Internet Privacy and Net Neutrality

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While many of you may think that you are secure on the internet, none of you are. How many of you have a Gmail? How about a Google plus or a twitter account? YouTube? These programs are tracking you. Public law 115-22, passed on April 3, takes privacy protection to a whole new level. On December 16, 2016, the Obama administration and The FCC (Federal Communications Commission), passed a law relating to “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services”, or FCC 16-148. While you can feel free to Google that, it’s a 72-page document, so I’ll just give you the gist of it. This new law protected Net Neutrality and customer privacy. Internet Service providers such as Verizon now had to protect their subscribers from cyberattacks, report any cyberattacks, protect their subscriber’s privacy, and could not sell user data. Consider this: you pay for Internet. You don’t pay for Google or Twitter. Google and twitter’s services are free. Google only makes $32 dollars off you. If you had been willing to pay just $32, you could get Google without trackers! But in the early 2000’s, the consumers decided that they didn’t want to pay for internet services. So, websites like Tripod (The precursor of Myspace, which was the precursor of Facebook, etc.), started placing ads on their pages. This worked great for a while, up until some executive decided that they could make more money if they targeted specific users. (Ad Networks pay-per-click, which means the more clicks on an ad, the more the website makes.) And so tracking was born! But back to Public law 115-22. No only does this law remove online privacy protections, but it also means that ISPs no longer have to report cyberattacks, so your passwords, Social Security Number, and more could be compromised, and Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Bell, or whatever ISP you use, wouldn’t even have to tell you! And guess what? That data that ISPs now have access to means that they are making even more money by selling your data that you pay them to acquire. Not to mention, Net Neutrality is down the toilet as well, which means that the internet could be more like a TV service, where you pay for individual sites, or websites like Netflix would have to pay to deliver their content to customers on that ISP. So what can you do? You can sign my petition, or talk to your local congressman. And to protect your data, you can sign up for a VPN like Tunnel Bear, or use TOR, i2p, or freenet. You can also look for a green lock on the upper left hand corner of your browser to ensure that the site that you are browsing is secure. But most importantly, you need to stay aware of what you are sharing online, and who you are sharing it with. And remember, your data isn’t yours anymore when it’s on the Internet.

 



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