Privacy

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
broadband, competition, congress, fcc, isps, privacy



Consumer Broadband Privacy Protections Are Dead

from the dysfunction-junction dept

Last week, the Senate voted 50-48 along party lines to kill consumer broadband privacy protections. That vote then continued today in the House, where GOP lawmakers finished the job, apparently happy to advertise how ISP campaign contributions consistently, directly manifest in anti-consumer policy with a 215 to 205 vote (you can find a full vote breakdown here). The rules, which were supposed to take effect this month, were killed using the Congressional Review Act -- which not only eliminates the protections, but limits the agency's ability to issue similar rules down the road.

The broadband industry's effort to kill the rules is one of the uglier examples of pay-to-play government in recent memory. The protections, originally passed last October by the FCC, have been endlessly demonized by the broadband industry, despite the fact that they're relatively straight forward. The rules would have simply required that ISPs are transparent about what they collect (and who they sell it to), and provide working opt out tools. ISPs were also required to have consumers opt in for more sensitive data collection (financial, browser history data).

Large ISPs, however, consistently whined about the rules, insisting the rules would "confuse" consumers, and hamper "innovation" in the advertising and telecom space. They also tried to claim that ISPs don't really collect much data on consumers, and what collection that does happen can be easily dodged by using a VPN (neither of which is true). ISPs also tried to claim it was unfair to saddle them with additional privacy regulations not seen by Google and Facebook, intentionally ignoring that the often stark lack of broadband competition makes this an apples to oranges comparison.

In an last-ditch attempt to try and convince the House that ISP revenues shouldn't take priority over consumer privacy, a group of around twenty smaller ISPs sent a letter to the House (clearly promptly ignored) trying to explain to them how the lack of competition in broadband made the rules necessary:

"Perhaps if there were a healthy, free, transparent, and competitive market for Internet services in this country, consumers could choose not to use those companies’ products. But small ISPs like ours face many structural obstacles, and many Americans have very limited choices: a monopoly or duopoly on the wireline side, and a highly consolidated cellular market dominated by the same wireline firms.

Under those circumstances, the FCC’s Broadband Privacy Rules are the only way that most Americans will retain the free market choice to browse the Web without being surveilled by the company they pay for an Internet connection."

And now those rules are dead, courtesy of lawmakers that put fattening AT&T and Comcast quarterly earnings above consumer privacy and the health of the entire internet.

ISPs have consistently tried to argue that killing the FCC's rules is no big deal because the FTC will somehow magically pick up the slack. But as former FCC boss Tom Wheeler recently noted, the FTC lacks rule-making authority, and ISPs know that privacy issues are going to quickly fall through the cracks at the over-extended agency. There's also rumblings that the GOP wants to push additional bills that hamstring both the FCC and the FTC consumer protection authority. If that doesn't work, they can dodge FTC oversight via common carrier exemptions patiently carved out by AT&T lawyers looking to dodge accountability for fraud.

During an early afternoon floor debate, Massachusetts Representative Michael Capuano had perhaps the most amusing and heated opposition to the effort (video here), citing his online underwear purchases while mocking the lack of public support for the rules' repeal:

...When I was growing up, one of the tents of the Republican party that I admired the most was (dedication to) privacy. Please give me one, not two, one good reason why all these people here, why all these people watching, would want Comcast or Verizon to have information -- unless they give it to them. We're talking medical information, we're talking passwords, we're talking financial information, we're talking college applications -- there is nothing in today's society that every one of us doesn't do every day on the internet -- and yet Comcast is gonna get it. Not because I said it's ok.

...Go out in the street! Please, leave Capitol Hill for five minutes -- go anywhere you want -- find three people in the street who think it's ok. And you can explain to them "ROIs, and the company has to make progress, and we have to make money." You'll lose that argument every single time, as you should. And I guarantee it you won't find anybody in your district who wants this bill passed.

It's consistently disappointing that ideas like net neutrality and privacy get mired in partisan politics, despite the broad, bipartisan consumer support both concepts enjoy. What happens next won't be pretty, regardless of your political ideology.

Congress has intentionally and repeatedly ignored the lack of broadband competition that makes net neutrality, privacy, and other bad behavior possible. Now, as cable's monopoly over broadband grows faster than ever, ISP-loyal lawmakers are rushing to strip away any and all government oversight of one of the least-liked, and most anti-competitive business sectors in American history. ISPs recently busted for covertly modifying packets to track users, charging an additional fee for privacy, or giving worse customer support based on credit score now have carte blanche to misbehave.

Thanks to a cash-soaked Congress there will be neither broadband competition, nor functional regulatory oversight of an industry with a documented history of aggressive, anti-consumer and anti-competitive behavior. What could possibly go wrong?


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 3:45pm

    Since I heard about this happening. Starting to look at AWS or some other host that I can build a VPN box on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    LookTothePositive, 28 Mar 2017 @ 3:52pm

    Looking for a positive

    So with this being reality now, trying to find the positive.

    Now courts can decide the 1st and 4th amendments in place of congress which seems to despise said 1st and 4th amendments.

    I would recommend that everyone donate now to EFF and the ACLU and yes, TechDirt who have a long series of fights ahead.

    Stay the course, protect your health insurance as best you can by not searching for anything related to health or things that hurt your health using your account or any of your friends machines... expecting health policies to change soon based on what insurers can now legally buy about your activities, favorite unhealthy foods, sodas, smoking preferences, exercise habits et.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 5:45pm

      Re: Looking for a positive

      We can get the web history of the White House and Congress.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ShadowNinja (profile), 29 Mar 2017 @ 5:24am

      Re: Looking for a positive

      Now courts can decide the 1st and 4th amendments in place of congress which seems to despise said 1st and 4th amendments.

      Aw how cure, this person thinks the courts will actually defend our rights.

      The same courts that have done nothing about Civil Asset Forfeiture being a 4th amendment violation for decades.

      The same courts that have done next to nothing to stop the NSA and other government branches massive spying us.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 4:01pm

    Not only is this yet another move by the moron-elected administration/congress motivated solely by corruption, this isn't even the only one today. There's also the executive order removing the EPA's Clean Power Plan and ordering agencies to pretend global warming doesn't exist.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 1:24am

      Re:

      and ordering agencies to pretend global warming doesn't exist. And California is trying to pass a law that says you cab be arrested is you say it exists.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 28 Mar 2017 @ 4:01pm

    That didn't take long...

    I got a text from my phone provider (Boost-Mobile) earlier this afternoon stating they've already changed their privacy policy given today's vote. Lots of lawyer-talk, but it boils down to "you don't have any (privacy)".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      sigalrm (profile), 28 Mar 2017 @ 4:05pm

      Re: That didn't take long...

      Hey, at least they warned you.

      Verizon is almost certainly just going to flip the switch.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Karl Bode (profile), 28 Mar 2017 @ 4:11pm

        Re: Re: That didn't take long...

        Yep. I mean, they were modifying user data packets to track people around the internet for TWO YEARS before security researchers even noticed. It took another six months and an FCC fine to get them to even provide opt out tools.

        And that was WITH inconsistent regulatory privacy oversight. Imagine what happens now.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 28 Mar 2017 @ 4:56pm

          Re: Re: Re: That didn't take long...

          Well clearly without those pesky 'rules' and 'limits' to get in the way they'll finally be able to provide the world-class service, privacy included, that they've always wanted but have been previously blocked from offering.

          I mean, that's seems to be what they've been saying, and surely they wouldn't lie about something like that, right?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 2:25am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: That didn't take long...

            I'm sure you can trust their word just as much as you can trust the word of the President of the United States!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sigalrm (profile), 28 Mar 2017 @ 4:03pm

    Maybe there's an upside here:

    It's not going to be a problem if (when) someone sets up a kickstarter campaign to purchase the "internet histories" for members of Congress and the Senate, right? Might have to set up a shell company to do it, I guess.

    After all, it shouldn't be a big deal for that information to get published, given that all of our elected political heroes are fine, upstanding citizens with nothing untoward in their browsing history.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    My_Name_Here, 28 Mar 2017 @ 4:06pm

    The "deadness" is pretty relative. Before the FCC decided it could create law (it can't and shouldn't), these supposed protections did not exist. The internet didn't break then, and it won't break tomorrow as a result.

    Since companies like Google, Facebook, and even Twitter seem to have been tracking your every move, and since you willingly feed those companies an endless supply of personal information, there change here is not going to be that big. You are already identified, tagged, and left to roam in the wild to make marketers happy.

    If there was suddenly a strong turn against social media, if people more actively blocked out Google, stopped leaving themselves "logged in" to various places as they surf, then perhaps this article might have more meaning. You have already sold yourself out a long time ago for nothing more than a few shiny web pages. Stop acting like virgins in a whorehouse, you are already web hookers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 5:04pm

      Re:

      You look very confused.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 28 Mar 2017 @ 5:08pm

      Re:

      Ignoring for a moment the delightful little 'you're already whores, why are you complaining about being screwed' comparison you ended on(classy, really), your comment is based upon a false equivalence, and one that the article pointed out.

      If you don't want to use Google, then you don't have to use Google, and there are various tricks and programs to block their services and tracking. Likewise, if you don't want to use Facebook or Twitter, you don't have to, making it a wee bit difficult for them to track you.

      Don't like your ISP's privacy policy? Odds are good you have no choice but to accept it anyway, as there either isn't any real alternative or the other options are just as bad. You either get your internet service from them, whatever their privacy policy is, or you don't get internet at all.

      Hearkening back to the first sentence, you also seem to be beating up a strawman, as the only ones that seemed to think that basic privacy protections would 'break the internet' were the ISP's arguing against those simple rules, who claimed that people would just be so very confused by the change, and get in the way of the absolutely amazing 'innovation' that the companies could otherwise engage in.

      The only 'threat' posed by basic privacy protection rules was to the profit margins of the ISP's, and the only people who benefit from the lack of such rules is those same ISP's and the companies that they're selling data collected from their customers to.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Thad, 28 Mar 2017 @ 5:13pm

        Re: Re:

        Plus, I pay my ISP for the service I get.

        Facebook and Google's business model is that they provide service in exchange for your personal data.

        ISPs' business model is that they provide service in exchange for money.

        What is my ISP going to give me in exchange for my personal data? Faster service? A lower monthly bill? Lolno.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 7:01pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Plus, I pay my ISP for the service I get."

          And therefore you should expect a corresponding reduction in the monthly fees you are charged.

          Aaaaahahahahahahaha - ohhh that's a good one.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 1:26am

          Re: Re: Re:

          >What is my ISP going to give me in exchange for my personal data?

          A man in the middle certificate whenever they can, so that they can get more data, and serve you their own adverts.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 6:38pm

        Re: Re:

        He is mostly right, you did sell out, you just refuse to realize it.

        By all means, keep calling them all strawman arguments on your way out. It's been working out SO WELL! right?

        The FCC got all of this started and this place's sycophantic love of the FCC ensured that this would be the end result. It has been repeated ad nauseam that whatever power you grant your allies is the same power you grant your enemies in government.

        Sit back, enjoy the ride, you all asked for this.

        or if you prefer this one...

        it's your bed, you helped make it! have a nap!

        and yes... by all means deny everything! you are never responsible for anything, it was someone else's fault!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 7:02pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Idiots ... I swear, you guys are all the same.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 7:13pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            That's funny, was going to say the same thing about you.

            I have been telling you guys it was going to backfire... and to be honest, I did not expect it to backfire this much but hey... lets smack talk the person that foretold everyone what was going to happen because THAT is the guy to take your anger out on and not the people that helped cause it. Right?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 6:41am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I read that you and your Trump voting cohorts are just now waking up to the fact that you've been had ... poor babies. Taken for a ride by the fatso orange blob promising everything while delivering nothing but bullshit and now attempting to lay blame at the feet of those who opposed your silly charade because it is never your fault .. always some one else. And then to act all indignant about it - lol

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 29 Mar 2017 @ 12:40am

          Re: Re: Re:

          So, your argument is that "we" (including you, but amusingly not me) deserve to be screwed because of undying support for the FCC (another lie, but bear with me).

          How does this make sense to you? The entire point is that the bare protections that the FCC afforded are being completely removed, and they're being prevented from doing anything more (the agency now being told they should do it won't/can't do so).

          You won't blame the ISPs who will be screwing you, only the agency that was the only thing stopping them. It's bizarre. This is one of the more bizarre trends I've seen recently, with regard to everything from financial institutions to healthcare to ISPs - you won't blame the people taking your lives, but you'll attack the only people who were able to stop them, after they have been prevented from doing so. It's such a strange mindset, but it does handily stop you from supporting further attempts to protect you.

          "it's your bed, you helped make it! have a nap!"

          No thanks, I'll be busy outside of the US enjoying competitive fast internet - laughing at people like you, scrambling for someone to blame for the bed you have to share with them. The sad part is all your anti-FCC ranting will only make you reject any real attempt to fix things once the lunatics have been put back into their cells and the adults take back over.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 1:36am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The FCC shouldn't have afforded anything, they are not lawmakers.

            Simple mistake really.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 29 Mar 2017 @ 1:56am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "The FCC shouldn't have afforded anything, they are not lawmakers."

              So, you think congress should be directly in charge of everything, rather than individual agencies who specialise in the field? That sounds both horrifically unworkable and doomed to massive failure. Which other lawmakers do you have in mind?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 6:44am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Yeah, just look at the members of congress ... you want them deciding anything? I doubt they are capable of choosing a pair of socks to put on in the morning.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 8:44am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You get the ISP you deserve.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 5:51am

        Re: Re:

        *If you don't want to use Google, then you don't have to use Google, and there are various tricks and programs to block their services and tracking. Likewise, if you don't want to use Facebook or Twitter, you don't have to, making it a wee bit difficult for them to track you.*

        The problem with this statement is that it leaves people believing there are choices.

        Blocking tracking with tricks and programs? No, sadly, this isn't true at all. These companies have their tricks and programs to identify you as soon as you hit their site, and your browser is the biggest culprit by allowing them to hoover digital fingerprints and figure out who you are.

        Using VPN services and other programs only _prevents_ ISPs from accessing information from the transmission. It does not protect a user once they're on the site.

        This becomes a problem when companies like Comcast, Time Warner, and AT&T (to name a few) actually own many subsidiaries which own content providing websites. Each of these companies has many subsidiaries and the average user isn't going to know who "owns" the site (nor will they care).

        Google, Apple, and Microsoft most assuredly "sell" data from its users. While it may not be sold externally (guessing here), it's definitely sold internally, pushing ads based on tracking information _they_ will buy from other companies, including ISPs.

        Please don't insult our intelligence to think this is limited only to ISPs and "choice".

        The problem isn't with companies or the government.

        The problem falls squarely on consumers who started accepting invasive terms of services to crush candy allowing privacy to go straight to hell and never to return.

        Before you object, I dare you to try and find "replacements" for the hardware and software used in your daily life when the terms are updated and you decide to "Decline".

        Let us know how that works out since you believe we have "choices".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 29 Mar 2017 @ 9:24am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Blocking tracking with tricks and programs? No, sadly, this isn't true at all. These companies have their tricks and programs to identify you as soon as you hit their site, and your browser is the biggest culprit by allowing them to hoover digital fingerprints and figure out who you are.

          ...

          Using VPN services and other programs only prevents ISPs from accessing information from the transmission. It does not protect a user once they're on the site.

          Which is why, a I noted above, you don't use their sites. Don't like Google? Don't use their services. Don't like Facebook? Don't use Facebook. And so on and so forth.

          As for stuff from the company but not on the sites, Ghostery, script-blockers, ad-blockers. Easy to find add-ons that allow you to block them from working.

          Before you object, I dare you to try and find "replacements" for the hardware and software used in your daily life when the terms are updated and you decide to "Decline".

          Let us know how that works out since you believe we have "choices".

          Well let's see, we'll start with the obvious just to make sure we're on the same page.

          If you don't want Google, Microsoft or Apple gathering data on you, don't use Google, Microsoft or Apple products.

          DuckDuckGo for your search engine.

          For OS's there a few options, with Linux in general probably being the most well known.

          LineageOS for your phone and/or tablet.

          That covers computer, phone and web browser, what other options were you looking for?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 11:12am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Very insightful. You are not relying on the Gov to protect your privacy, you are taking ownership of it yourself. You have educated yourself on the various tools, and have implemented them. Good for you. I hope the rest of the people do the same.

            This false since of security that regulation creates is more dangerous than no regulation at all. You think Corporations are going to follow the rules? How about the Gov? Pfft.. they will lie, cheat, hide, do whatever it takes. Regulations are at the whim of whoever is in charge. People need to take ownership themselves.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 29 Mar 2017 @ 12:09pm

              'Difficult' isn't 'Impossible', but it's better than nothing

              Regulations to protect the public(assuming they're properly written and enforced) aren't completely useless, as they make it more difficult for large companies to screw over their customers.

              If there's no rules at all then they can basically do whatever they want, with the only hope that they go so far overboard that there's enough of a pushback against them that it's worth it to the politicians to risk their 'donations' to crack some heads for PR sake, and even then so long a they're not complete idiots they can always claim that they didn't mean to make unfair use of their power/position.

              Regulations, even ones they will likely ignore, set specific limits, such that if they plan on overshooting those limits they have to hide their actions or pretend that they're not doing what they are, balancing out risk versus potential reward. As a result the damage they cause is limited somewhat, even if it may not be negated entirely.

              (It's similar to some of the comments that came up post-Snowden, when people claimed that it was a waste of time to write laws to reign in the NSA because the NSA would just ignore the laws. While that's true to an extent, laws limiting their powers would mean that actions that broke those laws would hold a risk, making them less likely to engage in such actions and more likely to stick to what was allowed. Hardly perfect to be sure but you work with what you have, not with what you wish you had.)

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 12:48pm

                Re: 'Difficult' isn't 'Impossible', but it's better than nothing

                " as they make it more difficult for large companies to screw over their customers."

                This is where I have a problem. Does it make it more difficult? Or does it make it easier by providing a false since of security to the people? Again, for regulation to work, the regulations would need REAL teeth. They would also have to be fixed, and not subject to the whim's of whoever is in charge. Neither of which is ever going to happen.

                " As a result the damage they cause is limited somewhat, even if it may not be negated entirely."

                Again I disagree. I think in some cases the damage could be compounded. Providing the people with a false since of security enables them to justify not protecting them selves. The whole; It's against the law for them to collect my data so I don't need protections mentality. They may be fined 10 million, but how much did they make? Would they ever be honest in telling us?

                I appreciate your rebuttal, and I'll give it some more thought. Perhaps I'm just a little on the pessimistic side of this issue? I guess I just believe that people should take ownership of things like this and not rely on the government or someone else to protect them.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Thad, 29 Mar 2017 @ 1:21pm

                  Re: Re: 'Difficult' isn't 'Impossible', but it's better than nothing

                  I guess I just believe that people should take ownership of things like this and not rely on the government or someone else to protect them.

                  Take ownership how, exactly? Do you expect your grandparents to set up a VPN?

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 1:50pm

                    Re: Re: Re: 'Difficult' isn't 'Impossible', but it's better than nothing

                    "Take ownership how, exactly? Do you expect your grandparents to set up a VPN?"

                    A friend? Relative? Neighbors kid? Worse case hire someone? Just because they are old doesn't mean they are stupid.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • identicon
                      Thad, 29 Mar 2017 @ 3:04pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: 'Difficult' isn't 'Impossible', but it's better than nothing

                      So when you said "not rely on the government or someone else to protect them", what you meant was "rely on someone else to protect them"?

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 4:08pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 'Difficult' isn't 'Impossible', but it's better than nothing

                        I thought we were having an intelligent conversation, now I see your just being disingenuous. When I buy a home security system, I am paying someone else for my security, but I am taking ownership of my security by buying a security system. When I buy a gun, I am relying on the gun manufacturer to provide me with a gun at a cost, yet I am still taking ownership of my security. When I buy a computer, and it doesn't have an antivirus, I purchase one, and therein I am taking ownership. I could go on and on. Simply expecting someone to do something for me as a matter of law, and hiring someone to do something for me/asking a family member for help, are two completely different things.

                        This is the problem with an entitlement society, they forget how to do for themselves. People think they are protected because it is illegal or against the regulations, and forget how to, or don't bother to learn, how to protect themselves. Be it a matter of privacy, or security.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  That One Guy (profile), 29 Mar 2017 @ 3:26pm

                  Re: Re: 'Difficult' isn't 'Impossible', but it's better than nothing

                  This is where I have a problem. Does it make it more difficult? Or does it make it easier by providing a false since of security to the people? Again, for regulation to work, the regulations would need REAL teeth. They would also have to be fixed, and not subject to the whim's of whoever is in charge. Neither of which is ever going to happen.

                  Hence the 'and enforced' bit of my comment. I agree with you in that a rule, even a good rule not enforced is in a very real sense worse than none at all, as it's all form but no substance and provides illusory protections, but I feel that a large part of that problem is not so much the regulations or rules, but the enforcement, specifically the lack thereof, of them.

                  As I've pointed out several times when articles come up about companies being slapped with pathetic fines that don't even come close to matching the gains the company made from screwing over their customers, 'Hit hard or don't bother'. Either hit a company with a fine such that they lose money from their actions or the only message sent is 'Even if you get caught you still make a profit', which is if anything exactly the opposite of the message that should be sent.

                  Now while a regulation not enforced can certainly be counter-productive, the problem with not having a regulation in place at all is that it has the problem above(companies abusing their power and maybe getting slapped down for it) without the clear line that they have to worry, if only slightly, of crossing. Without that clear line you still have the problem of abuse of power/position, you still have the problem of possible fines that are jokes without a punchline, but the chance of a punishment kicking in drops even lower as the question of 'Did Company X step over the line?' becomes a lot more subjective.

                  I can sorta see where you're coming from in that regulations/rules not enforced leave people with a false sense of security, and getting rid of them gets rid of that and forces them to take up the task themselves, but I don't see it as a good trade myself. People shouldn't have to jump through multiple hoops just to keep ahead of companies on something as simple as privacy. If someone wants to go above and beyond to protect their personal data, whether that be not using an entire service where there's competition or take steps like add-ons and whatnot to leave as little a trail as possible that should be extra on top of basic protections (ideally) everyone enjoys, in a similar way that people shouldn't have to become mechanics to be able to drive a safe, reliable car.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 4:18pm

                    Re: Re: Re: 'Difficult' isn't 'Impossible', but it's better than nothing

                    "People shouldn't have to jump through multiple hoops just to keep ahead of companies on something as simple as privacy."

                    You have very good and valid points. I appreciate where your coming from and I really don't think our views are that far apart. I also believe that enforcement is the key. Unfortunately, it seems the penalties seem to also be at the whims of the politicians as Trump has already shown us. I have hopes too, but if history is any indicator, I am better off taking ownership of my own privacy then letting the Gov do it for me.

                    I guess I'm a little tired of expecting politicians to do the right thing as they tend to do whatever is best for them at the time, not us. The tools are out there for the people to secure their privacy. They are not full proof, but they will make it significantly more costly and difficult for the Gov and Corporations to snoop. That added cost may be enough to put a stop to the need to have regulation.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 8:50pm

      Re:

      There's quite a large difference between the data an individual website/company collects about you and the entirety of your browsing history/data in one place.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 11:40pm

      Re:

      Is that why you refuse to log in, asshole?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ImTheRhino (profile), 28 Mar 2017 @ 4:06pm

    Governments and ISPs would have been watching and thinking if the US can allow it, so can we.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 4:07pm

    Modify cookies

    Would it be legal to modify the tracking cookies in a way to make them non-functional? Like make a bot that whenever said cookie gets updated it automatically breaks it? might be needed with the zombie cookies floating around?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Karl Bode (profile), 28 Mar 2017 @ 4:10pm

      Re: Modify cookies

      Not enough. Verizon's Unique Identifier Header actively modifies the packet to make cookies irrelevant. In the deep packet inspection age, cookies are kind of a relic.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 4:13pm

        Re: Re: Modify cookies

        Then what would be the best way to actively defeat this surveillance by making it a pain to track you in your opinion. Would trying to overwhelm the surveillance with data be possible?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 4:34pm

          Re: Re: Re: Modify cookies

          would be the best way to actively defeat this surveillance [?]

          If you're serious, then there's Tor.

          Some significant downsides go along with that option. But, otoh, it is indeed a feasible, working option.

          Most of the other approaches to the problem are half-assed, or even just plain snake-oil scam-ware.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 Mar 2017 @ 4:43pm

          Re: Re: Re: Modify cookies

          Several sites are suggesting VPN's. I use PIA (Private Internet Access) which is only about $40 per year.

          This morning I read a bit about a roll your own VPN on Vice. This would take a bit of effort.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Thad, 28 Mar 2017 @ 5:24pm

          Re: Re: Re: Modify cookies

          There's a browser plugin called TrackMeNot that sends random searches through various search engines. I've never used it and can't personally vouch for it, but it might be worth looking into.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Avantare, 28 Mar 2017 @ 5:09pm

      Re: Modify cookies

      I'd be game for this. Their cookie on MY computer. Mine free to do with what I want.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 7:07pm

      Re: Modify cookies

      Collect tracking cookies, get your friends and family to contribute - keep them all on your computer. Periodically, do a right shift to all of them with a random added character for extra cookie fun time. This has the potential to pollute their stupid database.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Dave Cortright (profile), 28 Mar 2017 @ 4:24pm

    Great feature differentiator for the better ISPs and VPN providers

    Now I get it, not everyone has access to the better ISPs out there—like the ones that signed that EFF letter. But for those that do, what a great marketing opportunity. We won't collect and sell your data. If I weren't already using Sonic.net, I would absolutely switch.

    The other people who could benefit are the VPN providers. If I were stuck with Comcast, AT&T or one of the other most-hated companies, I'd sign up for a solid VPN service and invest in a router that supports VPN. Again, I get it. Not everyone is tech savvy enough to pull this off. But if a VPN provider would ship out and support a router that was configured to always use their VPN, well that would be the kind of service that certain folks would pay for.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 28 Mar 2017 @ 4:28pm

    so how long will republicans want something the FCC traditionally does, and finds out that the FCC can't do it, because the republicans gutted the FCC?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Advocate (profile), 28 Mar 2017 @ 4:30pm

    The good news is, this is another step toward an open-source, Aetherium-based internet. The bad news is, your privacy will be long gone before then.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 7:49pm

      Re:

      Indeed. The Free Internet as we used to know has been dead for a long time thanks to advertisers, corporations, cookies, JavaScript and stupid social media and their users.

      It's time to hit the reset button.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Advocate (profile), 28 Mar 2017 @ 4:31pm

    I'd be willing to bet that there's already a law in place that exempts members of congress from any such surveillance.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Namelessone (profile), 28 Mar 2017 @ 4:35pm

    ISP = Internet Sans Privacy

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 5:07pm

    I can't wait till details of our illustrious leaderz browsing habits are published for all to see - it will be great, the greatest - not sad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lesath, 28 Mar 2017 @ 5:29pm

    "ISPs don't really collect much data on consumers"

    If that were true, then they wouldn't have had much reason to oppose rules against it, would they?

    I'm afraid I'd never make it very far up the ladder in big business or government. I just not that dishonest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 28 Mar 2017 @ 5:45pm

      "It says there's a $500 penalty for shooting my own foot with a gun?" "Exactly." "But... I'd never do that." "Then you have nothing to worry about."

      Yeah, the proposed rules were hardly difficult or complex, and had the companies involved been honest in what they claimed they did and did not do then the rules would have been a minor blip, nothing more, as they wouldn't really have required any real change.

      That they fought tooth and nail against the rules made it pretty clear that their statements about how they barely gather any information and certainly nothing personal made clear how badly they were lying(their actions certainly didn't help either).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 6:02pm

    Political consequences

    Although today's story focuses on today's House roll call vote, people should understand that what the House voted on today, S.J.Res. 34, originated in the other chamber — due to the sponsorship of Arizona's Senator Jeff Flake.

    Senator Flake's seat in the Senate belongs to Class 1.

    The great question is whether Congress' action now will resonate in the 2018 election?

    Or will it just prompt a few comments here and there and then fall into the dustbin of forgetfulness.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 7:10pm

      Re: Political consequences

      fall into the dustbin of forgetfulness.

      Bingo.

      Anything with a time horizon greater than 1 week is effectively "never" for the vast majority of the electorate and promptly runs out of their little tiny minds.

      As much as I hate myself for the characterization of the common electorate, I am depressed and experienced enough to know that if it isn't the truth, it's pretty close to it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 8:07am

        Re: Re: Political consequences

        The problem is to many these are not important issues. They get hung up on the classic blue vs. red buzzwords to the point where they pay no attention to what is going on behind the curtain.

        For example my mother always votes republican for ever election without paying any attention to the candidates or what they plan on doing. She does this because republicans are "against abortion" whereas democrats are "for abortion". For her, abortion is the us vs them issue that causes her to always pick team red. Even though the republicans never actually *do* anything about abortion or even if a particular candidate is against it, in her mind she has connected republican = against abortion so that's how she votes.

        All these buzzword bingo issues are just distractions to keep you from seeing all the crap going on that you really should be caring about, and lots fall for it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 6:30pm

    ha ha ha haaaaaa

    "trying to explain to them how the lack of competition in broadband made the rules necessary"

    how many times have I warned you guys that you would only wind up bringing the very thing you were trying to avoid down on your heads by continuing to support the FCC.

    No biggie, you still won't listen. Have fun... losers! We ALL get to sit and stew in this bullshit pot because none of you will ever get it!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 7:10pm

      Re: ha ha ha haaaaaa

      Idiots posting about things they do not understand in a hopeless attempt at earning points with their benevolent overlords .... I am having fun laughing at the likes of you and your stupid idiot friends.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2017 @ 7:22pm

        Re: Re: ha ha ha haaaaaa

        I am only laughing at you guys because you all just met the fate you did not want on the very road you took to avoid it!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 3:21am

          Re: Re: Re: ha ha ha haaaaaa

          And? Are you saying things would a have magically been better if there was no attempt at all? That we should have just let our privacy be ripped out of our own hands based on promises we know won't be kept?

          Then tell me kind sir: given your logic, would the civil rights era have existed?

          True change is an uphill battle. Giving up and walking back down the hill won't do anything.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 6:48am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: ha ha ha haaaaaa

            Some people claim they would be more happy living under the likes of Kim from NK, why they do not simply move there is beyond me. Perhaps they are full of shit? idk.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 9:06am

          Re: Re: Re: ha ha ha haaaaaa

          Christ, what an asshole.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      surfer (profile), 28 Mar 2017 @ 9:44pm

      Re: ha ha ha haaaaaa

      OR, learn how they track and defend. there are no lessons here, no links to educate you. simple motivation to be unheard on the internet. it can be done, it is done, it is being done. simpletons and millenniums are lack, lazy and sadly uneducated. if you value your privacy, then simply understand how to implement it, instead of holding hands in vigil in complaint of its' violation. at this point you are belatedly realizing that YOU are the target, disclaiming, 'it could never be me!', bla bla bla.

      in an entitlement generation, it is inconceivable that my 'privacy' is actually private, leaning on, ahem, government oversight. I see alot of flag waving and postering here on techdirt, alot of 'how dare they' bullshit.. you minions brought this shit on yourself.

      its too late to fix it, its been too late for a decade, realize that fact moving forward. calling your congressman/congresswoman will do nothing but get you diatride, you simply do not have enough money.

      learn the waves, calculate your break, and get your surf. I read techdirt to follow the idiocy embracing all, its amazing.

      if you are not outraged, you are not paying attention.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 6:55am

        Re: Re: ha ha ha haaaaaa

        Every generation seems to end up attacking the generations that follow. They come up with cute names and generalizations to criticize activities and perceived actions that they themselves participated in while they were being attacked in similar fashion by their predecessors.

        Why do people do this? It is stupid, useless and only serves in making you look stupid. If you want to attack an issue, position, or otherwise - why not just do that - why attach it to some nebulous group of people who are not actually responsible for whatever you are bitching about?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 12:01am

    So unless you want trouble, no more gay midget pr0n for you.
    However, is the law retroactive?
    Can ISPs sell history data from before 29 March 2017?
    I guess you're gonna have to stick to answersingenesis.org :P
    LOL

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mike Acker (profile), 29 Mar 2017 @ 5:15am

    Also Read:

    Felony charges for 2 who secretly filmed Planned Parenthood

    reference

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/felony-charges-2-secretly-filmed-planned-parenthood-02 0232055.html


    gov't tyranny becomes more and more blantant every year.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 5:18am

    this reality show keeps getting better & better

    fake encryption products, here we come

    gets popcorn and sits back

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 6:37am

    Thank you, Citizens United.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Paul Clark, 29 Mar 2017 @ 7:07am

    So ...

    All we need is for some software developers to write an app that randomly goes out and randomly accesses millions of web sites. All a user has to do is run the program while they are browsing and we will fill the corporate browser history with erroneous data. It will be worth nothing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2017 @ 8:08am

    and dont forget the part that Ajit Pai has played in this!! he betrayed the American people while spinning the biggest amount of lying bullshit possible!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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