The US President has just changed the law by removing the net neutrality rule and making it possible for internet service providers (ISP) to sell user data without customer consent.
During the weeks leading up to today, Twitter has been buzzing with unhappy, angry and disappointed users, resulting in two crowdfunding actions to buy and publicly post the user data of the officials that voted on the bill.
I can understand the thinking behind their actions and I think that most of us are not happy with the fact that this is for real. It would have probably been a good idea to first look into what data is collected and how the collected data gets used before starting crowdfunding actions. People might be putting their energy into the wrong direction. If anything, it is raising awareness of internet privacy and how important it is to protect your personal information.
What's going to happen then?
Well, one cannot legally just buy people's personal data. What happens is; your ISP monitors all traffic flows to and from their network and in that process collects data. By law this data is kept for a certain period before being deleted. In all European countries ISP’s have to keep the collected data for 6 months. Up till now internet service providers say that they value their customer privacy and that their policies do claim that they will always protect your personal information.
Who else collects our data?
Quit a lot of websites already collect your browsing history for their own use or pass it onto third party advertising networks. Companies like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn are some of the well known free services we use that collect user data for targeted marketing ads. For instance, if you are browsing Google for and buy a new camera tripod online you will for the coming time see a lot of Google ads with ‘camera tripods’. Google have also recently started what's called zip code targeting in their Analytic's 360 Suite giving a more detailed views of user data.,
Google is very clear about what they collect from its users. (from Google)
Things you do:
Things you search for
Websites you visit
Videos you watch
Adds you click on
IP address and cookie data
Things you create:
Emails you send and receive on Gmail
Contacts you add
Photos and videos you upload
Docs. sheets and slides on Drive
Things that make you “you”:
Email address and password
How does that work:
Your online activity is collected and used by marketeers with certain demographics for targeted advertising and sold to the highest bidder in the market place at that moment. The bidding happens in a fraction of a second even before the visited page has loaded.
What do they sell then?
Your ISP or other internet services do not specifically sell your personal or browsing data as in, name, house number etc as many people seem to think is going to happen with the new bill. The information shared would be general geo location, age, gender group and things like device information and in some cases possibly banking and medical information. The main difference with you ISP is that you pay for your Internet service providers services, so you would not expect them to just sell your user data, because they say that they will always protect your personal information. Are they stepping over the privacy line with this bill or is it the next step for governments making it easier to collect our information and how are these changes going to affect Europe?
Would it be far fetched to think that we will soon have new internets? Such government decisions might just spark off crowdfunding actions to start up new private internets or new versions of the surface web.
We have all heard of the dark web. The dark web is a sort of hidden internet, with world wide web content that lives on darknets and can only be accessed with authorisation and using specifically configured software. The darkweb is not only for baddies, it’s also used by military working abroad, reporters, whistleblowers and since 2014 even Facebook. People using the Tor browser can access Facebook via their OnionWeb address: https://facebookcorewwwi.onion/TorProject works.
Farfetched or not, one thing's for sure, our approach to the internet and our personal information is changing.