Last year the US Federal Communications Commission passed a set of strict privacy regulations that prevented Internet service providers from selling your browsing data to advertisers without your consent. The current Donald Trump administration is in the process of passing a resolution that will overturn this and will, may, allow Internet service providers to share your browsing data and data about your online activities with advertisers (and even with other interested parties), without your consent.
Again, whether this freaks you out, or is of no interest to you, depends on how worried you are about your privacy and what your activities are when you are browsing the Internet. If you believe you couldn’t care less who knows about your browsing preferences then you wouldn’t be bothered. But if you want to maintain your privacy and if you feel it is nobody’s business what you do online, then you will be worried, and even feel angry.
The US senators voted 50-48 in favour of a resolution that not only reverses the last year’s FCC privacy rules, it also seeks to block the agency from passing similar privacy rules in the future. Though, the resolution still is to pass the House and it also needs signature from Donald Trump, the president.
This is the reality of our times: we live in an interconnected world and technologically and logically it is not possible to completely keep your private browsing data private. No matter how hard you try, your information trickles out.
Eventually it’s up to us how private we want to be. Zillions of tools are available out there to help us maintain our privacy to at least some extent, if not completely. What we do, what we watch, how we react, this information has always been available as far as electronics go. The phone companies know whom we have been calling, who has been calling us and for how long we have been talking. Who knows, maybe our every call is being recorded? Can you be sure that it is not?
Same way, the TV networks know through the set-top boxes which channels we’re watching, which programs we’re watching and which ads we’re not skipping. Online streaming websites like Netflix study our content consumption behavior to know our preferences. The credit card companies know our shopping patterns.
Ultimately, how much of our information is shared without our knowledge, we have never known.