This week The House of Representatives voted to repeal FCC Rules which prevented Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) from selling your personal browsing information without your permission. Last week the repeal passed through the Senate as well. What the FCC previously imposed prevented ISP’s from being able to sell your information without first gaining your permission (opting-in) to do so, but also has many limitations. With the repeal of these rules there are essentially no limitations and companies DO NOT have to ask you, you must ask them to stop (opting-out). To add insult to injury, there will be rules put into place to forbid the FCC from putting in similar rules in the future. Awesome (insert sarcasm)! So why does this even matter?
Apps vs ISPs
Let’s be clear…right now anything you do on the internet can be tracked by SOMEONE. For instance, when you first sign-up for a Facebook or other social media accounts, there are a few agreements which you have to check a box for in order to use their services. The average person doesn’t read past the first sentence or two, and many more don’t read anything at all. It’s now in our nature to just check the box and keep it moving. When you do this, often times you are agreeing to many clauses that you have no idea about, and many that you could care less about if you did read them. Some of these clauses do not prevent you from using their apps or websites, while others limit what you’re able to do with their services. Despite this, you have the power of choice! The choice to allow the companies to access this information, and the choice to limit access to certain information. Either way there’s a give and take, especially to use any “free” services like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. I say “free” because it is free to you, but these companies make millions, if not billions from your “free” use of their services.
What’s the big deal?
Well now the ISP’s will have the same ability to sell the information they gather while you’re using these mostly free services, via the internet access that you already pay them for! Not only that, but unlike the individual apps and service providers, your ISP has access to ALL of your internet browsing history. When you use Facebook, Google and Snapchat do not have access to your browsing information. When you buy something on Amazon, Wal-Mart does not have any information on you visiting or purchasing anything from Amazon’s site. Your ISP does! Your ISP, whether your home internet or your mobile phone, has access to every app and website you visit which requires you to use the internet. The argument put forth for repealing these Privacy Rules is that companies like Google and Facebook have an “unfair” advantage over ISP’s since they are able to use and sell the information they gather. Take a look at your phone now and count how many apps you installed that did not already come on your phone…ok don’t count now, it will take you longer to count than it will to finish reading this! Those 100’s of apps most individuals have, especially millennials, only have access to the data you provide within those apps. They do not have access to each other, but your ISP has access to all of them!
What can I do?
The Alchemist, By Paulo Coelho, is about a Shepherd Boy named Santiago who one day decided to follow his dream. Not just a dream of what he wants to become, like becoming an astronaut or fireman, but an actual dream he received in his sleep. In this dream a young child led him to the Pyramids of Egypt, and was in the process of taking him to the location of a treasure. Santiago received this same dream twice, and each time he woke up before finding the treasure! With this dream and his love of traveling as a shepherd, he decided to take a chance and go after his "Personal Legend". A Personal Legend is something you have always wanted to accomplish, even as a child! Ironically, the Pyramids of Egypt was one of the first places I wanted to visit as a child, so I was reeled in immediately.
Throughout the story Santiago meets many new characters, all of which give him advice and suggestions on how he should or should not approach his dream, and live his life. However, one of the main driving forces was his dream! No matter what others may have told him, whether positive or negative, the dream and his focus on achieving the dream, kept him on track.
"When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it."
Akeem The Dream
I enjoy discussing and learning about technology, stocks, sports, and beating my wife at Dominoes! As I learn, I love to share with family and friends so that we can share our knowledge. Thanks for being apart of the journey!