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    'Any Data They Can Intercept': US Congress Will Let Companies Sell Browsing Data

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    Following in the Senate’s footsteps, the US House of Representatives has approved a piece of legislation that would allow massive telephone and cable companies to sell the data generated by internet users’ browsing habits.

    On March 28, the US House narrowly passed a bill that analysts say is a huge win for the bloated telecommunications industry, and a commensurately large invasion on citizens’ privacy – or lack thereof. The resolution cleared its way through the lower chamber of the legislature by a 215-205 vote. 

    If US President Donald Trump signs the resolution into law, companies will legally be able to create profiles about every internet user, then sell those profiles to the highest bidder, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said in a statement. 

    "Considering how much access [internet service providers, or ISPs] already have to highly sensitive data, it is absolutely unacceptable for them to monetize personal information," Representative Mike Pocan of Wisconsin said Tuesday. 

    The ability for service providers to collect "essentially any data they can intercept and read for themselves" was supposed to be an opt-in only policy, giving consumers a choice whether to disclose their data, but instead telecommunications companies will have the ability to generate revenue off of the public’s browsing habits, said Matt Erickson on Radio Sputnik’s By Any Means Necessary with Eugene Puryear. Erickson is a director with the Digital Privacy Alliance. 

    ​"Google and Facebook collect large amounts of information in ways that should be very concerning to people," Puryear said.

    The news comes as a major setback for privacy advocates and a major victory for Comcast, TimeWarner, AT&T and Verizon, which "will have free rein to hijack your searches, sell your data, and hammer you with unwanted advertisements," the EFF said. 

    What’s more, at a time when nearly every major financial institution, electrical utilities company, defense and aerospace firm, and governmental agency is seeking to bolster its cyber defense systems, there are a host of reasons to think that these new rules would be detrimental to the US’ collective cybersecurity. 

    By recording your traffic and building a profile about you, for instance, hackers gain a new target database to breach. 

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    Tags:
    Internet governance, cybersecurity, Digital Privacy Alliance, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mike Pocan, Eugene Puryear, Donald Trump, Washington DC
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