Communications Commission and Congress on Internet Policy
May 01, 2017
“[Recently] you discussed data security, the cloud, and Congress' cancellation of the requirement that ISPs ask permission to collect personal information. As you well know, the rule had nothing to do with data security and cloud storage It was a power-grab by the liberal head of the FCC from the FTC. The FTC had brought enforcement actions in the past. Interestingly, Google and Amazon were exempted from the rule, possibly due to their close association with the Obama administration. David Bredhold, Louisville, KY.”
Thanks for your comments, David and for including your address.
“Power grab" has become a useful word to describe about any government action with which you disagree. The ruling and subsequent law was indeed about internet privacy because it allows internet providers like Verizon or Comcast to harvest and sell your browsing history to advertisers.
If any power was grabbed, it was by internet providers. The reason Google has been allowed to do this was you are if you are using their browser, permission is one of those lines in the voluminous "do you agree" statement you sign off on to download their software.
This applies to all browsers like Internet Explorer or Safari Similarly, sites like Amazon also can harvest your data you choose to go to, their websites The change is the FCC was going to classify the internet a common carrier, like TV frequencies, and regulate it.
The logic for this different treatment was while you can choose your browser or what websites you visit, it's much harder to change your internet provider. This remains controversial, and the reversal of the previous decision is a big win for carriers.
My view is the conservative position on this issue would be to favor individual rights and privacy rather than add to the number of eyes watching your internet activity.
That said, since I spoke about this an entire industry has sprung up to help anyone protect their browsing habits from scrutiny. You can use something called a Virtual Private Network or VPN, or browsers like Opera or Tor are available to safeguard your data.
Regardless, like most technological disputes, my bet somebody is going to make billions selling a solution to people who want their information kept private, making this political bickering largely pointless.