Everyone was agape when the new rules and regulations regarding internet privacy were announced in the U.S..
As per the new rules, all your browsing history was allowed to be shared with any third party provided it paid the highest dollar to the ISP.
Companies like Comcast, Verizon could earn a stinking amount of profit with an estimated annual pay of UDS 35 billion or above! And that is some serious money!
In the midst of such mess with privacy, companies like Sonic and Monkeybrains are like the silver lining in the dark clouds gathering overhead.
Sonic and Monkeybrains are some of the few companies that have publicly opposed the repealing of internet privacy rules.
Monkeybrains had stated “one of the corner stones of our business is respecting the privacy of the customer”.
Jasper, the CEO of Sonic had gone on record saying, “We have a long history of differentiating ourselves that way”.
Sonic with around 100,000 and Monkeybrains with approximately 9,000 subscribers have assured their customers that they will not put up their subscriber’s information, or usage data in the open market.
Major internet providers like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T have agreed to play as per the “ISP Privacy Principles” which depend on the guidelines given by the Federal Trade Commission. However, unlike the Obama-era you will not be asked for your consent before the browsing history is put up for sale.
Apparently, the ISP’s do not consider your browsing history as sensitive information and thus are in favour of the older FTC guidelines where your browsing history might be collected and shared without your permission.
So what does your ISP know about you?
Well, a lot. Your name, address, and plethora of other information like your social security number. They even know the websites you visit, how often you visit them, when do you visit them. So, they might not know you on a personal level but then that’s not really necessary.
With the above mentioned information at their disposal, you are more or less an open book with your social, political, sexual inclination in front of their eyes.
And now possibly, in front of a third party too!
“We or our advertising partners may use anonymous information gathered through cookies and similar technologies, as well as other anonymous and aggregate information that either of us may have to help us tailor the ads you see on non-AT&T sites”.
They elucidate the policy in the following manner, “For example, if you see an ad from us on a non-AT&T sports-related website, you may later receive an ad for sporting equipment delivered by us on a different website. This is called Online Behavioral Advertising, which is a type of Relevant Advertising.”
Companies like Comcast are claiming that the new rules will have “zero effect” on the privacy protection offered to the customers.
On the other hand, Consumer Advocates and Democrats’ lawmakers are arguing that the primary protection to the privacy of the customer has been removed.
The Republican lawmakers are justifying their position by underlining the fact that the rules which have been repealed had favoured web giants like Google over ISP’s.
Meanwhile Sonic remains firm on its stand. “We don’t believe that telephone companies should listen to our telephone calls”, Sonic’s Jasper explained how customers perceive their internet providers. “Carriers are in a different position, and that position is a trusted position in the minds of consumers.”
Jasper further added that ISP’s do not share the conditional approach to service like YouTube or Gmail do – where their customers receive a free service in return of the ”implicit” permission to keep track of customer’s online activity.
This isn’t a topic that’s going to go away, and no matter what Trump and his followers extol as reasons, the fact is we’re becoming unwitting pawns in their hands, and it is only through conscionable providers and services like Sonic and Monkeybrains, that we’re going to be able to maintain a modicum of our privacy.
Such a world we’ve suddenly voted ourselves into!
Also published on Medium.