The latest push in the Republican Party's effort to deregulate the country has made its way through the House. This one in particular aims to let internet service providers earn more money — at the expense of your privacy. If you're asking what data internet providers will be able to sell, don't — unless you want to be concerned by where things are going.
Thanks to rules put in place by the Obama administration, internet providers have been forced to sit on the sidelines and and not collect users' personal data. This may not seem like a huge imposition, until you learn that personal data is exactly what helps major online search engines, for example, make a lot of money of very targeted advertising. Ever notice how you look at a pair of cat-and-pizza leggings one time, and then they start turning up on every site you visit? There you go.
Your internet provider has access to the same data, and they feel like the laws have so far been unfair to them. But what's more important — consumer privacy, or the $83 billion market in online advertising? Trump will make his opinion on the matter clear when he either signs the repeal or vetoes it.
Well, now Republicans are trying to brush away those pesky laws so that the poor corporate giants can make more money off of you. Specifically, they'll make more money by taking your whole internet browsing history — including sites you visit, your app usage, where you're located, your full search history, your financial information, even your Social Security number — and selling it. It won't have your name attached, but as you've probably heard, it's possible to tell a lot just from someone's internet usage.
The thing about sites mining your data is that if it bothers you, you can easily opt out of using those websites. Well, maybe not easily for all of us, but it's a choice, and you know you're making it. With your internet service provider, you might not have many choices, and the process of switching is far more difficult than getting rid of your social media profile.
Basically, you'll be stuck with whatever privacy standards your provider decides to adhere to. You might be able to opt-out, if the providers decide offer internet service that protects your privacy — but that private service would be more expensive. Putting a price tag on privacy may seem like the exact opposite of freedom, until you remember that one of the sides in this fight is getting a lot more freedom — it just doesn't happen to be the consumer.