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FEATURE NEWS

The Republican Controlled U.S. Congress Just Sold Out Your Privacy To
Corporate Interests
That's making America great again?

March 29, 2017




The "Alphabet Empire at The Glass Room," a pop-up exhibit in Manhattan last year based on Google's ability to track huge amounts of personal data thus the visual of many data points interconnected. Photo by Rhododendrites/Creative Commons
Chronicle opinion


(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- Here's how the United States Congress plans to make America "great again," among many other ways that have nothing to do with your best interests: handing over your privacy to faceless, often morally challenged, ain't-there-to-help-you or be your pal, corporations.

You've just been had. Again.

In one of the greatest rip-offs of the American people since justices at the US Supreme Court - evidently pumped up on mescaline and crack and hallucinating like lunatics decided that corporations (legal entities created on paper that do not eat food, have sex or get buried) are people - the House of Representatives voted Tuesday to allow internet service providers to sell information about your browsing history without your knowledge or consent.

How do you like those apples? Can't you just feel it in your bones this thing...making America "great again"?

The bill rolls back the FCC broadband privacy rules that were passed during the final months of the Obama administration, which by the way never had a chance to go into effect.

So who voted to make America great again by selling you out?

It was a party line vote, naturally: Republicans (who never met a corporation they didn't like and didn't want to coddle) voted to repeal the rules and Democrats voted to keep them.

President Trump (aka Captain Hairspray aka The Manic Midnight Tweeter who failed miserably in his first major deal-making venture in the White House) is expected to sign this pig of a bill as he looks you in the face and says, "It's gonna be great. Trust me! I know more than the generals do!"

In addition to protecting your data, those Obama administration rules also required Internet providers to notify customers when they experienced a data breach. The Senate voted to revoke the rules last week.

The Republican argument for selling you out? Well gosh, Google, Facebook and other large Internet based companies like them aren’t subject to similar restrictions -- which is a shame because they should be.

Instead of making rules to make sure that Google and the rest of them protected your data and privacy, the clowns in congress went in the opposite direction.

Their reasoning is that targeting just ISP's (Internet Service Providers) is unfair and puts them at a disadvantage in the sacred "free market" (which only exists in a few addled minds and a book by the nutcase Atheist and hack writer Ayn Rand).

That "free" market includes apps and websites that can also collect your data.

Those that voted to protect individual data

The smart people, the ones who voted to protect your data because it is the right thing to do have a great counter argument: you can easily switch your browser to one that's pretty darned secure but you almost always have zero choice when it comes to broadband services because up front you have to agree to their terms (if you want to stay connected to the online world) and such outfits know a lot about you, including some habits and hobbies you have that perhaps you wouldn't want disclosed to some cooperate goons in New York or hackers in Russia.

Check out this report here written last month by Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., and Federal Trade Commissioner Terrell McSweeny about what broadband providers know about you.

They also point out in that article that Americans these days might not agree on much, but an Oct. 2016 Pew survey showed that 91% of adults in this country feel they have lost control of their personal information. Not good.

The Vizio case

That same report noted that in the second week in February the Federal Trade Commission settled a case with television-maker Vizio for secretly collecting detailed information about what people (you) watch on their TVs, whether what they were watching came from their cable TV connections, on the Internet of even on their DVD players. (Are they kidding? Even the DVD players?)

How's that for creepy corporate stuff?

Vizio reportedly sold this information "to advertisers and other companies that used it to monitor viewers’ reactions to certain programs and advertisements, such as whether they visited a website on their smartphone after viewing an ad on TV," according to a Slate.com report.

What does this House of Representatives vote Tuesday to allow internet service providers to sell information about your browsing history without your knowledge or consent mean for you in the short term? Not much probably.

But in the long term, you could be major hosed because according to an AP report , "In the absence of clear privacy rules (that) means that the companies supplying your internet service — and who can see a great deal of what you do with it — can continue to mine that information for use in their own advertising businesses."

And consumer advocates according to the AP report are rightly concerned that "The companies will be an enticing target for hackers". (Italics ours)

The hypothetical

Here's a hypothetical: you have a long browsing history of visiting some pretty strange porn websites late at night -- the kind you would not want your wife, employer, grandma or anyone else to know about.

Hacker contacts you, lets you know he has your entire browsing history going back years and wouldn't it be a shame if the wife and your employer and the rest of the world including possible future employers and future wives found out about what a sick twist you really are?

But there's a way out of this pal. A lousy $20,000 and you can make this problem go away for good.

And you, being the upstanding, well-liked pastor of a local church that you are will do anything to get your hands on that 20-large to make the problem vanish.





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