Political news is dominating our attention and the significance of the issues at stake warrant this priority. However, hidden by concerns for the legitimacy of the last election are decisions that I think should have generated a very negative reaction.
Voting along party lines, both the Senate and the House, have voted to allow your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to sell data based on how you use the Internet. The Republicans argue that this opportunity opens up new economic opportunities. While this may be the case, the ISPs already charge you for access to the Internet and it now seems likely barring a Trump veto that they will also be allowed to sell information derived from your online behavior. This and the FCC rollback of net neutrality have clearly prioritized business interests over the rights of users.
So, just to be clear, the telecommunications industry which is already very profitable can now make more money off users without improving the quality of service (quality that is below what is available in many countries).
In my opinion, the logic politicians advance to support these changes is flawed. The “free market” logic that companies should be able to do what they want and customers will move to different companies if the customers do not feel their needs are being met has been used to justify health care and online opportunities. Reality is that few customers really have the opportunity to choose among options. There is also the issue of whether or not essential services should be the focus of business. Does a profit motivation assure quality service and fair treatment?
Senator Al Franken who has been active in other addressing other important Internet issues has promised to address this problem. I wish he would have brought attention to this issue several weeks ago, but I suppose the shaky state of the country demanded that other issues receive attention.