Posted by Jack
Your calls for action have been heard and the GOP leads the way, proving they can get stuff done when it’s really, really important to the people.
The US House of Representatives has just approved a “congressional disapproval” vote of privacy rules, which gives your ISP the right to sell your internet history.The measure passed by 215 votes to 205. This follows the same vote in the Senate last week. Just prior to the vote, a White House spokesman said the president supported the bill, meaning that the decision will soon become law.
Yes, all of you that have been demanding legislation to allow your internet service provider to sell your private browsing history to the highest bidder has been passed! Who says our democracy isn’t responsive to the will of the people? I admit, it came at some cost, they had to set aside a few other priorities, such as fixing Obamacare which has been on the back burner for the last 8 years, but you got your internet legislation!
This approval means that whoever you pay to provide you with internet access – Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, etc – will be able to sell everything they know about your use of the internet to third parties without requiring your approval and without even informing you.
Your ISP already knows quite a lot about you: your name and address, quite possibly your age, and a host of other personally identifiable information such as your social security number. That’s on the customer information side. On the service side, they know which websites you visit, when, and how often.
That information can be used to build a very detailed picture of who you are: what your political and sexual leanings are; whether you have kids; when you are at home; whether you have any medical conditions; and so on – a thousand different data points that, if they have sufficient value to companies willing to pay for them, will soon be traded without your knowledge.
As one high-profile venture capitalist recently discovered, your previous search history can also impact what result you see in future. Although in his case, he probably wishes he hadn’t publicly criticized Apple on Twitter for giving him the details of a porn actress at the top of his search results.
The precise user profiles that can be built using this data are worth their weight in gold to advertisers, and explains why Google and Facebook are two of the world’s largest companies despite only being a search facility and an online noticeboard.
In fact, thanks to a quirk that resulted from efforts to make such selling of personal information illegal, we know how much that information is worth to your ISP: $30 per household per month. That jumps to $60 per month if you get internet access through your cable provider – which most Americans do – because it also enables the company to monitor your TV usage and connect the two.
With over 100 million households online in the United States, that means Congress has just given Big Cable an annual payday of between $35bn and $70bn.