TechViews News …..
The media has been buzzing since the House of Representatives voted Tuesday to give Internet service providers (ISPs) the ability to compete on the same level as other Internet giants such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and others.
Those giants already collect and sell your browsing history for advertising purposes, this modification allows ISPs to essentially compete in the same manner as the non-regulated afore mentioned Internet giants.
How will it work?
If the bill passes (remember, it’s not yet law, ISPs will have the ability to collect, store, share and sell certain types of data — including browsing history, app usage data, location information, all without users’ consent. This is already being done on a massive, invasive scale by Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and others.
While the collection is not mandated, nor is it always necessary to provide connection services, they have the option to retain connection information when you go online.
There are four major ways that ISPs can collect the data.
- Deep packet inspection.
Deep packet inspection allows the ISP to go through certain packets of data that are sent across the web and data that’s used for user protection. This can also be batched together to include information like location, Internet screen name, and other meta data.
- Monitoring Internet activity.
ISPs can simply monitor the websites that users are visiting and get the information, store and sell it that way. Internet search engines already do this on a massive and lucrative scale.
- Tracking user location through mobile devices.
ISPs such as Comcast or AT&T can access user location thanks to GPS-enabled smart devices and monitor them. Smartphone retailers do this already.
- Helping out the government.
ISPs can get requests from governments around the globe for data collecting purposes, including trying to stop hacks or monitoring suspected criminals. Different governments have different laws as well as different amounts of time that they can hold onto the data.
By collecting the data from users, companies such as AT&T or Verizon will be able to target advertisements better to users, much as Google or Facebook already do. For instance, AT&T could serve up an ad for a particular brand of sneakers on its nascent advertising serving platform if it knows you’ve searched for that in the past.
A spokesman for the cable industry said many ISPs have no plans to step on their customer’s privacy, using a set of voluntary set of rules that limit them selling or sharing data. “ISPs haven’t done this to date and don’t plan to because they respect the privacy of their customers,” Brian Dietz, a spokesman for NCTA — The Internet & Television Association told The Washington Post. “Regardless of the legal status of the FCC’s broadband privacy rules, we remain committed to protecting our customers’ privacy and safeguarding their information because we value their trust.”
USTelecom CEO Jonathan Spalter said in a statement that the recent passing of the bill was “another step to remove unnecessary rules and regulations that handicap economic growth and innovation, and moves the country one step closer to ensuring that consumers’ private information is protected uniformly across the entire internet ecosystem.”
Google and Facebook — regulated by the Federal Trade Commission — dominate the digital advertising market. The rules set forth by the Federal Communications Commission that limited the ability of ISPs in the past to collect, share and sell data “unfairly skew the market” towards social networks and search engines and is an example of government overreach, ArsTechnica reports.
Consumers, as well as consumer privacy advocates, have championed the idea of a virtual private network (VPN) or other forms of private browsing to ward off some of the potential intrusions being made by the ISPs, but it may not be enough.
NordVPN’s Chief Marketing Officer Marty P. Kamden said that interest in VPNs has spiked as a result of the bill, something that isn’t unusual when privacy laws are touched or there is the potential for increased surveillance, either by big corporations or the government itself.
(Note: While TechViews News strongly suggests using a VPN for most Internet traffic, we have not made an endorsement of any particular VPN service.)
Be Safe – Backup Your Data Regularly!
And don’t forget to take advantage of our FREE subscription to the TechViews.org Newsletter. A must-read if you are interested in Internet Security.