You may have heard by now that the president wants to overturn the Obama-era broadband privacy rules, and his pick for the FCC, Ajit Pai, completely agrees. In fact, latest reports state that Pai is pulling all the strings to reverse the current net neutrality rules, hoping to repeal them by the end of the month.
Pai allegedly had a meeting with major telecommunications trade groups on Thursday, April 6, to discuss his plans about the current standing rules. What's more, apart from overturning the rules, his replacement to keep the internet "open" would be on a voluntary basis
Naturally, the victory goes to ISPs, though they very clearly state that they have never and will never sell consumer information. In a lengthy post, AT&T explains in detail how the reversal does not change any of their privacy protection and how the political issues have turned the conversation on internet privacy into a fact-free debate.
"It is also flatly untrue that the Congressional action eliminated all legal protections governing use of consumer information," stated Bob Quinn in the AT&T blog post.
"There has been a lot of misleading talk about how the congressional action this week to overturn the regulatory overreach of the prior FCC will now permit us to sell sensitive customer data without customers' knowledge or consent. This is just not true. In fact, we have committed not to share our customers' sensitive information (such as banking, children's, and health information), unless we first obtain their affirmative, opt-in consent," said Gerard Lewis, senior vice president, deputy general counsel, and chief privacy officer of Comcast's Public Policy.
Should We Be Concerned?
Perhaps the answer to the question of internet privacy will breed even newer questions in the days and weeks to come. It is natural and expected for ISPs to ease the minds of their customers by assuring their utmost respect to privacy and personal information, and for all people know, they could be telling the truth, especially since ISPs are covered by Section 222 of the Communications Act.
What's more, ISPs are just one thing to worry about, so in a way, the issue regarding net neutrality is just one hoop to jump through in the quest for internet privacy.
Still, many are concerned about their privacy and safety, and for good reason. In the age of Internet of Things (IoT), not a lot of aren't kept online. In fact, even Elon Musk, when talking about his neural net project, has mentioned that humans are practically cyborgs due to the amount of information on ourselves that we place online.
At a moment like this, when the comforts of the internet are threatened, people turn to solutions such as VPNs to protect their privacy, whether or not they have something to hide. After all, privacy is privacy, regardless of content.
Perhaps another thing that people might need to look at at this time isn't just the ISP that they use or whether or not the government will protect their information, but also the vast amount of information that we voluntarily input online.