Congress has passed, and President Trump is about to sign, a bill repealing the FCC’s landmark internet privacy rules, passed in October of 2016. Last year’s rules limited how Internet providers could use and sell customer data, while asserting that consumers have a right to control their personal information.
This new development will have no impact on users of the netBlazr network:
- netBlazr keeps only the absolute minimum data necessary for operations and compliance.
- netBlazr deletes older data as soon as possible.
- We do not share or sell your private data.
However, this is only true when netBlazr customers are using our network. Most consumers access the internet in multiple ways (at work, at home, in the community) so we all need to be worried, very worried.
What does this mean?
When you connect to the internet, the Internet Service Provider (ISP) that provides your connection can record the address of everyone you communicate with and everything you do. Even if the contents of your communication are encrypted, the provider must know the destination address in order to correctly deliver it. Consider this example from the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
“They know you spoke with an HIV testing service, then your doctor, then your health insurance company in the same hour. But they don’t know what was discussed.”
Should I be worried? All my data is tossed in with everyone else’s.
ISPs that promise to anonymize data before selling it to others are kidding themselves, or lying to you. With modern algorithms and computing power, it is possible to unwind just about any “anonymization” invented.
Additionally, ISPs that collect such information “purely for internal marketing purposes” are putting you at risk of exposure to hackers and/or foreign (or domestic) spy agencies. There are plenty of other “creepy things” an ISP can do with your metadata.
In today’s social media-driven world, hasn’t the horse already left the barn on privacy?
Other Internet companies (Google, Facebook, etc.) have similar access to personal data, but there is a major difference. Your relationship with Google, Facebook and similar Internet companies is optional. You can deal with the ones you trust for some or all of your transactions. If there is a search you don’t want Google to see, you have the option of using an anonymous browser window or searching via Duckduckgo (https://duckduckgo.com/). But you usually have no such choice in your ISP. Indeed, decades of broken U.S. broadband policy has resulted in first a duopoly and now a near monopoly for Internet access almost everywhere in the U.S. Even in tech-savvy Boston, it’s rare to have a choice of ISP, except where netBlazr provides that choice!
As a company, and as individual Americans, we want federal protection against privacy violations by monopoly ISP’s. The FCC attempted to provide some of this protection. Now Congress is rolling back that ruling. This is a mistake.