Day 70: Protect Your Online Privacy!

Congress just sold your privacy.

DAY 70 ACTION: Take steps to protect your privacy on the Internet.

Credit: Flickr/robjewitt (from a 2011 Science Progress article, written by Michelle Spektor).

“After awhile you learn that privacy is something you can sell, but you can’t buy it back.” -Bob Dylan

On Tuesday, the House disapproved an Obama FCC rule that would have required Internet Service Providers (think Comcast and Verizon) to get your consent before sharing or selling your browsing history or your financial and health data. The Senate already voted to kill the rule; now the disapproval heads to the White House.

The measure only passed the House by 10 votes; all Democrats and 15 Republicans voted to protect privacy. And Trump supporters are asking him to veto this bill (which he is unlikely to do).

Critics of the FCC rule said it wasn’t fair to restrain ISPs when websites like Google and Facebook are allowed to mine your data. (The FCC did not have authority to regulate websites; that authority sits with the Federal Trade Commission.) But if Congress and the Administration took privacy concerns seriously, they could regulate both.

This NPR story had suggestions for protecting yourself, since Trump won’t help: 

1. If there is a Triangle I on your banner ad, the company is tailoring ads based on your browsing history and offering you a way to opt out. Take it!

2. If you have a smart phone, turn off the location tracking unless you need it.

3. iPhones let you clear your ad ID if you don’t want applications to track you.

4. Use the Do Not Track feature on websites (this link shows you how!).

5. Sign up for a Virtual Private Network (VPN), for $5-10 a month, to encrypt your data.

Today’s Action: Protect your privacy online! Explore at least one of the suggested options today. Then, tell your friends to do the same!


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