A television star and a net neutrality activist have raised more than $200,000 that may end up funding the ACLU and perhaps lining someone’s pockets.
The pair is protesting the passage of Senate Joint Resolution 34 which blocks an FCC regulation that purports to prevent internet service providers from selling internet user’s data without their permission.
“Supernatural” actor Misha Collins raised $63,000 of a $500 million goal to “purchase the data of Donald Trump and every Congressperson who voted for SJR34, and to make it publicly available.”
If Collins is unable to raise enough money, he has pledged to give all proceeds “to the ACLU to help fight to protect all Americans’ rights.”
Also, net neutrality activist Adam McElhaney raised over $150,000 to “buy the histories of those who took away your right to privacy for just thousands of dollars from telephone and ISPs.”
Mr. McElhaney doesn’t have a plan for the money at this time, but he says he is “working with people” to make one.. or something.
I don’t have all the answers to a lot of questions right now. But I’m working with people who are assisting me in developing a fully fledged plan. I do hope that if you are skeptical, you’ll stay with me and watch.
There are many problems with the FCC rule and the big-government approach to protecting privacy that these two activists support.
First, the rule isn’t currently in effect as the FCC itself held it back.
Second, the rule hasn’t existed for the past 20 years while users have haplessly browsed the web and ISP’s don’t sell their data today. The private sector seems to have beat the government at protecting privacy.
Third, the regulation doesn’t protect user’s data. Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram and other websites are not regulated by the FCC. Social media giants have much more personal data than an ISP would ever be able to collect.
While Facebook can mine your messages for marketing information, the ISPs can’t because Facebook and others require SSL (note the HTTPS:// on Facebook, Twitter, et al.) SSL connections make it impossible for the ISP to see what you transmit or receive – they can only track what pages you visit.
Ultimately, ISP’s would never sell the data of “John Smith” to Mega Marketing Inc, they might sell a “demographic break-out of Tennessee’s online shoppers” where Mr. Smith’s Amazon.com visit frequency would be buried in some aggregated figure.
Privacy policies at Google, who does not sell personal data of users, came from the company and the community that uses their products.
Google doesn’t sell or trade your information. We’ve been pretty public about that and it isn’t likely to change. We’re in a business where we need your trust and thus we are in the business of protecting your privacy vigilantly.
If an ISP started selling the “browser history” of individuals, as Misha and Adam allege they will, the backlash would be enormous, and the class-action legal battles would come from every corner of the country. If they had wanted to sell your data, they would have been doing so for decades.
All these two activists have done is collect money for an action they know they cannot perform as there is no way to buy an individual’s website visit history from an ISP.
Browsing history is not, nor will it be, for sale by the ISP’s and these two are doing nothing to protect anyone.