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Your data is up for sale – even without your consent!

On Monday, President Donald Trump signed a repeal of online privacy rules that would have limited the ability of Internet Service Providers in sharing or selling customers' browsing history for advertising purposes.

The mostly Republican led Congress voted to repeal FCC rules blocking Internet Service Providers from selling your data to third parties without permission. Internet Service Providers are now free to record, promote, share, and sell your browsing data to advertisers without your opt-in.

Can it be deemed as betraying the privacy rights of consumers? A lot of people will surely agree. More and more Internet users are becoming anxious for the loss of their privacy. Although the ISPs realize consumers are concerned about the onslaught of targeted ads that is sure to come, it is an opportunity they could not pass up.

Is Online Privacy Dead?

snooping

One could argue that it was never there to begin with. Your browsing history, what sites you visit, how long you stay on the site has always been recorded by your ISP, but now it will be monetized as the three biggest Internet Service companies – Comcast, AT&T,  Verizon and others sell your browsing history to advertisers.

Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) chair of the House subcommittee on communications and technology, stated that removing the rules which previously prevented the sale of your browsing history would actually improve privacy by removing the confusing rules that ISPs previously followed. “Consumer privacy will continue to be protected and will actually be enhanced by removing the uncertainty and confusion these rules will create,” rules which Republicans and ISPs have said were not in alignment with the Federal Trade Commission’s privacy framework, which governed ISPs until the 2015 net neutrality order went into effect. In a very close vote: 215 in favor of the resolution and 205 against, only 15 Republicans voted in opposition.

Opponents to the rules argue that companies like Google and Facebook are already doing this. They collect demographic and other profile data to offer advertisers and other marketers. As one will note; however, you use Google and Facebook voluntarily and agree to their privacy policy. Very few consumers have the option of choosing their ISPs, especially those in small rural areas that may be limited to one ISP only.

-- Your Technology Reporter Lee Lin

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