Why Congress’s rejection of proposed FCC data rules will not affect your privacy in the slightest

“The Internet is buzzing this week over a House vote Tuesday to permanently bar proposed FCC regulations regarding data collection and use first published in December from taking effect,” Larry Downes writes for Forbes. “The rejected regulations were a radical departure from policies enforced by the Federal Trade Commission since the dawn of the commercial Internet. They would have required ISPs—and only ISPS—to obtain affirmative consent or “opt-in” from every individual user before colleting and using information for any purpose, including the placement of contextual advertising.”

Downes writes, “Congress was right to disapprove them.”

“But just to be clear, the net impact on your privacy of this action, assuming President Trump approves the resolution, will be absolutely zero,” Downes writes. “In part, that’s because the proposed rules never took effect. They would have applied only to ISPs, moreover, who currently do little advertising. Congress’s disapproval does not authorize ISPs or anyone else to ‘sell’ customer data or investigate your web browsing history. It does not represent the ‘death of online privacy.'”

“Even if the proposed rules had not been rejected, however, they would have had no effect on how data about your web browsing and other interactions with content providers are collected and used. Instead, the proposed rules would have only limited efforts by ISPs to enter the market for Internet advertising,” Downes writes. “That’s a market increasingly dominated by just two companies: Google and Facebook. As a new study from eMarketer noted earlier this month, Google now accounts for over 40% of the $83 billion digital ad market and nearly 80% of total US search ad revenues. With the two incumbents firmly in control of Internet advertising , the FCC’s proposed barriers to entry for new entrants, like similar efforts to keep Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and other sharing economy services from competing with established transportation and hotel companies, made no economic sense. Which is why Congress has now moved to reject the proposed rules permanently.”

Tons more – including “why are media reports getting this story so wrong” – in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote earlier, “Google’s loss of influence over the U.S. federal government is a Very Good Thing™ for competition.”

This does not, of course, preclude the need for a VPN, especially on public Wi-Fi.

We use TunnelBear’s VPN service (especially while using public Wi-Fi) and they offer unlimited data for $49.99 billed yearly which is less than $4.17/month.

Privacy 101: Why you need a VPN – March 31, 2017
Congress to US citizens: Online privacy isn’t dead, those who want it will just have to pay for it – March 30, 2017
U.S. Congress sends repeal of FCC broadband privacy rules to President Trump for signature – March 29, 2017
Congress votes to repeal FCC Internet privacy rules – March 28, 2017
U.S. Senate votes to overturn Internet privacy rules – March 23, 2017

Under President Trump, Obama ally Google may face policy setbacks, including roll back of so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – November 18, 2016
Google’s Eric Schmidt wore staff badge at Hillary Clinton’s ‘victory’ party – November 16, 2016
WikiLeaks emails show extremely close relationship between Clinton campaign and Google’s Eric Schmidt – November 1, 2016
Congress launches investigation as Republicans claim Obama had ‘improper influence’ over so-called ‘net neutrality’ – February 7, 2015
Eric Schmidt-backed startup stealthily working to put Hillary Clinton in the White House – October 9, 2015
Google outfoxes U.S. FCC – April 17, 2012
Consumer Watchdog calls for probe of Google’s inappropriate relationship with Obama administration – January 25, 2011
FCC cites Android ‘openness’ as reason for neutered ‘Net Neutrality’ – December 22, 2010


  1. The Left has already been instructed by Big Fake News that the Republicans are taking away their privacy.

    No amount of facts will change their mind, outrage, or IQ…

    1. They are as sheep, all critical thinking skills lost in a maelstrom of bitterness and deceit over November 8, 2016.

      And tomorrow, Donald Trump will still be the 45th president and The Clot will still be cracking open another bottle of Chivas Regal in the forests of Chappaqua.

      1. You are fooling yourself if you think that people on the “right” are really so different from people on the “left” of the political system. And you are ultimate fools if you truly believe that leftists are somehow inferior as a group in terms of IQ, reasoning ability, independent thinking, etc. If you consider the left to be your opponents (and you clearly do), then underestimating them is unwise.

        Your attitudes are so annoying that you drive people away from you towards the left. I am a moderate, but I must admit that every time that you post your alt right rants I can feel a force pushing me to the left, like the universe is trying to balance out your incredibly skewed viewpoints and massive egos by creating an opposing group.

        I won’t let that happen. Moderation, as the Greeks determined long ago, is the best path. But it does seem foolish for people that profess to feel so strongly in their cause to take actions that strengthen their opposition. And make no mistake, Trump’s election victory will end up hurting the right far more than Clinton’s loss hurt the left. The Democrats are already recovering from the loss and Trump and some of his cronies may end up in a lot of trouble, depending on how the Russian stuff ends up. They sure are acting guilty…

        Circling back to an earlier thought… The fact that you consider the left to be your enemies is both sad and telling. It is sad because you are saying that at least half of Americans are your enemies. It is telling, because it clearly reveals your sick mindset. If this country implodes, it will be because of people just like you.

          1. “Thursday on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow said there was still a “possibility” President Donald Trump and his campaign were innocent of accusations of being in cahoots with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign and that this may not take down the Trump presidency.”

            ol’ Madcow is “mellowing” after being hit with a defamation suit from Judicial Watch’s Klayman…she may end up with a red MAGA cap on-air lamenting, “Hey, Make America great again, just don’t throw my happy ass in jail.”


        1. “… you are saying that at least half of Americans are your enemies.”

          Any Democrats and liberals who deny and try to overturn The Constitution ARE my enemies. And I have no qualms stating that.

        2. People that don’t identify as either left or right are given short shrift by analysts, and this is a troubling oversight. Ordinarily, there are pools of voters who are habituated to vote for one of two candidates based on ideology or regional interests. These are the core voters. Swing voters are influenced by trigger issues, which can be brandished by either party to capture them. Independents are the gremlins of the system, mavericks that foul the analytical machinery of the pundits—in order to be understood, these voters require much more detailed analysis than is usually considered worthwhile in a dominating two-party system, except to consider the drain factor.

          Then there are the non-voters. Typically these are rural, underprivileged, poor or chronically unemployed; they also include disillusioned boomers and vacant millenials. They don’t usually come out to vote, not bothering with selecting the lesser of two evils, either of whom would make little difference in their lives. Put up a paradigm-smasher like Donald Trump, though, and this underclass comes to life at the polls—responding to a message of hope and change.

          These folks voted for Trump, got him into office, and now, instead of blaming them, we need to consider their needs and wants. Our perception of the wisdom of their vote is less important than our need to accommodate them, to take them seriously, to treat them as fellow citizens.

      2. Do you ever wonder how many logins some of the leftist idiots on this site have just to vote several times??
        I mean it is so OBVIOUS when everything else has less votes combined.

        But I guess since they are used to doing it at the voting booths….

        1. The voting system is banjaxed and indicates nothing. I long for the old days when people had to make an actual effort, even if only to post a “plus-one” to indicate a favourable response. These clicky internet voting systems have degraded statistics as a body of knowledge, creating misleading impressions of mass sentiment, for example devaluing MLB All-Star balloting by seeding heavy regional biases, and in MDN’s own polls which suggest conclusions poisoned by a complex cocktail of cohort biases.

        2. Is it possible to be dumber? Only the terminally stupid could come up with such an arrogantly self-delusional rationale for negative votes. You can vote without logging in dumbo..
          In the simplest terms…it’s the silent majority who post nothing other than a downvote. No conspiracy. No voting bots. In other words – Nobody. Likes. You.

          1. Ahh, that so nice. You just explained how the system can be rigged and then something stupid all in the same statement.

            Maybe you’ll get 60 up votes!!!

      3. Heh little botty – you really need to stop sucking your thumb, it’s stunted your growth.
        So, allowing the US communication_global_companies to bribe 265 Republican(only) senators, to get the vote you want, is an outstanding example of “draining the swamp”?
        Poor Stockholm Syndrome suffering ‘trumpettes’…”They are as sheep, all critical thinking skills lost in a maelstrom of triumphalism and deceit since November 8, 2016.”
        Doesn’t anyone in the Trump circle-jerk crowd do irony? Can they even spell ‘mendacity’? Do they possess a scintilla of critical thinking genes, that is a mark of intelligence?

  2. “They would have applied only to ISPs, moreover, who currently do little advertising.”

    The above is the key phrase. Isp’s Will either start doing a LOT of advertising or, just sell all of the information wholesale.

    What bothers me is they don’t say weather this history is tied to your name. That’s important as this would actually be an invasion of privacy and most likely a breach of hipaa requirements.

    You don’t need to be liberal to have concerns about this. It effects all of us.

    1. BINGO! We have a winner.

      This article is such BS. With this, ISPs without opt-in will be able to merge your online data with your account data and sell that wholesale.

      I’m not so worried about ad banners being served from Comcast. What I am worried about is Comcast selling my data to 3rd parties who will direct mail market and telemarket me incessantly.

      That’s just the marketing. There are also negative consequences to data being sold to agencies for all kinds of use… hiring, finance, insurance, etc…

      The bottom line:
      There is absolutely no user benefit whatsoever to having ISPs even collect this data, let alone being allowed to sell it to 3rd parties.

      Who exactly was asking Congress, “Hey, let ISPs collect and sell data about us to 3rd parties, without even asking us first!”?

    2. Yes, very carefully weasel worded. The vast majority of ISPs will not do advertising even if Trump signs this. What they will do is see another source of revenue comprised of selling the information about your Internet traffic.

      Hell, Google does very little direct advertising of its own with all that information it gathers! Google sells the information it has gathered to advertisers and others then sells advertising *space*. Any half decent weasel wording wonk like the author of this article can spin it to say that Google does no advertising.

      Can it be tied directly to your name? Absolutely. By rescinding the original rule and putting no restrictions subsequent restrictions in place (and further claiming the FCC has no jurisdiction to do so) ISPs can tie your Internet traffic history to everything they know about you with 100% impunity. They can sell that information to any organization who wants to pay for it. They can sell your name, address, Internet history, your billing history, your level of service, the peak hours you’re online, etc., etc. at will. Hell, even Google typically does not have that level of detail about its users.

      Remember, while most people think of targeted advertising with this information being sold, it does not have to be used for advertising. There are much more nefarious uses that such detailed information can be put. (Think of it like… It’s the end of the first day of a three or four day weekend. The user has not been online since the start of that weekend when they are usually online for several hours every day. They are likely away for the weekend. — Just think of who might pay for such information.)

  3. “Two big corporations are already invading your privacy. Of course, they are companies you can refuse to do business with, while still having Internet access. Therefore, we should allow ISPs, who often have regional duopolies or monopolies, to invade your privacy even more thoroughly.
    And, since they haven’t thoroughly invaded your privacy yet, there is no need to pass any rules forbidding them from starting to do this. We make this argument despite having just said that they _SHOULD_ start doing this, because destroying users’ privacy even more thoroughly somehow makes things better for users.
    Also, when we actively cancel a rule that would have prevented an ISP from invading users’ privacy, we fatuously can make the argument that we didn’t change anything, because we think people are stupid enough to buy that.”

    Seriously, talk about lack of critical thinking. This entire opinion piece reads like some fantasy-land garbage.
    If you _like_ Republicans, you should be outraged by this action. They voted to hand billions of dollars to a company you are _paying_ for service from by allowing it to start silently selling you out.
    If people (like me!!) have a problem with what Google and Facebook are doing to destroy people’s privacy, the answer is to work on stopping _that_, not making things worse.
    An analogy:
    “Hey, not fair! Someone gave spears to some of the monsters eating our people. Should we stop the monsters? NO! Here’s what we should do – give throwing weapons to ALL the monsters eating our people! Yeah, brilliant! Now it’s a level playing field! Yay!”

    1. 1. EFF is heavily biased in favor of privacy. Not that this is a bad thing, but it certainly influences their opinions
      2. This is a FUD piece, as evidenced by the frequent use of non-definitives like ‘could’ and ‘maybe’.

    2. And what ‘creepy things’ do they mention that Google, AT&T, Verizon, Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung, et al haven’t been doing for a bunch of years now? Android devices have been littered with Malware, Spyware and every other kind of ‘ware’ for a good 8 years now. Steve Jobs refused to let Verizon pin their emblem on the original iPhone or let them stick any kind of crappy ‘wares’ on the homescreen from the very beginning. That was purportedly one of the main reasons negotiations broke down between Apple and Verizon. Google had no problem bowing to the carriers with Android. Indeed, we all know that Google spys heavily on all of us.

    1. Schumer and Pelosi made it very clear that the dems would obstruct EVERYTHING that came from the WH and/or republicans. So why is this news? It’s politics as usual- not a single republican voted for Obamacare either.

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