Congressional Republicans voted Tuesday to repeal FCC rules preventing internet service providers (ISPs) from selling your browsing history to third parties. Last week, the Republican-controlled Senate passed the same legislation, which leaves the final step”President Trump’s signing of the bill. The Trump Administration has already indicated that the President will sign off on the partisan legislation.
The bill comes on the heels of Chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon attorney, taking a number of actions as head of FCC. The slew of actions have been viewed as rolling back consumer protections and Pai admits they are directed at rules implemented at the end of President Obama’s second term.
The targeted FCC rules are part of those late 2016 actions and were set to go into effect this year. The rules required consumers to explicitly opt-in to the sharing of information about their internet usage that could include their location, browsing history, app usage, and the related content of their usage that is deemed “sensitive”.
Without the rules, the status quo of opting-out remains intact. Even if you opt-out, your ISP is still able to sell your information by making it anonymous. For example, providers may allow consumers to only opt-out of the removal of their name and address, but otherwise the information is up for sale to third-parties.
As reported by Gizmodo, the ability to sell consumer information to third parties entices ISPs to track and store even more sensitive information about their consumers. This makes ISPs a prime target to be attacked by hackers looking to steal this information and intellectual property. Even in those instances where the information is anonymized and put into the aggregate prior to sale, the information is collected without such anonymity.
Opting-out is not always easy to figure out. Here is a list of some of the more well-known providers out there:
AT&T: Click here.
CenturyLink: Click here.
Comcast: Click here.
Mediacom: Call 800.747.8021 or click here.
Sprint: Call 855.596.2397 from your cell or visit here.
U.S. Cellular: Call 800.509.6254.
Verizon: Call 800.922.0204 or visit here.