ISPs Can Now Sell Your Web Browsing History Says Senate. Goodbye Privacy.

ISPs are now with advertisers. Time for advocacy groups to rise up to guard user privacy.

There was a time when the word ISP stood for Internet Service Provider.

Now it should be changed to something more relevant.

And more truthful.

ArsTechnica seems to have come up with just the right name.

From now on it seems like it wouldn’t be far-fetched to call ISPs as Invading Subscriber Privacy companies.

Does the United States Senate even needs to get involved in this?

Perhaps they do.

Maybe they don’t.

What we now know for sure is that they don’t have a problem with ISPs selling your data.

How do we know that?

You only have to look at the voting that took place on March,23, 2017.

This might go down as an important day for future privacy-conscious generations, who knows.

Namely, the United States Senate voted to get rid of some certain broadband privacy rules and regulations which will impact the end-user in a big way.

Basically, the vote meant that ISPs would no longer be in need of consumer consent (explicit one!) before they move forward and sell (or share) web browsing data with advertisers.

But that’s not all.

ISPs can also help themselves to access your other private information and then sell those too, to, you know who.

Advertising companies along with every other kind of company that would want to use/buy consumer data.

Readers who have followed news related to privacy and ISPs invading it would know that the actual rules were official agreed upon back in October of 2016.

That was done by the Federal Communications Commission when it was lead by some Democrats.

As we know, not the Federal Communications Commission is under the rule of the Republican party.

And the Republican majority along with Republican in Congress have opposed the new rules as you probably would have figured out because of the Senate vote.

Needless to say, the Senate exercised its power given to it under the Congressional Review Act.

And essentially ensured that the Federal Communications Commission power of rulemaking would have no force or effect.

If it wasn’t obvious enough already, the Senate vote will also, more or less, assure that the Federal Communications Commission is blocked from issuing similar regulations in the future as well.

To protect yourself against spying from government agencies as well as ISPs, you need the help of a VPN service.

A VPN service will encrypt your internet traffic and hence will protect your privacy and anonymity from all entities.

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Maybe Everything Isn’t As Bad As It Seems.

Your internet service provider wants more from you than just monthly payments.

Of course one can’t ignore the fact that The House (currently controlled by the Republicans) will also need to vote in favor of or against the new measures.

Only after that, the existing rules may or may not be eliminated on an official basis.

And then there is Donald Trump.

President Donald Trump can also move in, issue a veto and as a result preserve the existing privacy rules.

But will he do that?

Should we expect Donald Trump to safeguard the interests of consumers?

There should be no doubt about the fact that the trio of The House, Senate, and President Trump make a powerful foe/friend.

If President Trump and the House support the Senate’s vote, then internet service providers will be free.

Free from seeking any kind of approval from customers before they share their web browsing record.

Add to that web browsing history and other types of private information as well.

With whom you ask?

You already know.

The hundreds and thousands of marketing agencies around the world.

Let’s not forget advertising ones either.

What Was The Vote Count?

The Senate vote was, on official count, 50-48.

That should tell us that there was at least some form of resistance from members of the Senate against abolishing existing privacy rules.

Needless to say, the lawmakers in the country stayed true to their parties and voted unanimously along party lines.

Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said after the Senate vote that president Trump might be outraged by the fake violations of his own privacy, but every American citizen should be alarmed by the very real violation of their privacy which will probably result from the Republican lead roll-back of existing broadband internet privacy protections.

This latest Senate measure against consumer internet privacy was introduced by Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, about two weeks ago.

Along with that, there were 23 other Republicans who co-sponsored the Senate measure.

So what did Flake want from all of this?

Apparently, he was trying to protect the consumers.

After the introduction of the new measure, he said that he was just trying to protect consumers from overreaching Internet regulation.

Let’s not talk about how there should be from no to very little internet regulation.

Let’s talk about Ajit Pai who is the current Chairman of Federal Communications Commission.

He recently argued that consumers and end-users will definitely get confused about privacy rules.

Mainly that there is another set of privacy rules for internet service providers and another set for technology behemoths like Facebook and Google.

Pai told lawmakers from the Democratic party that American consumers should not have to be lawyers or engineers.

And that they could not be expected to figure out if their information is protected or not.

More Democrats And Republicans Voice Their Opinion On The Senate Vote

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, argued a couple of days ago that the existing privacy rules hurt job creators and stifled economic growth.

He also said that the Federal Communications Commission privacy rulemaking methodology was flawed.


Because it involved the government picking winners and losers.

He went a bit further and said that FCC’s rulemaking was among the many harmful rules and regulations put forward by the Obama administration at the last moment.

Who Are The ISPs And What Do They Want?

Internet service providers want to invade your privacy.

A little while ago the answer to this question was pretty obvious to anyone not living under a rock.

ISPs were simply internet service providers.

They connect people to the vast world of the internet.

Many Democrats along with consumers advocates believe that this is starting to change.

And understandably, are furious about it.

During the floor debate a couple of days ago Markey said that the acronym ISP now stood for something else.

Something else like information sold for profit.

He also had another suggested acronym.

That ISPs stood for “invading subscriber privacy”.

In other words, there is no room for Internet Service Provider as an acronym for ISPs.

But apart from that, Markey also raised a couple of valid points.

He said that the Senate vote was detrimental to progress.


Because the new Senate action would effectively allow broadband providers like,

  • Comcast
  • AT&T
  • Charter
  • Verizon

to arrest any semblance of control away from the end user i.e the consumer.

After that these same broadband providers will relentlessly collect data on their users.

What Do ISPs Do With Your Collected Data

The final step is, of course, so sell that data to advertising companies.

So what kind of sensitive data/information are we talking about here?

Nothing serious.

Just private information like health records along with financial ones.

Markey also said that the type of information these ISPs would collect will also include information about children.

In a wider perspective, the ISPs want to draw a map of their users.

They want to know where users along with their families shop.

Of course, information about where the children go to school is also pretty valuable.

The ISPs will then sell this information to data brokers Markey said.

Markey ended his comment by saying that ISPs will not only sell user data to advertising companies.

No, they won’t.

In fact, they are likely to sell user data to anyone who wants to make a profit off user data.

A VPN service will encrypt your internet traffic and hence will protect your privacy and anonymity from all entities.

IPVanish is the VPN service that we recommend because it is the best in the market when it comes to privacy and speed.

You can sign up for IPVanish by visiting the official site. Click here.

More Senator’s Remarks

Will Donald Trump stop advertisers from exploiting user data?

Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida, said that the potential consequences of the Senate vote could be significant.

He said that home broadband providers could easily know when a user woke up each day.

All an internet service provider had to do was to know the time each morning a user logged on to the internet to check the weather or something else like news in the morning.

ISPs could also track users through any other connected device in the user’s home.

While debating during the Senate floor a couple of days ago, he also said that a provider might know immediately if the user was not feeling well assuming the user decided to peruse the internet like most of the people do today to get a quick check on their symptoms.

He further said that broadband internet provider could potentially know more about a user’s health along with any reactions to an illness than the user might be willing to share with his/her doctor.

With so much information just sitting there waiting to be collected, ISPs can know a lot more about each of their users.

Senator Bill Nelson continued that pointed out that home broadband providers could also build a user profile about a user’s listening and online viewing habits.

To top that up with more traction, mobile broadband providers could know how the user moved about during his/her day through information about the user’s geolocation and internet activity through the user’s mobile device.

All of this means that there is a ton of data that internet service providers want to get a hold of.

And then profit from.

What Do Consumers Want?

As you can probably imagine, consumers would not want their ISPs to sell their personal data to advertisers.

Not matter how philanthropic the intentions behind “selling data” may be.

Nelson further added that ISPs could potentially have landed on a gold mine of data which could be compared to the holy grail to speak.

He said that it was no wonder that internet broadband service providers wanted permission to sell user information.

Not only that, it seems that ISPs want to sell that information to the highest bidder without consumers knowledge.

Let’s not even talk about consumer consent.

Furthermore, these internet service providers also want to collect and use information on their customers without providing any sort of transparency or accountability.

Who Will Hold Internet Service Providers Accountable?

The fact is, most of the consumers in the United States of America don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to internet service providers.

At least that is what Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, thinks.

He told reporters that consumers might be in a bit of a bother in the coming months and years.

Because consumers might be left without any choice.

He said that users would either give up their web browsing history for an internet provider to sell to the highest bidder or have no connection to the internet at all.

Of course, most of the consumers would go with the former.

Moreover, Wyden said that the Federal Communications Commission rules did not stop internet service providers from making a lot of money from customer data.

The current rules simply state that internet service providers simply have to inform the user/consumer about how their user data is utilized.

After that, they only have to get the customer’s consent and then sell the most sensitive kind of data to someone who offers them money.

Advocacy Groups Could Play An Important Role

Perhaps the only positive aspect about this whole Senate vote thing is advocacy group activity.

About four days ago, advocacy groups such as,

  • ACLU
  • Free Press
  • Demand Progress

managed to get 90,000 petitions and then delivered them to the Congress.

The petitions were mainly about saving user broadband privacy.

The Only Problem Advocacy Groups Have Is That They Aren’t Fighting Senate Alone

Internet service providers are just one of the players who are trying to force senators to get rid of privacy rules.

Let’s not forget advertising lobby groups as well.

They also want senators to kill any rule that may protect user privacy and data.

One of such groups goes by the name of NCTA- The Internet and Television Association.

It recently came out with a statement and said that the association appreciated the Senate vote that was held a couple of days ago.

The statement further read that Senate’s action to repeal unwarranted Federal Communication Commission rules which basically denied consumers regular privacy protection while they were online.

The cable lobby group also said that current FCC rules violated competitive neutrality.

Finishing up the statement, the group, pointed out that the cable industry remained committed to offering high-quality services that protected the privacy and online security of the personal information of their customers.

A VPN service will encrypt your internet traffic and hence will protect your privacy and anonymity from all entities.

IPVanish is the VPN service that we recommend because it is the best in the market when it comes to privacy and speed.

You can sign up for IPVanish by visiting the official site. Click here.

Zohair A. Zohair is currently a content crafter at Security Gladiators and has been involved in the technology industry for more than a decade. He is an engineer by training and, naturally, likes to help people solve their tech related problems. When he is not writing, he can usually be found practicing his free-kicks in the ground beside his house.
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