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    Tool of Repression: Trump’s ‘Outrageous’ Repeal Could Target President’s Critics

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    US President Donald Trump has repealed regulations protecting internet privacy put in place by his predecessor Barack Obama, allowing for companies to put a huge price tag on their customers’ data.

    Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear spoke with Tim Karr, senior director of strategy at the FreePress advocacy group, about how this deregulation leaves US citizens vulnerable to not only targeted marketing, but also surveillance from the state.

    ​Trump’s privacy repeal allows internet companies to sell their customer’s data and browsing history under the pretext of not inhibiting business growth. Karr told Sputnik that this issue transcends political ideology.

    "In this case, it doesn’t matter whether you’re on the right or the left, I doubt there are a lot of people out there who want their internet provider collecting all of their browsing history and sending it out and sending it to the highest bidder," he said.

    Calling the move "outrageous," Karr noted that this "even goes beyond the concerns about mass marketers targeting you based on your browser history, but there’s a lot of websites that people go to that they may not want the rest of the world of know about." 

    "The potential customer for this data isn’t limited to these mass marketers but the FBI, for example, could gain access to this data. We found in the past that a lot of that surveillance that goes on by the FBI isn’t for potentially legitimate purposes like stopping criminals and terrorists, but actually targeting people who are political activists who may be perceived as a threat to any given administration."

    Karr pointed out that the kind of surveillance that could take place without internet privacy protections has taken place before, but it is now much easier since the information is digital instead of being stuffed into file cabinets.

    "Surveillance is not just a tool to protect national security, it’s also a tool of repression," he said. "If you look at the history between the FBI and Martin Luther King, there’s a very clear effort there to use the tools of surveillance to silence dissenting voices, and [this] goes forward through today." 

    Karr added, "So this is data that can be abused in any number of ways, and its being collected by these companies that are massively profitable … at the expense of the rights of ordinary citizens."

    Loud and Clear Host Brian Becker pointed out that people in many parts of the US don’t have many options for internet providers, putting them in a situation where they’re forced to choose a company that could sell their information.

    "The goal of a lot of these companies is to have an unregulated monopoly," Karr explained, "If you look at the history of monopolies in the Unites States the option is usually to have a monopoly like AT&T that is highly regulated, or to break up those monopolies so that competition can discipline the marketplace."

    He added, "We’re living in a time where these very powerful companies are succeeding in having it both ways. Having monopoly control over markets, but to also have that unregulated in any way, so giving these very powerful monopolies the power and the means to abuse their customers, and there’s no other options for customers besides unplugging, which a lot of people can’t do to survive in today’s digital marketplace."

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    Tags:
    Surveillance, Internet privacy, Verizon, Comcast, Donald Trump, United States
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