When Congress Sold the Internet


Sam Palacios

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can legally make big bucks by selling their user’s Internet history and information to major advertisement companies.

Alexander Yagoda, Staff Writer

The week of March 27,  2017 was a poor one for the democratic society we all know. For, in this week, the Senate decided to repeal a landmark law that required Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to obtain permission from the consumer before being legally allowed to sell their internet data. This “internet data” includes important information such as search history, geographic location, social security number (if given to the ISP), name and full content of all communications. This strikes a blow to the long-argued debate of Internet privacy, following in the footsteps of net neutrality and other similar movements.

“This bill should not have been passed. The ISPs are basically a conglomerate, controlling the market and paying off senators to do stuff like this,” junior Christian Llobell said.

In recent years, net neutrality and cyber security have been an issue. It allowed ISPs to regulate how much data could be sent to and from any specific website. This includes any streaming services, like Netflix and Spotify. In fact, during the peak years of the net neutrality issue, Comcast got into a squabble with Netflix over it, and Netflix saw significantly reduced average internet speeds to access their sites and load their content. This lasted up until Netflix backed down from Comcast at which point their speeds went back up; this is a similar issue, but on a larger scale. The terms and agreements you sign before using most services usually tell you whether or not the service may use or sell your data. Now, however, ISPs no longer have to include that. For them, this is a massive boon. Now, anyone on their internet, regardless of whether they are a paying customer or simply connecting to a restaurant’s WiFi can have all their Internet data sold.

Needless to say this is very bad for the consumer. It defeats the basic premise of Internet privacy and anonymity, something that helps many people communicate because of issues that make it difficult to interact in real-life scenarios. However, this data will likely be primarily sold to advertising companies, which isn’t objectively bad, considering you will just get things thrown at you that you probably like. Then, the realization sets in that all the information collected about you paints a painfully accurate picture of who you are, who you associate with and what you stand for, and suddenly targeted ads don’t seem very nice now.

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The ISP bill shouldn’t have been passed; it’s a breach of basic privacy. Also, the data can be bought by anyone, and can be used to do terrible things like blackmail or similar harassment.”

— freshman David Delgado

This information is not only restricted to advertising companies, in fact, anyone who can pay for the information can and will be given access to it. This has been noted by the public, and they have jumped into action, starting dozens of Kickstarter and GoFundMe campaigns to raise money for buying and publicizing the internet data of the 215 Congressmen who voted in favor of the bill.

While some may say it is not that bad, consider this: anyone, anywhere in the world can access all your internet data if they can pay. It does not matter their age, political affiliation or nationality. Plus once the data has been released to someone who doesn’t have restrictions placed on them by the FCC, then only time will tell where your data may end up.