Monday, President Donald Trump signed a bill that will repeal former president Barack Obama’s internet privacy rules.
These rules were passed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last year in an attempt to give internet users more control over their data. Providers were no longer allowed to sell users’ data information without the user’s consent.
Some of this previously protected data included a user’s browsing history, geolocation and financial and medical information. This information can now be sold.
Craig Aron, CEO of the advocacy group Free Press, said, “It’s shocking that of all the challenges facing this country, the Trump administration would prioritize taking away people’s privacy.”
Much of the backlash comes from the idea that the only people benefiting from this bill are big service providers. This information can be used to create targeted advertisements, similar to the ones Facebook users see on their newsfeeds. It does not appear to help the general public in any way.
Those arguing in favor of the bill claim that major websites, like Facebook, are already selling user data and this is just the next step. However, Facebook does state in their user agreement that by using the social media one is giving Facebook the ability to use and sell their internet data to advertisers.
We at The Voice feel that selling a user’s internet data without their consent is a violation of privacy. Data should never be distributed to anyone outside of the provider unless the user agrees to the transfer of information. What one does online on their private computers is their own business.
Not only does this bill remove a sense of privacy, but who’s to say that internet providers won’t keep sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands when all they care about is selling data to the highest bidder. No one is exempt from this bill. People in power may have data from secure sites sold off without their knowledge.
This bill also has the opportunity to set a precedence for future privacy stealing actions by the government. If taking citizens data without consent is ok, what else can be justified?
We at The Voice hope that the rights of the citizens of the United States are recognized and considered more in the future when more bills and actions like this one come to light. We hope that the generous backlash from citizens is enough to make the politicians responsible for this bill and President Trump who signed think again about what the lack of privacy means.