Since President Donald Trump took office on Jan 20, he and his administration have done a number of contentious things. Arguably, the most contentious among them is his signing of the Internet Privacy Bill, which allows Internet Service Providers (ISPs) across the U.S. to sell consumer data.
Seen as a direct rollback of internet protection laws introduced in the Obama era, Trump’s Internet Privacy Bill removes all previous FCC limitations on ISPs to sell consumer data. What this means is that ISPs can now legally sell consumer data to third-parties, even without users’ consent.
How The Internet Bill Affects You
In other words, there is nothing stopping your ISP from selling your personal data, browser history, geo-location and any other sensitive data to the highest bidder, such as law enforcement or digital marketers and advertisers seeking to tailor ads according to their online audience.
“When we use the Web, we are so vulnerable. There are things that people do on the Web that reveal absolutely everything, more about them than they know themselves sometimes. Because so much of what we do in our lives that actually goes through those left-clicks, it can be ridiculously revealing. You have the right to go to a doctor in privacy where it’s just between you and the doctor. And similarly, you have to be able to go to the Web.” – Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web.
But what far-reaching implications will Trump’s bill have on the online privacy of internet users? To what extent will ISPs store and sell the data of consumers and who will this data be sold to exactly? These are just some of the questions that internet users in the U.S. are asking these days.
After President Trump signed the Internet Privacy Bill into law, many digital rights advocacy groups called it unconstitutional, explaining how it violates consumer rights by promoting the sale of consumer data without user consent.
But there are some U.S. states that seem to have taken matters into their own hands.
10 U.S. States Repeal Trump’s Internet Bill
The rollback of internet privacy seems to have triggered a trend across the United States, as 10 states have already called for state legislative action in a bid to protect consumer data from ISPs. These states have proposed counter-legislation to protect consumer data from predatory businesses.
As recently as April 5, Bob Duff, Senate Majority Leader in Connecticut, called for measures to counter the federal rollback of Internet privacy. Duff’s announcement came less than a week after the House Cybersecurity, Data Analytics & IT Committee of the state of Illinois endorsed two privacy measures on April 30 to bolster consumers’ Internet privacy rights.
Following Illinois’ footsteps, other states like Montana (Apr 3), Maryland (Apr 3), Washington (Apr 3), New York (Apr 4), Wisconsin (Apr 4), Connecticut (Apr 5), Kansas (Apr 6), and Massachusetts (Apr 7) all proposed their own legislation to make it mandatory upon all ISPs operating within these states to seek the explicit consent of customers before storing or selling their data to any third-parties.
While these 10 states have taken matters into their own hands, there are many other states that should follow suit and take stern action against Trump’s bill in a bid protect personal data of internet consumers.
The Return of Pay-For-Privacy
Privacy now comes at a price, as many internet users are looking towards DNS servers and VPNs as their first line of defense against ISP intrusion. As a matter of fact, VPN services have seen a huge rise in subscriptions and online queries ever since the HJ Res 86 issue, followed by the Australian Data Retention case.
Seeing how Australians recently celebrated “National Get A VPN Day” after the signing of the Data Retention Law, perhaps Americans have taken a leaf out of their book by seeking a VPN for the USA themselves.
About the Author: Anas Baig is a cyber security journalist who covers cyber security & tech news. A computer science graduate specializing in internet security, science, and technology, he is a security professional and a writer with a passion for robots, IoT devices, and cars. Follow him on Twitter @anasbaigdm, or email him directly by clicking here.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.