California Lawmakers Allow ISPs to Keep Selling Your Data
It looks like Californian phone and cable companies have for now succeeded in killing the Californian Privacy Bill that was supposed to give internet users more control over their internet privacy. On September 15, 2017, the California Senate shelved the proposition to restore the privacy protections that Congress had stripped earlier this year. Now that we know the outcome, let’s take a closer look at its effect on state citizens.
The Bill That Could Have Protected Your Privacy
California’s Broadband Privacy Bill, A.B. 375, was introduced in June by Assemblymember Ed Chau after the Trump administration had decided to cancel American’s internet broadband privacy protections. A.B. 375 was aimed at restoring those protections for residents of California.
The proposed bill would have required broadband providers to get your opt-in agreement before they can collect, store or use your personal information. In other words, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would not have been able to track your browsing activities, collect your information and use this data to target you with ads without your consent. The bill would have prohibited ISPs from limiting their services if a customer refuses to give his consent. ISPs would also have not been able to charge you with a penalty, offer a discount or any other extra benefits whether you decide to provide your consent or not.
As fair as it sounds to all the internet users, Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, T-Mobile and other broadband companies were doing everything they could to fight the proposed legislation and persuade state legislators to kill the bill. According to Ernesto Falcon, who is the Legislative Counsel at the EFF (the Electronic Frontier Foundation), this was a bill that broadband giants never wanted to see live and breathe. Not surprisingly, many of them, including Google and Facebook, joined broadband service providers in sending a letter to the state Senate, saying the bill “will have serious effects on consumers and businesses.” They also claimed that A.B. 375 could make the internet users vulnerable to cyber attacks, although they could not explain how this would happen.
Contrary to these statements, the Californian Privacy Bill would have prevented ISPs from tracking your browsing habits and collecting metadata and searches making it harder for hackers to target you online. With A.B. 375, the ISPs would have fewer opportunities to gather and share your personal information, meaning you would be exposed to fewer online security risks. It is simple as that: no data collection, no target for hackers; no target for hackers, nothing for them to intercept.
So What’s Next?
Now that the broadband privacy protections are rejected, it is not completely clear what to expect. While some see no changes coming, others are afraid their private data is going up for sale. However, one thing is clear – without A.B. 375 Verizon, Comcast and other California ISPs can now legally track your browsing activity and sell that information to the highest bidder. All this – without asking your permission, because well – from now on they are not required to have one.
Not only this may result in seeing well-targeted ads everywhere you go on the internet, but also makes you vulnerable to cyber-attacks. In order to build a targeted profile of you, ISPs need to store that information somewhere, and such massive databases are an extremely attractive target for hackers.
So if you are among those concerned with your privacy in times of loosened regulation, a reliable VPN service is one of the security tools worth to consider. Although VPN is not a cure-for-everything, it helps to enhance your privacy and general internet security. Our VPN service redirects your Internet traffic through an alternative route, getting around ISPs and avoiding tracking and logging your information. This way, you take back the power to control your browsing preferences however you like, without ISPs watching your every step.