What does Resolution 34 Mean to Me?
The Death of Online Privacy
Tuesday, March 28, 2017 has become an historic day for Internet users in the U.S. And considering that everyone who knows how to use an electronic gadget is an Internet user, that means it’s an historic day for practically everybody. It’s the day Congress killed the right to online privacy. How? By voting in favor of advertisers, marketers, and everyone else who could potentially benefit from knowing everything you’re doing while you’re connected to the Internet.
What is Resolution 34 all about?
Technically, Resolution 34 is Senate Joint Resolution 34 (or House Resolution 230). It basically invalidates the broadband privacy regulations introduced in 2016 by the Obama administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designed to protect Internet users from ISPs (Internet Service Providers) that collect and sell their personal data.
Among other things, the FCC rule (known as “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services”) requires ISPs to let customers know that they can choose to allow or not to allow their private information to be used in any way. In other words, if a customer declines or doesn’t give his/her consent, although an ISP can continue collecting his/her data (there’s no stopping that, sorry to say), the ISP cannot share that data with anybody. This specifically applies to what is considered as ‘sensitive information’ such as the customer’s exact location; Social Security numbers; health, financial and children’s information; app usage and web browsing history; and of course, the content of messages sent and received.
Such kind of data is naturally a gold mine for advertisers who can easily bombard you with ads even just based on your browsing history alone. And it’s a source of revenue for ISPs, of course, as they can just sell your information to the highest bidder, so to speak.
We thought FCC’s rules were going to protect us against that. But with a 215 – 205 House vote in favor of nullifying those rules, it looks like our government just gave our ISP providers the green light to use our personal data in whatever way they want. Unless, the bill miraculously fails to pass.
If Resolution 34 turns into a full-blown bill, so what?
You know that feeling that somebody’s watching your every move? It won’t be just a feeling anymore. Because that’s exactly what will happen. And then some.
Maybe it won’t be as annoying as you would imagine if your information was used solely as a means to target you for marketing purposes. Although, that means your searches can probably be hijacked; instead of showing you the complete results of what you are searching for, you’ll only get the ‘edited’ version. You’ll only get to view those sites which ‘paid’ your ISP to turn up in your search results. That’s still tolerable somehow.
The problem is that there are so many worse things that can be done. At the right price, your ISP can just sell your information without any regard for how it will be used against you. And we’re talking about so much more than just marketing stunts.
What can you do to protect yourself?
For starters, you may want to lend your support to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) advocacy to ‘help keep creepy ISP practices a thing of the past’. In other words, let your voice be heard so Resolution 34 doesn’t get passed as a bill.
Second, and probably the best option you have right now: subscribe to a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that you can trust and rely on to keep all your data encrypted so that your ISP (or any other eavesdropper) won’t be able to read, understand and use it.
Keep in mind, though, that by having a VPN, you are simply entrusting your data to them instead of your ISP. Which is why we mentioned that you have to choose a VPN that you can trust and won’t sell you out.
Other safety measures include using a secure browsing extension such as EFF’s HTTPS Everywhere browser extension which secures and protects all incoming and outgoing connections to your browser so your ISP can’t see the content of the sites you visit (even if they can see which sites you go to). And as much as you can, try not to use free public Wi-Fi especially for critical transactions that require you to access your private data.
The fight to keep our online privacy isn’t over yet. In the meantime, do what you can to protect yourself.
iDoctor Believes in Technology
Here at iDoctor, we believe in a free internet. That means we want you to be able to surf the internet without fear of regulation, invasions of privacy, and being slowed down because of laws that benefit the elite.
We also believe in making sure that your technology is running properly. That means we have added IT services to our line-up. We can fix your phones, computers, and tablets, and we can also make sure that your office’s IT and networking are set up and running properly.
Need more details on our IT services? Call us at 406-534-2547 to learn more.