Congress has sent proposed legislation to President Trump that wipes away landmark online privacy protections. According to The Washington Post, that means removing limits from what companies like AT&T, Verizon and others can do with information like your Internet browsing habits, app usage history, location data and Social Security number. It will also reduce rules requiring providers to strengthen safeguards for your data against hackers and thieves.
Not only will Internet providers be able to monitor your behavior online: without your permission, they will be able to use your personal and financial information to sell highly targeted ads. The providers could also sell your information directly to marketers, financial firms and other companies that mine personal data — all of whom could use the data without your consent. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission, which initially drafted the protections, will be forbidden from issuing similar rules in the future.
If this alarms you as much as it does us, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has extensive resources available to help you reclaim your privacy. First and foremost is Surveillance Self-Defense: Tips, Tools and How-to’s for Safer Online Communications. Browse the section for authoritative information on securely removing deleted information from your computer, the most secure email systems, and the basics of encryption as well as an overview of encryption tools.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. You may not support their stance on all Internet-related issues, but they are an excellent resource if you are concerned with the security of your data. Their site merits revisiting whenever you want to assume more control over your online privacy and security…or just want more insight into what your options are.