Sara Smith

Client Services Coordinator

Congress Nullifies Broadband Privacy Rules

Repeal of Obama-Era Broadband Rules on Internet Privacy

Sara Smith

Client Services Coordinator

In 2016, Congress signed a bill meant to protect internet users' private data by requiring ISPs to obtain consumer consent before selling user data to third parties. However, this bill wasn't meant to go into effect until October 2017.
The 2016 internet privacy rule from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) called, "Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunication Services" which would have required internet service providers (ISPs) internet, cable, and mobile providers to obtain permission from their users before collecting personal data such as browsing history, location data, app usage data, and content communications and selling it to advertisers or other third-party entities.
But in March 2017, the US House of Representatives and President Trump signed a new bill that will nullify the privacy rule from ever going into effect. As the user, this means that nothing will change. ISP's will continue to be able to collect information to share or sell to other third parties as they have before. Because of this law, internet service providers like AT&T, Verizon, Charter Communications and Comcast will remain unchanged and continue to collect, share or sell data without user permission. This is the same as other services like Google and Facebook that already harvest this kind of information.
Neither of these rules had any effect on Google or Facebook, where they do not require user approval to share information. They assume that because you use their services that you automatically consent.

Ultimately, nothing is changing. But what can you do to be more private?


Check 'Opt out' options

Opt out options are still available, you can contact your ISP to find out more about the kind of data they collect, and ask if you can opt out. Also, be on the look-out for emails from your Internet service provider allowing you to opt out of ad-targeting programs. Additionally on targeted ads, you will see a triangle icon with the letter ' i ' [  ] that clicking will allow you to opt out from receiving targeted ads.
It's not clear that opting out will prevent ISPs from collecting your data to use but just opting you out of seeing ads.

Ever notice "Ads by Google," "Sponsored Links," or the AdChoices icon as you browse the web, use an app or watch a video? Advertisers can use Google AdWords or Google’s DoubleClick ad platform to show you ads like these. In addition to seeing ads based on the types of sites and apps you visit, you may also see ads based on your interests and more.


Install a VPN (virtual private network)

This software will encrypt your data on the internet leaving your computer or phone and make it impossible for your ISP to collect. You can also start removing and choosing not to save cookies. Those little pieces of data sent by a website and stored on your browser can keep tabs on everything you do on a site. Additionally, you can choose to turn on your browser's do-not-track feature as well and turn off location-based ads on your smartphone.