On Tuesday, by a vote of 215-205, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would undo a number of internet provisions that were put into place under the Obama administration. That same measure was passed by a vote of 50-48 in the Senate last Thursday. In the House, 212 of the 215 votes for approval came from Republicans (with 14 GOPers voting against it). In the Senate, the 50-48 vote went straight party line, with the Republicans passing it there as well.
Not at all surprisingly, the measure is expected to be signed by President Trump, and the end result could well have an impact on everyone reading this. Now, let me preface this by saying there's a definite hive mind mentality in the tech world. And there are certainly times when you're told the sky is falling and it's not. However, this is not one of those instances.
Here's what the FCC rule repeal could mean for you, guy/girl currently using the internet, who probably has a porn site open in a different window at this very moment.
First off, what the repeal means is that internet service providers no longer are prohibited from selling the web history of a customer for profit. Under the Obama administration ISPs weren't expressly barred from selling that history, but they at least had to ask their customers if they could do it, and couldn't punish them for saying no. Now, according to Mic, ISPs can track users with little transparency, charge customers more for privacy, or even refuse service to those who don't agree.
The vote was a major win for ISPs, who had previously argued they were disadvantaged by sites that already collected personal data, like Google and Facebook. Now major providers can sell the online databases of their users (internet searches, what sites you click on, etc.), as well as your precise geolocation, health info, financial info, and even the content of emails/messages, for the purpose of ads and marketing. Opponents of the measure argued that if internet-ers didn't like Google they could switch to Bing or some other search engine. But now it'll be virtually impossible to opt out, especially in areas with only one or two ISP options.
Let it be noted that, before the rules were changed in October of 2016, service providers could actually already do this.
Anyway, the White House said in a statement that ISPs would have to acquire "opt in" consent from their customers to utilize/share info they gather, but they also said websites don't need to get that same affirmation.
So what can you do to prevent it? We mean, besides going to a doctor instead of self-diagnosing on WebMD, or laying off the jimmy whacking?
This might seem like some definite overkill, but Kevin Mitnick, a famed hacker who wrote a whole book about being invisible online, has a list of the best things you can do that even has a chance to be understood by a big dumbass (me). Those include finding an encryption service, encrypting your email, masking your "true IP address" using Tor, and setting up burner accounts.
If it's good enough for Edward Snowden to hide revelations about the NSA, then it's good enough for you to hide...whatever it is that you do.
If you need more explanation on those tips—which you definitely do if you're actually going to try them—give this a link a shot. Otherwise, best of luck keeping your previously private thoughts out of the hands of some pricks in an advertising firm.