The greatest problem in the world is not peace in the Middle East or the rising power of China.
It is how can privacy rules be eliminated in the United States of America.
Well, technically speaking, it isn’t a problem anymore.
Because the move to demolish Web browsing privacy rules has passed through the Congress, and the House, and now the President of the United States of America rather quickly.
And while it is true that the bill was pushed through the US Congress by the Republican lawmakers, a new poll has found something else.
Let’s just first clear out the fact that most, if not all, Democrats opposed the bill from start to finish.
The Republicans, it was thought, went full steam ahead with the proposal to kill web browsing privacy rules.
The poll says something different though.
Mainly, that an unexpected equal number of people who supported the Democratic party and Republican party approve the existing privacy rules and want them to remain intact.
That is if you believe in polls.
If you rather believe in something else then most of the debate is irrelevant to you.
What may not be relevant to you is the fact that President Donald Trump signed the repeal of web browsing online privacy rules about two days ago.
As we have explained many times before, this means that rules that were present in US law to protect US citizens will now vanish.
In a few months time that is.
Regardless, the impact of getting rid of current privacy rules could be huge.
Because these were the only privacy rules standing between ISPs and ISPs selling all user data without any consumer consent.
Current privacy rules, which will get eliminated sometime in December of this year as a result of President Trump’s signature, curbed ISPs from sharing and selling user web browsing history for commercial purposes.
But did Trump really have a choice?
After all, the bill would have never reached his office if the Senate and the House had not passed it in the first place.
Make no mistake, the issue of killing privacy rules was a partisan issue.
At least among the elected officials of the country.
The US Senate And The House Did The Major Damage. Not Trump
The vote for killing privacy rules passed the US Senate with a 50-48 vote count.
Expectedly, all senators from the Republican party voted to annihilate existing web browsing privacy rules.
On the other hand, every senator from the Democratic party voted to keep existing web browsing privacy rules.
The vote count of The House of Representatives was a bit different.
Only in numbers though.
The bill to kill privacy rules was passed with a 215-205 vote count.
As many as 14 people who supported the Republican party broke ranks and decided to support, instead of kill, internet web browsing privacy rules.
The American People Matter
Take it as you want to, but the ordinary American citizens are not actually confused about the issue.
There is no split in other words.
According to a survey carried out by YouGov/Huffington Post, it was found out that about 72 percent of people who supported the Democratic party did not agree with killing existing web browsing privacy rules.
The more interesting part about the poll is that about 72 percent of the lawmaker from the Republican party opposed the proposed rollback too.
The Huffington Post published a report which said that even identifying the new bill as a Grand Old Party (GOP) proposal was not sufficient for it to win intra-party support.
The report from the Huffington Post also said that Republicans in the Congress passed the new bill to roll back the existing regulations that would have banned the sharing of online user information.
Huffington Post report continued and mentioned that 72 percent of people who supported both the Republican and the Democratic party said that privacy rules should go into immediate effect.
About 15 percent in the Republican party and the Democratic party believed that the rules should be rescinded.
The remaining percentage from both sides answered in a short “not sure”.
Readers can go here right now to read the full results.
What Did The Poll Ask?
The poll asked a very simple question.
It asked the following things,
- About a year ago, the federal government decided to adopt a specific set of rules which banned telecommunication and cable companies from selling and sharing customers’ private and personal information like their online web browsing history without prior permission from the customers themselves.
- On the other hand, a Republican bill that Congress passed would likely reverse those privacy rules before they even go into effect.
- Which of the two above situations describe your opinion.
Just for clarity’s sake, not all Republicans and Democrats answered the question.
The poll found that about 362 people who supported the Democratic party answered the question.
While about 248 people who supported the Republican party answered the question put forward to them.
Needless to say, the support from the US citizens for privacy rules was actually greater in a question that was asked before the current one.
But that previous question did not mention the fact that there was a plan to terminate the existing privacy rules.
The people who identified themselves as either Democrat or Republican were also asked if they thought that telecom and cable companies should or should not be allowed to sell/share personal/private information about customers, such as online customer web browsing history without prior permission from customers.
To this question, about 82 percent of the people who supported the Democratic party replied that internet service providers should be barred from sharing such private and personal information without prior consent from the customers.
About 84 percent of the people who supported the Republicans said the same.
The Poll Also Found Out That Most Lawmakers Knew From Little To Nothing About The Tor Network or VPN Services.
Of course, we don’t expect the average US citizens to know each and every technology that is available to online users for privacy protection.
But some knowledge about how these things work should be a must one might imagine.
The poll found out that eighty percent of the respondents reported to be somewhat or very concerned about the privacy of user’s personal information that is available online.
As mentioned before, it is another matter that most US citizens knew nothing about how privacy works.
So how can these people vote for or against a privacy rules bill if they don’t know much about technologies that protect user privacy?
Does it really matter?
But let’s leave that discussion for another day.
The poll also asked US citizens if they had ever used such privacy technologies that are used for anonymous browsing on the internet like,
in their life.
A total of fifty-five percent of the respondents said they did not know or were not really sure what these privacy technologies were or how they worked.
If it comes as any consolation than the Democrats had more technology know-how than the Republicans.
Do People Lie?
Or maybe the Democrats were just lying who knows.
The poll found that sixty-three percent of the people who supported the Republican party were either not sure or outright didn’t know what these privacy-protection technologies were.
About fifty-three percent of the Democrats responded the same when they were asked the same question.
Readers should take note that YouGov conducts its polls differently from traditional surveys that are carried over the telephone.
YouGov’s polls, just like the rest of the polls, consists of panels.
These panels consist of people responding to questions.
And these people are just regular people who agree to participate in the YouGov online polls.
YouGov is, for its part, clear on the fact that this small set of people does not represent the entire US population.
But YouGov has a method to counter for this flaw.
What YouGov does is, it draws samples from its panel that then matches it with a random sample, which also consists of respondents answering questions, from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
At least this is what the survey methodology page says on The Huffington Post.
There is no doubt about the fact that no single poll is a perfect poll.
So let’s not debate the merits and demerits of The Huffington Post’s methodology.
But there are polls.
And then there are better polls.
YouGov, for the work it has done over the past couple of years, has made quite a name for itself in the “poll industry”.
IN other words, YouGov is as reputed as it comes.
In fact, YouGov has partnerships with publications such as The Economist for many years.
Other reputed publications such as FiveThirtyEight has given YouGov a rating of B in polls.
For those who don’t know, FiveThirtyEight regularly monitors these “poll producing” entities and then grades these poll from A+ to an F.
YouGov doesn’t have an A+, so there are definitely polls out there that are more comprehensive than the YouGov poll.
Right now though, we have little choice but to go with YouGov polls.
Do Lobbyists Matter? What About Their Donations? Do They Matter? And What Do Lobbyists Have To Do With Lawmakers And Privacy Rules?
The answer to all the above questions is a resounding yes.
Lobbyists do matter.
And that is the reason why all technology companies actively invest in order to get US lawmakers pass laws that are favorable to their company and their business model.
The donations from lobbyists also matter.
Lastly, lobbyists have a lot to do with US lawmakers.
Regardless, let’s move forward to the conclusion section.
What did the Huffington Post/YouGov poll conclude from the poll?
Well, on the issue of privacy, expectedly, the large majority of the respondents supported existing privacy rules.
Factors such as,
- Income levels
- Geographic regions
did not have an impact on how respondents viewed the issue of online privacy and existing privacy rules.
With that said, the answers to the questions put forward by the poll were different within the groups.
But do these regular people matter?
If we’re talking about the bill that eventually evolves into laws, then the regular American citizen doesn’t have a say in it at all.
So who does matter?
It should be obvious by now.
People whose answers, views and opinions really count are the people who make the rules.
The YouGov poll found the same.
In other words, the poll confirmed that the opinion of elected officials from the Republican party and internet service providers who were always ready to lobby in order to remove privacy rules counted a lot.
And just that people understand this, there was not a single Democratic lawmaker that voted in favor or removing existing privacy rules.
It is a different matter though that many of the elected officials from both, Democratic and Republican, parties had received huge amounts of financial donations from entities such as telecom companies.
How do we know that?
But the Center for Responsive Politics does.
What Is The Role Of Internet Service Providers In All Of This?
The role is simple.
Internet service providers all over the United States have a twofold strategy when it comes to spending their hard-earned money.
To put it another way, internet service providers spread their “investments”.
They put their cash to work in both parties.
Because internet service providers want to gain favors from everybody in the government.
They want to have influence over all sections of the US political body.
Therefore, it should come as a no surprise that internet service providers have rewarded, rather richly, Republicans who voted to kill privacy rules a lot more than the Republicans who voted to retain existing web browsing privacy rules.
The research group at Center of Responsive Politics said that on the House side, there wasn’t a huge different in the overall financial help received by US lawmakers who voted against or for the proposed privacy rules resolution.
But, there was indeed a gap as far as the Republican vote went.
The groups also said that Republican lawmakers who voted to terminate existing privacy rules received a financial donation of about $138,000 from the telecom industry on average over the course of their political careers.
What about the 15 lawmakers from the Republican party who voted to support existing privacy rules?
Well, they were only fortunate enough to receive $77,000 from the industry.
If we’re talking about numbers that are related to the year 2016 only, then the difference is even starker.
The research group noted a difference of about $37,566 to $21,395 when it came to Republicans who voted for and against the privacy rules bill.
Still Not Convinced That The Telecom Industry Rewards Those Who Take Its Side?
There were a total of three Democrats in the House who decided to stay away from the vote altogether.
And guess what?
These three Democrats received higher donations from the industry than those Democrats who voted against the proposed bill on average.