Thursday, March 30, 2017

It’s not the common man

Yesterday the House approved a bill, already passed by the Senate, to rescind the rules saying an Internet Service Provider must get your permission before selling what they know about you, including such things as all the websites you visit. The nasty guy hasn’t signed it yet, but there is little doubt he will.

That has left me wondering whether I should be proud of the sites I visit that resist the nasty guy, even if that history might someday be used against me. That has also had me trying to figure out what a Virtual Private Network is, how it works, and if it keeps my ISP from snooping. I haven’t gotten very far in that quest (the Wikipedia entry on VPN is filled with tech jargon). A second quest might be to see if there are providers in my area who vow not to sell my data.

I’m aware there are millions of people who wouldn’t know how to deal with a VPN or don’t have an alternate company in their area.

T.C. Sottek of The Verge has a list of all 265 members of Congress who gave away our privacy. With each name is now much money internet providers have donated to them in the last year. I didn’t compute a grand total, but it looks like internet companies got what they wanted for a bargain. Buying Congress must be cheap these days.

Those active in social media know about trolls, those people who harass others with differing opinions (Melissa McEwan of Shakesville is well acquainted with trolls). These trolls depend on being able to attack anonymously. Internet privacy is highly important to them. Andy Cush of Spin reports they are extremely ticked-off that the nasty guy, someone they strongly supported, would consider damaging their privacy. Cush notes:
Incidentally, the episode is a useful cautionary tale for impressionable young Trump supporters about the Republican Party’s conflation of free-market corporatism and individual liberty in general. When you deregulate industries, it’s not the common man who enjoys new freedoms. It’s the people and organizations who already have lots of money and power–in this case, the ISPs. And when those people in power are given an opportunity to further exploit the common people who rely on them for essential services in exchange for a little more money, they’ll always take it.

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