March 29, 2017

Question of the Week — Should Internet Service Providers Be Allowed to Sell Your Browsing History?

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

Congress recently approved resolutions that seek to overturn privacy regulations the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) adopted late last year. The White House has also released a statement confirming that President Trump will sign the legislation. The FCC’s privacy regulations, which had not yet gone into effect, required Internet service providers to obtain customers’ permission before collecting and sharing their data.

Opponents of the FCC’s privacy rules have argued that they place an unfair burden on broadband providers while leaving large Internet companies like Google free to collect user data without asking permission.  According to Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), “[consumer privacy] will be enhanced by removing the uncertainty and confusion these rules will create.”

Without strong privacy rules in place, individuals may have to rely on other methods to protect their browsing history. However, according to a New York Times Editorial this may be more difficult than it seems:

[People] will have to rely on encryption to prevent service providers from tracking them. But broadband companies would still know what websites people visit. And the companies would be able to see all of the communications between users and websites that do not use encryption. Sophisticated users might increasingly rely on virtual private networks, which are used by corporations to let their employees log into secure systems remotely, and other tools to mask their activities, but most Americans are unlikely to be conversant with such tricks of the trade.

What do you think?  Should internet service providers be allowed to sell your browsing history?

Should internet service providers be allowed to sell your browsing history?

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