If you're particularly concerned about your family's internet privacy, then listen up: New legislation has been passed that gives private companies a lot more access to your personal information. But can internet providers sell your kids' browsing habits? It doesn't seem legal, but the measure is just one (presidential) signature away from being the new standard.
Having already passed in the Senate, the House approved the legislation on Tuesday, giving Internet Service Providers (ISPs) more power than ever. The 215 to 205 vote fell along party lines for the most part, and now, all it needs is a final signature from President Donald Trump — one that he's expected to provide.
The new provisions are actually an override of previous rules, ones that, Gizmodo explains, "would have required ISPs to get explicit opt-in consent from customers before selling their sensitive data, including web browsing history and app usage data." Now, devoid of these rules, users are completely vulnerable to whatever ISPs choose to do with their browsing data. Under the previous provisions, "children's information" was specifically protected. Now, any user is fair game.
One example, provided by Dallas Harris, an attorney specializing in broadband privacy, explains how the selling of children's browsing data would hypothetically go down. If a device exclusively visits children's websites, then companies are able to "infer that this tablet then belongs to a child," and adjust their advertising as they see fit. "The level of information that they can figure out is beyond what even most customers expect," she warned.
Something a little more concerning than targeted advertising? One's geolocation. With the new deregulation, companies can sell a user's location, including the location of — yep, you guessed it — the user's kids. Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson explained, "Your mobile broadband provider knows how you move about your day through information about your geolocation and internet activity through your mobile device." Thus, the repealing of pervious restrictions "will take consumers out of this driver’s seat and place the collection and use of their information behind a veil of secrecy."
For parents concerned about their family's privacy, these new moves are bad news. Once the measure is signed, no consent will be needed for ISPs to sell "precise geo-location, financial information, health information, children’s information, social security numbers, web browsing history, app usage history and the content of communications." The aggregation of this sensitive material spells danger for parents who don't want their kids' information for sale to the highest bidder. Obama-era measures allowed for opting-out. Unfortunately, that's no longer an option.