Your Congress at Work

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.

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16 Responses to Your Congress at Work

  1. Joe says:

    Don’t worry, Captain Jack.

    With the Demorats’ plans to increase our taxes yet again here in Comiefornia, we will have no money to afford Internet access.

    And don’t be mad at the politicians. It’s there job to steal as much money from us as possible, steal as much of our privacy as possible, and to run up as much debt as possible in order to increase their power and enrich themselves and their cronies.

    Now why would you be mad at someone for just doing their job?

  2. Joe says:

    And another thing, Mr. Jack.

    How did Doug LaMalfa vote on this?

  3. Tina says:

    Jack I suspect that this resolution has more to it than meets the eye.

    Summary: S.J.Res.34 — 115th Congress (2017-2018):

    This joint resolution nullifies the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission entitled “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services.” The rule published on December 2, 2016: (1) applies the customer privacy requirements of the Communications Act of 1934 to broadband Internet access service and other telecommunications services, (2) requires telecommunications carriers to inform customers about rights to opt in or opt out of the use or the sharing of their confidential information, (3) adopts data security and breach notification requirements, (4) prohibits broadband service offerings that are contingent on surrendering privacy rights, and (5) requires disclosures and affirmative consent when a broadband provider offers customers financial incentives in exchange for the provider’s right to use a customer’s confidential information.

    The joint resolution was sponsored by a large number of Republicans, many of whom I greatly respect.

    The news generated a lot of sensational headlines in the NYT, Mother Jones, and others with a decided anti-republican bent.

    SC Magazine, a Cyber Security mag reports:

    In a conference call yesterday, a panel representing telecom and broadband service providers threw its support behind a joint Congressional resolution to roll back Federal Communications Commission rules that were designed to protect consumer data collected by telecom and ISP companies. …

    …The panelists argued that the FCC’s rules, which were passed last December, were hastily written and created an unfair playing field because they held telecom and ISP companies to more stringent privacy standards than those imposed on Internet companies like Google, which answer to the Federal Trade Commission. Furthermore, they contended that the FTC and not the FCC should continue to be the lead agency overseeing and enforcing the telecom industry’s handling of consumer data, in order to create a single set of consumer privacy expectations across multiple industries.

    The FCC didn’t embrace a technology-neutral framework for privacy. It instead set out an over-broad definition of sensitive data that doesn’t apply to non-ISPs [that collect] as much or more personal data online. And as we all know, privacy shouldn’t be about who collects information; it should be about what information is collected and how it i used,” said John Leibowitz, former FTC chairman, and co-chair of the 21st Century Privacy Coalition, who also argued that the FCC’s data breach notification requirements were overreaching. …

    …”We really view today’s vote as an opportunity to reset policy and to get us back on track to provide a consistent framework that will minimize the confusion consumers will otherwise have when different parties are collecting data online, and to advance principles of fair competition that we all want to live under,” said fellow panelist James Assey, executive vice president at NCTA – the Internet & Television Association.

    Panelists also attempted to assure the public that the consumer experience would not change if the resolution is signed into law by President Donald Trump, because the FCC rules hadn’t even taken effect yet. They also insisted that industry self-regulation, FTC oversight and state privacy laws already provide ample protection for consumers.

    I looked into this today because my older son had read an article and was really angered by what he had read. It looks to me like this resolution was past to clean up onerous regulations slapped together at the end of the Obama term (we can only guess why) to give some companies (Google?) an advantage over others. This article, written in April 2016 highlights the close relationship between Obama and Google:

    When President Obama announced his support last week for a Federal Communications Commission plan to open the market for cable set-top boxes — a big win for consumers, but also for Google — the cable and telecommunications giants who used to have a near-stranglehold on tech policy were furious. AT&T chief lobbyist Jim Cicconi lashed out at what he called White House intervention on behalf of “the Google proposal.”

    He’s hardly the first to suggest that the Obama administration has become too close to the Silicon Valley juggernaut.

    Over the past seven years, Google has created a remarkable partnership with the Obama White House, providing expertise, services, advice, and personnel for vital government projects.

    Precisely how much influence this buys Google isn’t always clear. But consider that over in the European Union, Google is now facing two major antitrust charges for abusing its dominance in mobile operating systems and search. By contrast, in the U.S., a strong case to sanction Google was quashed by a presidentially appointed commission.

    It’s a relationship that bears watching. “Americans know surprisingly little about what Google wants and gets from our government,” said Anne Weismann, executive director of Campaign for Accountability, a nonprofit watchdog organization. Seeking to change that, Weismann’s group is spearheading a data transparency project about Google’s interactions in Washington.

    The Intercept teamed up with Campaign for Accountability to present two revealing data sets from that forthcoming project: one on the number of White House meetings attended by Google representatives, and the second on the revolving door between Google and the government.

    As the interactive charts accompanying this article show, Google representatives attended White House meetings more than once a week, on average, from the beginning of Obama’s presidency through October 2015. Nearly 250 people have shuttled from government service to Google employment or vice versa over the course of his administration.

    No other public company approaches this degree of intimacy with government. According to an analysis of White House data, the Google lobbyist with the most White House visits, Johanna Shelton, visited 128 times, far more often than lead representatives of the other top-lobbying companies — and more than twice as often, for instance, as Microsoft’s Fred Humphries or Comcast’s David Cohen.

    I’ve always said regulations should be few and they should be concise and clear so they apply to all equally and are understood and easy to observe. Obama’s last minute rules didn’t follow any of those guidelines.

    • Post Scripts says:

      Well, once again, our feckless media can’t be trusted to give us the straight scope. This story has been all over the TV, radio and news papers and now thanks to you we have this alternative story that seems to make more sense. I’m going to look into it too, but something tells me there is still more to it. Why would Congress even be looking at this bill? We’ve got so many more priorities ahead of it…there’s something not kosher here. Hmmmm…I think I will follow the money. Couldn’t hurt. Will be reporting back. Thanks for the new information Tina, very much appreciated.

  4. Tina says:

    after listing the many favors provided to google for their support, a Breitbart article, “Google Reaps Harvest of Obama Support” concludes:

    Google has not only escaped the heavy hand of government regulation, but, in a number of cases, it has benefitted from specific government decisions that have helped its businesses. That looks a lot less like an individual entity benefiting from free markets and a lot more like buying special, pricey favors, to the potential disadvantage of competitors. In other words, a kind of high-tech crony capitalism. One wonders if you can google that.

    Quid pro quo anyone? Fascist government intervention and control anyone?

    • Dewster says:


      The gov is ran by corporations, we are fascist.

      Look at how much money the yes votes have taken from Telecom companies.

      Net Neutrality will be lost next.

      You fought against us when we saved the internet. You are getting your way. So stop complaining. This is what you voted for.

      You repeat all this propaganda, call others stupid, then when it happens? Act surprised?

      These Politicians are selling off everything to a corporate ran state.

      We are crowdfunding to buy some info, looking for the browsing history of politicians. Fight fire with fire.

      The world is falling to Global Fascism under the Predatory Capitalism Umbrella

      The US Gov is corrupt period comes in Blue and Red

      • Tina says:

        Dewey I understand and share your concern about corporatism. It is fascist and totally at odds with what I expect in our nation.

        Where I differ with you is where the blame lies and it isn’t in a single simple “bad corporations” scenario. As long as Congress is bent on creating laws that interfere with business and the economy, with growth and innovation, and with the ability to hire, you can count on companies trying to influence Congress. Government interference through regulation, taxation, and arbitrary laws act like a whip saw and make it very costly and difficult to do business. Our Congress was never intended to have such power in our lives. The powers they have are very limited according to the Constitution.

        Also, as I’ve written before, it is the responsibility of those who represent us to make decisions based on what is in the best interests of all the people, within those constitutional restraints.

        There’s a reason our founders limited the federal government. It was to prevent just this sort of thing.

        A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities. – Thomas Jefferson

        Capitalism is not predatory Dewey. It requires your consent and/or willing participation. It cannot force you to buy or sell, it cannot tax or regulate you arbitrarily, it cannot throw you in jail.

        You are one confused dude.

      • Pie Guevara says:

        Re the demented one’s “The gov is ran by corporations, we are fascist.”

        Someone should tie you up, drug you senseless, pack you into a UN relief container and — after administering a fast acting antidote — air drop you into Pyongyang.

        You would wake up in Dewey paradise and forever after your miserable and wasted life would be all sweetness and roses.

        • dewster says:

          Tina The laws were stripped and/or not followed. Most companies have merged into big conglomerates.

          So it is correct to say corporations when you look at how they pay to pass these bills. or look at the companies that are in pacs like ALEC and the bills that go straight to the floor in the same exact language.

          (We got a few companies to quit ALEC under pressure)

          There are really no small corporations that land in the Political Arena. In fact it is Bill Clinton’s Bill that allowed the Media to merge into the PR Firms for Donors and spread fake news mixed with Truth.

          So when one says SMALL Business in Politics they are talking about a smaller corporation. When One says Corporations they are usually speaking of the Huge corps that are now multinational and do not even consider the USA as their Home anymore.

          Sorry but that is where we are at. After 2008 with the Citizens United Decision Foreign Money became easier to filter into elections.

          We are in a Corporate State and this will not and can not sustain itself.

          Greed is taking down the Empire. We are spinning out of control.

          In fact whether you liked Trumpcare bill or not it was a Tax break for a few corps.

          The Koch’s did not like it and openly paid (campaign $ promises) to get the no votes because it did not work in their profit interests. (Still illegal)

          Forget these Parties both sides do this crap. Call them out every chance we get.

          I would vote for any Honest candidate I liked regardless of party.

  5. Tina says:

    Another semi-related article of interest, Is George Soros Behind This Plot To Topple Trump? is well worth a read if for no other reason than future reference. That Soros character has been active all over the world, supporting “color revolutions” to overthrow governments he doesn’t like. Now it seems his sights are set on America and Trump.

    Some of his willing dupes like to comment here.

  6. J. Soden says:

    Off topic a bit, but a great idea on how to pay for TheDonald’s Border Wall . . .

    At least SOMEBODY in Clowngress is actually thinking!

  7. Pete says:

    Big thank you to Doug Lamalfa for protecting our privacy!

  8. Pete says:

    Seems to me that if Donald would stop tweeting most of his problems would disappear. I would love for him to succeed as our president. I want all presidents to succeed no mater their party affiliation. The Donald’s got to man-up and stop tweeting. It’s just not presidential.

    Hey, what’s up with Flynn asking for immunity for his testimony? He was all over Hillarhead’s aides for doing that. If I remember correctly he said something like “Only the guilty request immunity.” His words are coming back to bite him in his back-side! Why in the world didn’t he and others just say, “Yes, I met with Russians and many other country’s representatives too. It’s my job to establish communication in preparation for a smooth transition of power.” It’s always the coverup that gets them, almost never the action. This crap drives me crazy! Now, because he didn’t fess up, Donald’s got to fire him and deal with all the fallout. This is a case of self inflicted failure on a huge level.

    • Tina says:

      What is “presidential?” We’ve had very colorful presidents in our short history.
      The idea has been put forth that Trump isn’t the only president to use the latest technology to speak his mind over the heads of reporters. Lincoln used the telegraph. Roosevelt made use of the railroad with his Whistlestop campaign. The young John F. Kennedy made very good use of television against Nixon who was not prepared and then later to sell his tax cuts and his space program (at great expense). Our use of language has changed dramatically in the past two decades. I blame the sixties progressive culture for a lot of it…as decency and public morality decline so has the language we find “acceptable.” Is it really so surprising that our leaders reflect what is so in our society?

      I’m not sure Trumps tweets are that big a deal. The media deserves to have their buttons pushed, Democrats deserve strong levels of derision if the latest Watergate style revelations are accurate, and some of what he Tweets is for effect, a negotiating tool used to put his allies and opponents off balance and on notice. I don;t think Trump is a prideful man. He’s willing to appear dumb to his detractors while he slips in the back door and trumps them in their own game.

      Narrative is something the main stream media has been able to control…not anymore.

      Trump is capable of being the gracious host but there’s no way we can expect him to fit some arbitrary mold…no other presidents have..certainly Obama didn’t.

      “This is a case of self inflicted failure on a huge level.”

      I’m willing to leave the door wide open until this “crap” is fully exposed.

      The obvious reason that Flynn, or any other person really, asks for immunity is that they are advised to do so by legal council. Flynn was targeted in my estimation. Part of the last administrations scheme to defeat Trump as a candidate. Later when he shocked them and won, which they did not expect, they went postal.

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