While We Were Watching Russia, Republicans Stole Our Internet Privacy

Don’t look now, but while the nation was watching the Trump – Russia scandal as well as the dead-before-arrival Obamacare “repeal and replace,” Republicans in Congress sold us out and stole our Internet privacy.

As noted in this space before, the Trump administration is a head-shaking-story-a-day controversy pump. This allows some of the more nefarious actions by the Republican-controlled Congress to get through with very little attention. With volcanic-sized eruptions a constant in the new administration, advocates and consumer groups have trouble keeping up—exactly what Republicans are counting on.

In the waning months of the Obama administration, regulations were put in place that would require the expressed consent of any Internet user before their personal browsing history and other Internet movements could be sold to a third party.

Makes sense, right? I think most people believe it’s wrong for an internet provider to collect and sell private browsing information. The problem is this Republican Congress doesn’t care what people want on this issue. Not unlike on other issues, they sided with media corporations which paid millions to lobbyists to push the privacy rules rollback. It’s unconscionable.

My congressman, Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) was upset, to say the least.


The Washington Post reports, “The industry, Republican FCC commissioners and lawmakers said the [Obama regulations] were too broad and should be limited to highly sensitive data, such as personal medical information, not data gathered from activities like online car shopping. The rules, they said, would cause consumers to miss out on customized promotions. And, opponents said, the threat to privacy was overstated — a provider might learn that a person visited a website but would not typically know what the person did while there.”

Sure, that’s it. People want to be able to get in on things like car promotions so bad, they’re willing to give up their privacy rights. And those customized ads? Yeah, we need those really bad too.

The Republican Senate passed the rollback first

There was no public debate on this one; no explanations as to why we needed to surrender our privacy. Quite the contrary, according to published reports, Republicans waited until the Congressional fog of “repeal and replace” descended on the nation that Republicans put their secret plan into action.

While House Republicans twisted themselves into pretzels to pass a health care bill just about everyone—including all Democrats and ultra-conservative Republicans—hate, the theft of internet privacy was carried out.

Sad. Pathetic. Deceitful.