WASHINGTON, D.C. – Republican Representatives Tom MacArthur, Frank LoBiondo and Chris Smith all voted yes this week on a controversial plan to allow internet providers to sell the web browsing histories of internet subscribers in a landmark rollback of FCC privacy protections
The bill, which would allow internet service providers like Comcast to sell the web browsing histories of customers to advertisers without user consent, has drawn strong rebukes from privacy advocates.
After being approved in a vote along party lines in the Senate, the House of Representatives approved the resolution in a 215-205 vote, with 9 members not voting.
“Putting the interests of Internet providers over Internet users, Congress today voted to erase landmark broadband privacy protections,” said a statement released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation about Wednesday’s vote. “If the bill is signed into law, companies like Cox, Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, and Verizon will have free rein to hijack your searches, sell your data, and hammer you with unwanted advertisements.”
If the FCC’s privacy rules are repealed, internet service providers would have free reign to sell the website history, app usage data, and content of emails, among other things of their subscribers.
The legislation will now head to the desk of President Donald Trump. A statement released by the White House indicated that Trump’s advisors will recommend he sign the resolution.
Technology blog The Verge used federal campaign finance data to track which members that voted yes on this legislation received money from individuals, corporations and SuperPACs tied to the communications industry lobby. Unsurprisingly, all three of Ocean County’s congressional representatives were on the list.
- Chris Smith: $6,000
- Tom MacArthur: $19,000
- Frank LoBiondo: $14,500
Editor’s note: To protect user privacy, Ocean County Politics is now being served over an encrypted HTTPS connection. Your editor has already preemptively responded to the measure by setting up a private encrypted VPN server. For those interested in preventing their data from being sold, I recommend OpenVPN running on a Linux-based server. OpenVPN can be used to tunnel your web traffic with state of the art 256-bit AES encryption, which would make it impossible for internet service providers to be able to use your data as this proposal would allow. VPNs are not perfect, and can’t protect against every threat, but they can be used as a countermeasure against this pervasive corporate surveillance or your company or school’s restrictive firewall when done right. The open source SSL VPN software can also be configured – as I have setup my server – to make the VPN tunnel appear as if it were a regular HTTPS connection by running on Port 443, making it nearly undetectable.