Should President Donald Trump sign S.J. Res. 34 into law, big Internet providers will be given new powers to harvest your personal information in extraordinarily creepy ways. They will watch your every action online and create highly personalized and sensitive profiles for the highest bidder. All without your consent. This breaks with the decades long legal tradition that your communications provider is never allowed to monetize your personal information without asking for your permission first. This will harm our cybersecurity as these companies become giant repositories of personal data.
This wouldn’t be such a big deal if you could switch your ISP to somebody else. However, according to the FCC just last year, the vast majority of US households have only one option for broadband service. This is in addition to the roughly 10% of households with no broadband at all, which disporportionately affects rural areas and tribal lands.
As the EFF points out above, this is also a huge security problem. These companies have not always been great stewards of user data in the past, and they haven’t cared due to the lack of competition. You can’t switch easily like you can on mobile broadband, where competition has driven prices down dramatically just in the last six months. Other companies are using your data as well, like Google. But, you can pretty easily avoid using Gmail if you want to. You can’t choose a company other than your local ISP if you know they have a history of data breeches. Now, they’re going to suck up all that juicy user data and make themselves even bigger targets, with no benefit to consumers and no oversight.
This is bad. Support the EFF. Call your Congresscritter.
- The FCC defines “broadband” in this use as any wired provider offering a minimum of 25Mbps download speeds and 3Mbps upload speeds. ↩