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Posts Tagged ‘Privacy’

The GOP just voted for a law that allows your Internet service provider to sell your browsing history to anyone willing to pay for it. What on earth are they thinking? What’s the point of this?

Obviously, companies like Google, AT&T, Verizon, all the huge Internet service providers love this since there is a whole new revenue stream now going to those companies. There is no other reason on earth that would justify this. Obviously, the Internet service providers have paid off some congressmen and senators big time.

And this is the GOP, who always rants to us about privacy:

  • We can’t have a registry of gun owners, since that would be a violation of people’s privacy.
  • They have no problem not keeping a record of White House visitors anymore, citing privacy.
  • They don’t mind that Donald Trump keeps his tax returns private.
  • They want to keep research by the EPA on climate change private.
  • Mega donors to political action funds can stay private.

However, they don’t give a damn about the people’s privacy, if someone gets to make money off it:

  • Publishing our Internet browsing history, so we can be more exploited by targeted advertising is fine.
  • Publishing our emails and chat logs.
  • Publishing our health history.

Make no mistake about it. Anyone with access to your browsing history can exploit all these areas of your private lives. And now it’s for sale. And the GOP is enabling it.

I think they forgot that they are people, too. You see, for their health plan, Congress has its own and it does not have to live with the same plan the rest of us have to put up with. So they can repeal and replace all they want, and they are not affected. However, on the Internet, we’re all the same, and so are they.

There are already net-neutrality advocates who are crowd-funding initiatives to buy the browsing history of all congressmen and senators and publish it on the Internet. But that won’t quite work.

The problem is that the law will still prevent Internet service providers from selling data that can be connected to specific individuals. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 prohibits the sharing of “individually identifiable” information. However, aggregate customer information can be sold. And that’s where the rub is: There are companies whose specific business it is to match consumer tracking information with identifying details we all publish on Twitter and Facebook, and through this process it is possible to match our personal identity with our browser data.

Now the genius currently occupying the White House is signaling that Obama era regulation is overreach and he wants to tackle this. Oh boy, oh boy.

It won’t be done much legally, but you can bet that the crooks on the Internet will be doing it, and that’s where it’s going to hurt. Do I need to say “Russian bots” to get your attention?

This shows you that our government, the GOP, and Trump, just don’t know what they are doing. Yet, we gave them the keys to our lives.

 

 

 

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Regarding Facebook and Twitter, there is a side to those communities that people don’t know exist. Did you know that there are products that anyone can buy, including social services agencies and law enforcement, that can monitor Facebook and Twitter activity (and other sites) on an ongoing basis. Let me give you some examples:

Example 1: A low-income mother may go to her County Department of Social Services for welfare assistance because her husband left her and her income is now below a certain threshold to support herself and her two children. She must document her income, her need and that her husband is gone, and in many states she will be eligible for some type of assistance. However, the case worker may be checking her Facebook page and see if there are pictures of her and the children at little league games with the supposedly absent husband happy and engaged in the family life.

Example 2: A couple is in divorce proceedings and things are contested. The estranged husband could put a trace on the wife’s Facebook account to collect all posts in an effort to get evidence against her. The trace will do just that. Even if the wife posts something, leaves it there for half an hour and then deletes it, the trace will have picked it up for the permanent record. Even if it was there just for a short time and deleted right away, the husband has it recorded.

Example 3: Law enforcement trying to locate somebody when they enter a certain geographic area can put a trace on Facebook, Twitter and many other location-sensitive programs that trigger when a certain person posts something. They can identify a few city blocks and trigger for posts about keywords they are looking for. In the case of a restraining order, the presence of the restrained person in the vicinity can be triggered and an alert can be generated.

The three examples should be enough to scare you – and they are real. We’re not talking NSA stuff here. You and I can buy these products and go to town with them. Of course, most ordinary people like you and I have better things to do. But predators love this stuff.

So next time you tweet that you’re going to Hawaii for a week and then your Facebook account is filling up with pictures of the cocktails you’re sipping at Cheeseburger in Paradise, think about those predators.

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