Internet privacy and money correlation

In 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence,

"He [King George III] has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance."

With Jefferson’s words, you could conclude that our country was founded on the idea that, under most circumstances, government ought to leave us alone.

Yet 241 years later, roughly 30% of the workforce is covered by some form of occupational licensing — from florists to funeral attendants, from tree trimmers to make-up artists — according to the Brookings Institution.

[Editor’s note: About this time last year, we gave you 4 Grand Slams of Nannyism that may be going on in your community.]

While on the campaign trail, Donald Trump gained popularity among business owners by blaming regulations for stifling business.

He said,

"We are cutting the regulation at a tremendous clip. I would say 70% of regulations can go. It’s just stopping businesses from growing."

Then in January, President Trump told business leaders that he believed he could cut regulations by 75% … or maybe more.

Mr. Trump told reporters at the meeting that included Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk and Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank,

"We’re going to be cutting regulation massively, but the rules will be just as protective of the people."

In at least one instance, he has followed up on his promise to cut regulations.

Whether he’s doing so while protecting us is yet to be seen.

Oct. 27, 2016: A bill to protect your private internet history

Last October, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under the Obama administration adopted regulations requiring Internet service providers (ISPs), like AT&T (T), Comcast (CMSCA) and Verizon (VZ), to do more to protect customers’ privacy.

Under the rules, ISPs would need consumers’ permission before using their location, financial information, health information, children’s information, and web browsing history for advertising and marketing.

The rule was issued on Dec. 2, 2016, and took effect on Jan. 3, 2017, less than three weeks before Trump moved into the White House.

However, those rules did not apply to websites such as Google (GOOGL), Facebook (FB), Netflix (NFLX) and Twitter (TWTR), which are governed by less-restrictive rules issued by the Federal Trade Commission.

So ISP companies complained that the FCC rule placed them at a disadvantage with non-ISP Internet companies that also collect user data.

April 3, 2017: A bill to let telecoms sell your private internet history to highest bidder

Many Republicans saw the FCC rule as a power grab during the closing days of the Obama administration. And on March 28, 2017, Congress voted to block it by using the Congressional Review Act (CRA). That’s a little-known tool that allows Congress and the president to overturn recently passed agency regulations.

Trump signed it on April 3.

Now ISPs including Comcast, AT&T and Time Warner (TWX) can sell your browsing habits to third parties who use it for marketing or other purposes.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said,

"I fear [the privacy rollback] is just a preview of coming attractions. Big broadband companies don’t want to give consumer privacy protections the attention they deserve.

"Consumers will have no ability to stop Internet service providers from invading their privacy and selling sensitive information about their health, finances, and children to advertisers, insurers, data brokers or others who can profit off of this personal information, all without their affirmative consent."

Craig Aron, CEO of the advocacy group Free Press said,

"It’s shocking that of all the challenges facing this country the Trump administration would prioritize taking away people’s privacy.

"There is literally no public support for this bill. Its only advocates are the nation’s biggest phone, cable and Internet companies. There’s no longer any question — if there ever was — whose needs this administration intends to serve. But people everywhere are on high alert to the serious threat to the free and open Internet. And they will fight back."

ISP money

The votes in Congress to repeal the FCC regulation were, for the most part, split down party lines. But money could have influenced some of them … that is, money the telecommunications industry gave directly to members of Congress.

For instance, among the top recipients of telecom money for their 2016 elections who voted for the bill was:

  • Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) — $164,100
  • Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) — $150,900
  • Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) — $128,100.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) — $110,831
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) —— $104,984

You can see how your Senators voted by clicking here. For your Representative, click here.

And for a list of how much they pocketed from the telecoms, go here.

But there are some in Congress who boasted that they aren’t in it for the money and voted for the bill …

Consider Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) who said in a town meeting that the idea his constituents pay his salary is "bullcrap."

"No one here pays me to go," he told the audience.

He pays for it himself, he said. However, he collected $174,000 in Congressional salary plus loads of perks. What’s more, he was happy to take $39,500 from the telecom industry for his 2016 reelection campaign.

So is it, as Trump would claim, that rolling back a set of broadband privacy regulations is all about stifling government overreach and too many rules?

Or is it about Congressional and powerful industry greed?

We have no idea on how much Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, Verizon, and others stand to benefit.

But if don’t like it, consider what Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) told a town hall attendee who was concerned about the elimination of online privacy protections:

"Nobody’s got to use the Internet."

Maybe Sensenbrenner’s comment supports the cord-cutting case more than ever. What do you think? Tell us in the comments.

Best,
The Uncommon Wisdom Daily Team

–>

Your thoughts on “Internet privacy and money correlation”

  1. I’m not sure about reading that chart but it looks like CMCST
    stock is up quite a lot in the last year or so. does this ruling send it even higher in the next year?

  2. Jimmy Sensenbrenner is a Big Fat Idiot who has been in Congress far, far past his useful life.

  3. Wow..just wow…
    The problem with our current regulatory environment is most regulations benefit some special interest with the exclusive intent to prevent an open and free environment. The lead-in to your article was perfect, Privacy Protection was only regulated against ISPs (wonder who paid Obama administration to not include other types of businesses). So, you (as a media source/op-ed) use inflammatory rhetoric to claim Trump is selling your privacy, when the Obama administration lame ducked the regulation in the first place (give you credit for even mentioning this fact). It’s sensationalism, like this, that is the root of the “fake news” problem. The media has to be the greatest disappointment in this generation, Congress acts as expected, but the media… We the people trusted you (them) to get it (the facts) correct. Now, it is completely transparent that the media is shrills to whatever corporation owns them and has zero interest in facts.

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  5. The ISPs provide a service that’s essential for modern life in this society, like water and electric utilities, and should be regulated in a similar way. The ISPs are in a separate business from the website providers, and so what? I don’t know of any place in the Constitution where it says that it is the job of government to make sure that some corporations make as much money as other corporations.

    Obama’s FCC rules make complete sense, but why did he wait until the end of his eight-year term to issue them? Partisan politics is such a wasteful, tiresome game and both parties play it to the hilt.

    Imagine what our elected representatives could do if their first priority was the well being of the constituents who elected them, rather than the corporate donors who buy their support ever afterward.

    As the corporate-government complex becomes more and more similar to George Orwell’s “1984,” privacy will become a commodity we must pay extra for, rather than a right the Constitution guarantees us. And that’s the plan, folks.

  6. Cord cutting has been more about getting rid of cable TV. Most cord cutters have no interest in losing their internet. If there is one issue that will bring under 30 voters to the polls it’s this one. Mess with millennials Internet addiction at your own peril republicans.

  7. I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s (the hight of the “cold war”) I clearly recall how often we were reminded of how Russia and China brainwashed all their citizens with unrelenting communist propaganda.

    When I look at our current situation, where we are constantly bombarded with “targeted advertising” from Madison Avenue, political parties, industry lobbies, and now “Fake News”, I don’t see any significant difference.

    Does anyone seriously believe that we are we still “The Land of The Free”?

  8. First off, this article is a refreshing because you are speaking about something that affects the common man in the US, not just the financially well off. This is a perfect example of how our corporatocracy works and how it influences elected officials to do the wrong thing.

    I, too, am a minimalist when it comes to regulation. But facts are facts, and without regulation we would not have cars providing good gas mileage, gas would still contain lead, and the environmental challenges of the 60’s would only have gotten worse, not better, to name only a few that have benefited the common man. What I find staggering is how Mr. Trump was elected by a thin margin on a populist message favoring the average Joe but since being elected has unabashedly pursued government of the corporation, by the corporation and for the corporation.

    Our founding fathers held that our Creator has given us certain unalienable rights that are enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights (freedom of religion, freedom from quartering soldiers, free speech, right to a jury trial, etc).

    These protected rights were enumerated for the benefit of the people (in legalese, “natural persons”) and their protection against the government. These rights were not enumerated for the protection of “unnatural persons,” a.k.a business entities such as the East India Tea Company. What would it mean for EITC to have freedom of religion anyway?

    Both political parties in the US have fallen prey to the stench of corporate money in politics and it has infringed our rights as individuals. Our politicians do the bidding of the corporations that fund their campaigns with a few notable exceptions, and this internet privacy issue is only the tip of the iceberg. It affects everything from drug and pesticide approval to Congress voting for military equipment the military says it doesn’t need or want. Sadly, it is all about money.

    This came to a tragic head when the Supreme Court handed down the Citizens United decision. The only way to rectify the situation is a Constitutional amendment that simply states that the above cited unalienable rights are granted to individuals, a.k.a. natural persons, and are not Constitutionally protected for unnatural persons, and that Congress may enact legislation as it sees fit that may restrict the rights of unnatural persons (corporations, etc.).

    As it applies to this issue, that would mean that corporations could be restricted in how much money they give to any particular candidate ($1,000 sounds about right to me). This would drastically alter the nature and length of our political campaigns, and would free our elected officials to make choices that are in the interest of “we the people.” Until this happens, they work for “we the big money sources.”

    As H.L. Mencken and others have said, “America has the finest politicians money can buy,” and that means our officials are obligated to do the bidding of the corporations that fund them. Obama (love him or hate him) was not nearly as much of a corporate pawn as Trump, though he too fell prey to their talons.

    The only way out of this is to curtail big money being spent by “unnatural persons” in the name of “free speech,” something our founding fathers did not intend or see coming.

  9. Not using the internet is as practical as not using a car, toilet paper, or a stove. FIdiots!

  10. “Nobody’s got to use the Internet.” is like saying no one needs a telephone or a car. We are not an Amish nation.

  11. “Nobody’s got to use the Internet” I like that comment. I would say we are addicted to the internet like most are addicted to drugs , porn, or alcohol. Maybe if people stopped using the internet, the consumers (junkies) would be placed back in control and the companies (pusher) would think before they do things that drive away the consumer.

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