Congressional Republicans and President Trump just demonstrated that promises of “draining the swamp” are nothing but rhetoric. The GOP Congress passed; and Trump signed, a bill that gives giant corporations the right to sell data about your internet searches to the highest bidder.
“If the bill is signed into law, companies like Cox, Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, and Verizon will have free rein to hijack your searches, sell your data, and hammer you with unwanted advertisements,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) wrote of Senate Joint Resolution (S.J.) 34. Trump signed the resolution into law on April 3, 2017.
S.J. 34 overturns Federal Communication Commission (FCC) regulations that would have required broadband providers to get permission from customers before selling data about online searches. Here is how the EFF described its effects:
“Should President Donald Trump sign S.J. Res. 34 into law, big Internet providers will be given new powers to harvest your personal information in extraordinarily creepy ways,” the EFF’s Ernesto Falcon wrote. “They will watch your every action online and create highly personalized and sensitive profiles for the highest bidder.”
Your Search History is For Sale
S.J. 34 would allow Comcast to track a customer who used its’ internet, and keep a record of her searches. If she spent a lot of time shopping for shoes, Comcast would then be able to sell that information to Zappos, which could bombard the woman with shoe advertisements.
Comcast might also sell search data to detective or security firms. A company might buy the search histories of its employees; and fire those who visited union websites, for example.
An even worse nightmare would occur if hackers were able to penetrate Comcast’s database of tracking data. Once inside crooks might be able to learn which bank, credit cards and insurance company you use and steal that data or money from your accounts. They might even be able to spy on your family through webcams and other devices.
Nor will it be long before government agencies such as the FBI and NSA demand access to the search data; in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. With access to such search data, a federal agent would be able to learn what news sites you visit, and what politicians you support. They might even be able to track the activities of union members and activists.
Another nightmare is that foreign governments; such as those in Russia and China, would be able to hack into the databases and track the searches of their critics or dissidents living in the United States. Foreign secret police might be able to learn who is visiting the websites of their government’s opponents and target them for assassination or retaliation.
Republicans’ Complete Disregard for your Rights
Disturbingly the majority of Republicans voted for S.J. 34; despite tens of thousands of phone calls and emails from constituents. The measure also effectively deregulates searches and strips the FCC of all power to police internet service providers meaning average people are on their own when it comes to online privacy.
Trump and the majority of Congressional Republicans have revealed their complete disagreed for the rule of law, and contempt for the rights of average citizens. Instead they are once again putting corporate profits ahead of individual rights.
S.J. Resolution 34 shows us why it is so important to reestablish a Democratic majority in Congress. The governing party is interested only in serving the interests of large corporations at the expense of the American people.