Consumer Privacy Bill Causing Internet Stir
A Bill Headed To President Trump's Desk Creates Internet Privacy Concerns
A consumer privacy bill heading to President Donald Trump’s desk is causing as much concern as it is confusion.
Experts say the bill’s intent is to break up the dual regulating power of the FTC and FCC.
It also opens the door for internet service providers, or ISPs, to sell browsing history for marketing advertisement purposes.
What does that mean for you?
Vernon Brown, Vice President of Marketing and Member Relations at SDN Communication said to think of the internet as a library.
“Imagine the librarian looking over your shoulder, writing down every book, every magazine, every piece or document you look at. That’s essentially what this bill will allow you to do in today’s modern day library, the internet,” said Brown.
Critics worry the bill is an invasion of privacy, selling away what you look at on your devices.
Should individuals be worried?
“It’s not supposed to be down to the individual person, saying this person went to this site. It’s supposed to be all packages together and sold as demographics, as regions of the country and packaged up for marketers,” said Brown.
All of the attention is on internet privacy.
Brown, however, points to another issue: Phone calls.
He explained that as calls move away from traditional lines to what’s called voiceover internet protocol; phone conversations could just as easily be tracked.
“How that might be used by government agencies, law enforcement agencies probably also is a privacy factor in all of this,” said Brown.
Hacking still remains the key threat.
Brown warns against feeling a false sense of security.
“You should never make the assumption, anyway, when you’re on the internet that it’s completely private because it probably isn’t,” said Brown.
(UPDATE 3/31: Sen. John Thune confirmed with SDN Communications legislation would not change the privacy of phone call records traveling over the internet (VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol). Government officials would still need subpoenas for that.)
There are several options if the privacy concerns are still there.
VPNs or Virtual Private Networks can be bought that encrypt your activity.
Also, ads can be opted out by clicking on icons on the top corner of ads on a web page.
Brown also recommends avoiding sites “you wouldn’t want your mother to see.”
Rep. Kristi Noem, Sen. John Thune and Sen. Mike Rounds voted in favor of the measure.
President Trump has indicated that he plans to sign the bill.