Tuesday March 28th, 2017, you and I were sold out by the United States House of Representatives. They passed legislation rolling back rules set in 2015 by the Federal Communications Commission that prevented internet service providers from selling your personal information. The Senate had already passed their version on March 23rd.
What this means is your internet service provider can continue to sell your private information. What information are they selling to third parties?
· Web Browsing History
· Which apps you use – including frequency, length of time per use, etc.
· Location information
· And more that the ISP’s won’t tell us and congress didn’t bother to find out. (Can you believe that?)
The most egregious part of this is the internet service providers don’t have to ask our permission to collect and sell our information. We have to ask them not to!
I wanted to be fare about this issue and find out the reasoning of those who voted for this rule change. I found one reason. The argument goes:
Google, Facebook, YouTube, and others are already collecting and selling your information and congress is just leveling the playing field for internet service providers.
This is a completely dishonest argument. If you are not using Google to search, Google is not collecting your information. When you leave Facebook or YouTube, they are not tracking you and collecting all the data. You can choose to not use a specific application. You can choose to not visit a specific website. What is nearly impossible to do is choose to not use an internet service provider.
If there is only one reason being spouted by the politicians, industry representatives, and pundits and that reason is shown to be false, than what other reason could our representatives and senators have for giant corporations to be allowed to sell our private information without our consent?
Theverge.com has one idea. If you would like to know how much money your Representative or Senator was given by the telecommunications industry (for their election campaigns, of course, nothing more. You believe that, don’t you?), than you can find out here.
There are still many unanswered questions regarding this piece of legislation.
What process did the Republican leadership use to determine the priority of this legislation? The Senate has so much going on, right now. We are facing the Judge Neil Gorsuch appointment for Supreme Court Justice that is turning into a partisan battle between the parties. In late April they will have to decide whether or not to raise our national debt ceiling again. They are neck deep in the investigations into the Russians influencing our national elections last year. They have the investigation into President Trump’s accusations of the Obama administration illegally surveilling the Trump Presidential Campaign. We still don’t have a Secretary of Agriculture or a Secretary of Labor. Add to all of this, nearly one hundred federal judgeships to fill. And the President also wants them to begin the process for tax reform.
The House Intelligence Committee is also very busy with its Keystone Cops version of the Russian Election Influencing investigation. The entire House of Representatives is busy as well with very important measures to label North Korea a “State Sponsor of Terrorism” (again), and Condemning North Korea for developing multiple intercontinental ballistic missiles and “other purposes.” Don’t forget tax reform.
The point is, in the first one hundred days of a new administration (always a hectic and chaotic time), why was this particular piece of legislation pushed to the front of the line?
Are the internet service providers about to have a mass layoff if they don’t get an infusion of cash? Are they in some sort of financial trouble because the industry’s business model is unprofitable? Are they unable to be profitable unless they are allowed to sell our private information?
In 2016 AT&T’s revenues were up more than 22%. $40.5 billion.
Comcast had a Gross Profit of $51.96 billion in 2015. (2016 figures are not yet available)
Verizon says its total revenue for 2016 was $126 billion! This is down from the year before, but their profits went up!
Time Warner’s total revenue was more than $29 billion dollars. That is up more than $1 billion dollars over 2015's total revenues.
Obviously, the ISP’s are not in financial trouble and are not in need of a “leveled playing field.”
Next, we will look at top receivers of campaign funding from the telecom industry and which committees each of these top “earners” are members of.