day (usage history) and are frequently sick (always on WebMD).

Yo ISPs, Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You

This reminds me of a situation that is taking place now in the world of basketball. Last year, three brothers, known as the Ball Brothers, became a sports phenomenon, after all starting on the same high school team and blowing teams out of the water with their flashy style…seriously, one of them scored 92 points in a single game.

Their father is capitalizing on all the attention. He’s been on ESPN telling the world how he wants a billion dollar deal for all three, his oldest son is better than Stephen Curry, and that he himself can beat Michael Jordan one-on-one.

Two of them haven’t even proved they can compete at the college level yet. But, this hasn’t stopped the greed of their father. In his own words, “We gonna get a billion dollars. UCLA’s exploiting my son. Why not me?”

Honestly, I think Comcast, AT&T, and Charter are all affected by this greed and sense of entitlement. They raised us all and don’t want to continue watching someone else profit off of us.

Now, they are beginning to nip at our hands. We (the people) feed these ISPs with money. Now they are turning around and selling us out?! If that’s not biting the hand that feeds you, then I don’t know what is.

Celebrate Your Supporters

Never take for granted, the support you get from others. Surrounding yourself with people that believe in you is step 1, but step 0 is cherishing your supporters. Showing your appreciation towards them is how the relationship becomes a two-way street.

There’s no right or wrong way to show your appreciation. The only stipulation is that it must come from a genuine place.

Take the time to celebrate those that stick with you.

For those of you that are reading Quick Theories for the first time, thanks for taking the time to learn and I hope you enjoyed this article. For those of you that are regular Quick Theories readers, you rock! Seriously, you motivate me to continue getting better (and I promise there are big things coming).

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  1. Wow. How do we stop this? Where do I petition? Also, what information is visible? Does private browsing protect me or is my IP tracked?

    1. Private browsing does not protect you. The only thing Private browsing does is not save cookies or history on your personal computer. This only protects you from your SO seeing what sites you went to in your browser history and/or the targeted ads you see in your email, banners, etc.

      To stop this, contact your representative as this is not law, despite what this article says. The Senate has passed a bill, it still needs to be ratified by the House and then signed into law by the President.

      “Now, ISPs like Comcast, AT&T, and Charter are free to sell your personal information to the highest bidder without your permission.” <- this is a false statement as this bill has not been made law (as of yet).

  2. I’m from the UK but still view this as a terribly development for democracy. I’d be interested in hearing if you have any tips for how to protect your privacy online. I heard getting a VPN is a good way to protect your data – does this still hold true and how does one go about it?

      1. I trust most paid VPNs. I went with ExpressVPN because they host their own Tor servers and I can pay with Bitcoin. If you’re going to use a VPN, it’s important to pick one that actually values user privacy.

  3. Is it true that this was previously the case, and the Obama Admin only recently changed the law, and the current Admin is just changing it back? That is what I hear, but alternative facts abound.

    1. Well, the ISPs were always hesitant to try this because they were afraid of regulation that would be introduced as a result.

      Now this regulation has been explicitly shot down, and the regulatory agency responsible prevented from enacting similar rules in the future, it’s a green light for the ISPs to move forward.

      So while you’re technically correct, this is effectively lawmakers authorising this behaviour.

  4. Hello. Can you start an action to petition against this like other comments suggest. It’s great that you write this article pointing out problems but can you take it one step further by pointing out solutions. Start an Avaaz petition for instance and put the link onto your articles… Just a thought.

  5. It does that matter what kind of petitions you sign or lengths you go to, to try to hinder this movement.
    This is the dawn of a new Era.


    In case you forget the government is spying on everyone and they pick and choose who to give this info to.
    these companies have been sell this info for years, which explains why you get a constant barrage of telemarketers calling you at odd times of the day.

  6. Agreed: We can’t stop this ball from rolling because it’s big business.
    Agreed: Petitions make angry people angrier and adds to data being sold to the highest bidder.
    Query: Is it possible to stop buying, searching, or watching online?
    Conclusion: Other than living off the grid, or paying with cash, or constantly changing my phone number and my email address to buy, search, and watch, my next best option is to start gathering data on data gatherers and do what qu suggests. If you can find it, support loyalty.

  7. Actually, the Telecommunications Act explicitly prohibits the release of personally identifiable information. S.J.Res 34 does not change this. It is bad in a whole host of different ways, let’s not discredit our side by inventing reasons…

  8. Relax, the scenario described by OP in the article is fiction to me. I don’t see how an employer can get meaningful data about you out of your browsing history. How would he know the data has been generated by yourself and not by any other person under your roof ? I personally have 6 devices at home connected daily to the Internet. Probably like most people. They can’t know which one it is that I use. Plus I use my wife’s device sometimes. Plus when people come over, first thing they will ask is “what’s your wifi password”, then they will connect too.

    Moreover, what would the employer find ? ok, he browses porn sometimes, spend some time on social media, spend some time to read news, watch stuff on youtube, he is not productive when he’s at home after work hours. Well, he’s like the 99% of profiles we have checked.

    About often browsing WebMD. You cannot just conclude that means you are very sick. I often read reports and stuff about cancer, because I like to learn about this, and learn what to do to avoid having cancer. It’s not because I already have cancer. I’m fine, thanks.

    Having all your data in hands is one thing, making sense of all this data is an entirely different and more complicated thing.

    This said, best thing you can probably do is pay for a VPN. Just convince yourself that the $100/year it costs is part of the Internet package. What is the employer going to do with your encrypted data he bought from your ISP ?

  9. I think I appreciate it…..
    All the things or people are not your selves, so if something is your personal or privacy, keep it on your own… if you share it with someone else or something else, it will never said to be yours only…
    I hope, this law make our thoughts and stuff bonafides, goodwill and likewise to be shared risklessly….

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