What the rollback of internet privacy protections means for you

Congress voted to let ISPs sell your information

BALTIMORE - You check your email, go shopping, watch videos and look stuff up. All of those private things you do on the internet could soon be for sale, and you have no way to stop it.

"The company that's giving you your internet service is going to be able to sell your web browsing history to marketers and other people that want it," said Computer Science Professor at Johns Hopkins University, Avi Rubin.

Congress voted this week to wipe away regulations, and give internet service providers, or ISPs, the ability to collect, store, share and sell data about what you do on the internet, without your consent.

It’s still not 100 percent clear how the move will impact consumers.

"Presumably, the information is being used to do marketing, so for example, if you go and look up things that relate to golf, you're going to start getting ads for golf equipment," Rubin said.

Basically monetizing your online activity so advertisers can target you.

Rubin says everyone should be very concerned about this rollback because it represents a very strong shift towards a lack of privacy. Many people will be personally affected, and it could become a slippery slope.

"The concern that I have is that if there is not enough of an outcry about this, they'll take that to mean that they can get away with that, and the government will then come in and say well what other privacy can we take away," said Rubin.

If you're concerned about the relaxed privacy protections, there are a few things you can do. Experts say for a fee, you can get a virtual private network, or VPN, set up. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic, so there's no way to tell what you're looking at. You can also contact your Congressman or Representative and let them know how you feel about the pending law.

The legislation still needs to be signed by President Donald Trump to take effect, something he is expected to do.
 

 

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