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For sale: Your private browsing history

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For sale: Your private browsing history

Republicans failing to come up with a proper replacement for Obamacare after seven years might have been a boon for the American people. But with the House and the Senate both under Republican control, immunity from weird, invasive and inefficient laws might be too high of an expectation.

Since a few years back Wikileaks and Snowden showed the world how the NSA was tracking everyone’s online activity. But to be fair, that was done without the public’s knowledge of “national security”. But this Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the privacy rules issued by FCC last year for the bizarre reason that the rules might confuse customers.
With the House vote of 215 to 205 and the Senate vote of 50 to 48, the Federal Communications Commission’s privacy rules were officially marked as dead. This legislation will now see President Trump’s desk for his signature or veto and with the current pace of things, Trump’s advisors would recommend the signing of the legislation (as said by White House which publicly supported the legislation).

According to the rules set by FCC last year, the home broadband providers and mobile carriers would be required to opt-in on the consumer’s consent before selling or sharing their data. This confidential and sensitive data includes everything from browser history, app usage history to all sorts of other private information that might be stored in forms of BIG DATA. With the President’s signature from the White House, this legislation would allow the ISPs (Internet Service Provider) to sell and share this private information to advertisers and other companies while preventing the FCC from issuing any such regulations in the future.

The Republicans had made numerous attempts to repeal these regulations during the Obama administration with the CRA (Congressional Review Act) but were met by former President Obama’s veto each time. But with the Congress and White House in Republican grip, it is not difficult to assume the outcome of these events.

In their defence the Republicans argued for that FTC alone should enforce standardised rules for ISPs and websites. But ironically the legislation passed does not return jurisdiction to FTC, who is currently prohibited from regulating phone carriers and ISPs.

This has been the biggest blow to online privacy rules and aims at degrading capitalism by monetizing an individual’s online identity and digital footprint. The most saddening part of this whole mess might be that the companies behind this won’t even “put its name behind this effort” while lobbyists make bogus claims to achieve what they want.
The whole NSA phone tapping mess when surfaced a few years ago created a huge backlash from the public. And this is also going to be the topic of many debates. But from the perspective of the common populace, this is a serious breach of privacy that the politicians are trying to do.

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