back to article US Senate votes to let broadband ISPs sell your browser histories

The US Senate has voted to kill privacy rules that would have prevented ISPs from selling your browser history, under the fantastic logic that mobile operators aren't under the same restriction. The vote on Thursday broke along party lines, of course, and a decision to invoke the obscure Congressional Review Act of 1996 in …

  1. Roger B

    I'm not even going to bother reading this before posting, I'll just post this article again.

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/02/03/2nd_attempt_neut_layton/

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Roger B

      "I'll just post this article again."

      Why though?

      C.

      1. Roger B

        Re: Roger B

        Because that "article" was an embarrassment to read and Andrew should be reminded his name is linked to it at every possible time, nothing Donald and his gang are doing are in the interests of not only American citizens but anyone else on this whole planet. If it doesn't put money into Donald's pocket, one of Donald's acquaintances or whichever Russian is currently holding the USB drive with his golden shower film you wont ever see it mentioned. American TV and internet access is becoming as big a joke as the current administration, severe caps, services bundled together and now your whole browser history up for sale. Next step will be compulsory adverts every 30 minutes if you want to continue browsing.

        1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: Roger B

          But today's article wasn't written by Andrew and has little to do with net neutrality. Just seems off topic.

          C.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So it's just like last month. Forgive me if I fail to see how striking rules designed for the sole purpose of strengthen the Google grip on data and haven't actually been implemented makes much difference. Calling them privacy rules is akin to calling a lower than desired increase in spending a spending cut.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Because there are things you can opt out of or avoid, and things you can't. This is one of the latter.

  3. ma1010 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    It's all about money

    Unfortunately, "Government of the people, for the Corporations and by the Corporations shall not perish from the Earth."

    Whoever has the money (corporations) gives our rulers those campaign contributions that get them elected. This will not change, and it doesn't really matter a whole lot which party is in power. Money talks, and the rest of us can either

    1) Get angry enough to vote for someone else -- except the someone else will also be on same payroll, so don't expect much change

    2) Complain a lot but do nothing

    3) Start a revolution (but once the new government is in place, see #1)

    In the long run, it's unlikely that there is anything the average person can do to help the situation. Possibly if everyone got mad enough to write their Congresscritter and complain about this vote, it might be stopped. For now. But then the FCC will still deep-six it. And before long, they will sneak the same damn thing through Congress. They always do.

    Just remember, whenever you use any of our modern electronic media, THEY are listening and taking notes, "they" being NSA/GCHQ (or whatever flavor exists in your country), your ISP or phone carrier and anyone they feel like selling/sharing everything you say or do with. There is no privacy with electronic media. None. If you want to communicate privately with someone, go into a room with them and make sure there are no electronic gadgets there. (And if you're real paranoid, remember, even windows can be a problem.) Otherwise, whenever you converse with anyone, assume THEY are listening, because they pretty much are. You can try using ProtonMail or something, but eventually the governments will either backdoor it or outlaw it, so we'll all be back to square one.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: It's all about money

      If you had said that 10 years, 90% of us would have thought you were nuts. At this point... I tend to agree with you. We're well on the slippery sloop now. Possibly beyond stopping the downward spiral.

    2. Adelio

      Re: It's all about money

      As A Brit all i can say is

      You reap what you sow, you voted in Donald Trump, now you are having to pay the price.

      It looks like he wants to run America like as private company with him as the Ceo and Owner, just do as i say. Senate, Congress, whay do i need them for I will just issue executive orders.

      I am president, The law is for other people!

      1. Jedit

        "you voted in Donald Trump, now you are having to pay the price"

        No. Only Trump voters voted in Donald Trump, but everyone is paying the price.

        1. jason 7

          Re: "you voted in Donald Trump, now you are having to pay the price"

          I thought it was the insanely democratic (ahem) Electoral College that voted him in?

          Seeing America now is like seeing the world 60+ year ago. Or watching a 45 year old who still hasn't worked out how to tie his shoelaces after all his friends worked it out 40 years before.

      2. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: It's all about money

        But this decision has nothing to do with Donald Trump?!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's all about money

      > it doesn't really matter a whole lot which party is in power

      I agree with you in principle, but in this case, the vote split along party lines, with democrats voting against.

      For what it's worth, every republican and democratic presidential candidate was anti-privacy, except for Sanders.

      1. jason 7

        Re: It's all about money

        "For what it's worth, every republican and democratic presidential candidate was bought and paid for and anti-privacy, except for Sanders."

        FTFY.

    4. mstreet

      Re: It's all about money

      You missed one option. As unpalatable as it sounds, we can stop using the internet.

      1. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: It's all about money

        There are presumably other options. Firstly try to always use https web pages or access pages via an https proxy. You could also use a VPN or a TOR browser.

    5. Chunes

      Re: It's all about money

      Get rid of that iPhone that's glued to your hand. That's what to do about it. It's amazing that so many folks (here in the US, and elsewhere) have been tricked into carrying their wallet around wherever they go.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sweet!

    This is going to make blackmailing US government officials so much easier. Where do I buy a list of internet addresses they've visited? Let's start with Jeff Flake.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sweet!

      Don't worry, once they've accumulated enough to make it worth someone's time to nick the database, the details will be available for public perusal.

  5. AdamWill

    Optional

    Don't worry! Competition will fix it!

    You know, all that competition that exists in the highly competitive US ISP marketplace.

    1. Gravis Ultrasound

      Re: Optional

      More no-nos, politicians cutting deals and bureaucrats is the wrong direction for the ISP market.

      The market will come through with solutions for those of us who value privacy. VPN providers are already offering privacy as a service.

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Optional

        Well of course, in the same way that the market has come through with solutions for the US's lack of a healthcare system.

        Under capitalism there is no such thing as 'problems', there is only market opportunities!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So who were the two Senators who skipped out.

    Just want to know. This just sounds like the old trick of voting against something once you know it is going to pass.

    Edit. Two republicans skipped out. Since one of them is Senator Paul I stick by my statement above.

    https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=115&session=1&vote=00094

  7. J.Smith

    Rule by the rich, for the rich. There's a name for that, but it escapes me just now, I must Google it.

    1. Palpy

      By the rich, for the rich --

      -- Oligarchy. But you knew that. It's Putin's fav. Now coming to a country across the pond from Blighty.

      1. mics39
        Paris Hilton

        Re: By the rich, for the rich --

        Republican senators think their favourite male enhancement products should be marketed more vigorously as part of their health plan package. (Are there female Republican senators? If so substitute appropriate toys.)

        I guess the heyday of internet was when you had to read through thick manuals to install all the fiddly bits that came on a floppy glued on the manual. Internet hasn't been the same since it became possible for women and children (meaning genral public) to join the club.

        Her because. . .

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Plutocracy, although the US is more of a corporatocracy.

  8. Commswonk Silver badge

    Plus ca change...

    Will Rogers got it right, and he died in 1935:

    Lobbyists have more offices in Washington than the President. You see, the President only tells Congress what they should do. Lobbyists tell'em what they will do.

    America has the best politicians money can buy.

    There are plenty more in similar vein, but it's simply too depressing...

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Plus ca change...

      In the interest of balance I ought perhaps to have included that fact that I doubt if the UK is any better. Bits of Corporate Britain don't seem to have over much difficulty arranging meetings with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and / or other cabinet ministers; I greatly doubt if the Taxpayers' Alliance gets the same priviledge.

      And ignoring our elected representatives is even easier, both individually and collectively.

    2. creepy gecko
      Coat

      Re: Plus ca change...

      Will Rogers got that straight from the horse's mouth.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are we sure they aren't already doing this? I get a lot of adverts for tissues, hand cream and lube.

    1. AmenFromMars
      Joke

      Hand cream? You pervert!

  10. DNTP

    Doesn't go far enough

    They also need to ban circumventing or obfuscating your ISP's attempts to monetize your browsing protect your consumer freedoms. After all if they can't sell it, you're harming a business, and since businesses have the rights of people with none of those pesky responsibilities, that's basically assault and battery on a person.

    If you have an ideological motive for wanting privacy, then you're committing assault for political gain, which is terrorism. Usage of a foreign proxy service would then be foreign terrorism which would allow the FBI and NSA to openly investigate these horrific crimes and possibly be punishable by drone strikes.

    All because a bunch of liberals want to place restrictions on our corporate citizens that own the very foundation of the world's internet.

    1. Meph

      Re: Doesn't go far enough

      @DNTP

      "After all if they can't sell it, you're harming a business, and since businesses have the rights of people with none of those pesky responsibilities, that's basically assault and battery on a person."

      The RIAA and MPAA have been banging on about it for years by equating "loss of sales/profits" due to piracy with "theft". I don't necessarily mind them hunting the almighty dollar, but the least they can do is stop contributing to the degradation of intelligence in society by calling it something more accurate.

      I mean honestly, if I could 3D print a fully working car, you bet your arse I'd download one. I'd suggest too that anyone who wouldn't is either a fool or a liar.

      1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

        Re: Doesn't go far enough

        "I mean honestly, if I could 3D print a fully working car, you bet your arse I'd download one."

        By the time this becomes reality you'll probably find that the 3D printer needs HP ink and one printed car will cost about the same as 1,000 real ones.

    2. sniperpaddy

      Re: Doesn't go far enough

      Dont forget "THINK OF THE CHILDREN"

  11. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Trollface

    Sigh--the difference between the major parties..

    Democrats seek political contributions for votes

    But Republicans offer the opposite!

  12. Herby Silver badge

    Wiretapping made legal...

    Sounds like that to me!

    If they peek at my "content" it is the same as tapping my phone, and should be illegal. But who am I?

    1. Number6

      Re: Wiretapping made legal...

      That would make an interesting court case trying it with wiretapping laws. It comes back to what I mentioned below - if you've consented to it then they can do it. They also have to get your explicit consent and give you the option to change your mind easily without other penalty (such as "if you don't consent you can't have service")

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Wiretapping made legal...

        "if you've consented to it then they can do it."

        That seems to be a fundamental difference between the US and UK/Europe. Here in the UK you can't "consent" to give away your rights/consumer protection by agreeing to Ts&Cs. That would be an "unfair contract" and at best, those clauses are null and void, at worst the entire "contract" could be struck down.

        Most of these onerous Ts&Cs will attempt to take away your rights with lots of jargon and legalese but they will, at the very end, state something along the lines of "this contract does not over-ride your legal rights", effectively negating chunks of what you just agreed to.

  13. Number6

    If it's truly for the benefit of the American People, then they should have replaced it with an opt-in scheme, so we have to explicitly allow all these people to to share our data. Of course, this would take us back to something like the old telephone slamming days, where all sorts of small print would give that consent without us spotting it.

  14. jMcPhee

    Ho hum...

    Congress is adding another set of players to what Farcebook, Google, M$, et al. have done for years. Will the big online ad companies let these upstart ISP's cut into their revenues?

  15. Doc Ock
    Big Brother

    Yikes, Phorm on steroids. You folks in the US need to get your pitchforks and torches out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Do mobility scooters have pitchfork and torch attachments?

    2. Eponymous Cowherd
      Unhappy

      Yes, Phorm....

      That was exactly my thought when I read about this. Just like Phorm.

      And it's a concern regarding the Snoopers Charter, too.

      How long before the UK Gov decides it can monetise all of that data they've trawled?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Even the illusion of privacy is now gone in the US

    When your private activities are now sold on the open market, you are no longer the Land of the Free.

    You are monitored and sold citizen.

    Be afraid.

    1. shortyAE

      Re: Even the illusion of privacy is now gone in the US

      Very true. I hope this will stop!

  17. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Level the playing field

    It hardly seems fair that in red blooded American Capitalism only the government gets to spy on you 24x7 - at least this gives corporations equal rights

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Other people's dignity for Sale to the highest bidder.

    I vote we make public all the browsing histories of all the dork senators who voted for this. There should be quite a bidding war by news agencies to get various people's browsing histories.

  19. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    and in other news,

    California sales tax records show a 100,000% rise in VPN Subscriptions.

    Don't these people have even half a brain? If they did they would know that anyone with more that that could defeat the whole plan by using a VPN?

    Oh wait, it is a ploy by the ISP's to get more revenue.

    Dear Joe Sixpack,

    As of 1st April 2017 we will be selling your internet browsing history to Ad Agencies. We have a new service where for the measly sum of $19.99/per month we can channel all your internet activity through the PRC and therefore hide it from our history collection system. Click the link below to sign up to the service today.

    Yours

    Comcast

    PS

    Does Jan Sixpack know about your frequent visits to ******.sex? We can stop her finding out for another $19.99 (+tax) per month. Click this other link to sign up for both services.

    1. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Half a brain, and...

      the ability to keep up in the arms-race that will arise between people hoping to avoid their ISP's DNS treachery and well-heeled and technically savvy ISPs devising ever more devious ways to keep MITMing them. On Comcast's budget, the can afford to suborn pretty much every CA on the planet, as just one example. Sure, sign up for a VPN, but also take a couple courses in network security so you can understand the articles about how to defeat the latest attack. You can read them via what you might think is myrandomvpnservice.com, and is actually served by Comcast, like their speedtest proxies.

  20. dbtx Bronze badge

    "innovative and cost-saving product offerings"

    please tell me those double quotes are sarcasm quotes

    please?

  21. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    VPNs?

    And next off is a ban on VPNs...

  22. poohbear

    The Wall

    We don't need no interception

    We don't need no porn patrol

    No deep suspicion in the bedroom

    Hey! Leecher! Leave my bits alone.

  23. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    How appropriate

    A Sentator named Flake.

  24. User McUser
    Flame

    Onerous

    The FCC's regulations were not only onerous, but also singled out ISPs with overly restrictive privacy responsibilities.

    Yes, NOT collecting and selling my browsing history and instead doing absolutely nothing is *such* a regulatory burden.

  25. MJI Silver badge

    Gobsmacked

    Totally unbelievable.

    I need to tell a US friend who didn't vote against Trump (not sure if abstained or Trumped) he will be for sale and it is his own fault.

    1. Kevin 6

      Re: Gobsmacked

      Do you HONESTLY believe Hillary would have been better?

      If so I have a bridge to sell you that has very low use.

  26. JLV Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    I wonder...

    Does Pai hold a lot of stock of VPN companies? Are there any such companies to invest in?

    1. creepy gecko

      Re: I wonder...

      It would be interesting to see how this affects the number of US customers VPN providers accrue over the coming weeks.

      Are the US public (outside of the IT community) savvy enough to realise this is happening, and that they can avoid the data slurp by using a VPN? Anyone in Trumpland care to hazard an opinion?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Military response

    Many people will consider this a military attack, and the ISP(s) and/or Congress can expect a military response.

    Our browsing history belongs to us, it's intellectual property that belongs to the person doing the browsing.

  28. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Gimp

    ""innovative and cost-saving product offerings""

    So that's the new BS for "We're going to pimp your browser history to whoever can afford to buy it."

    And

    "Selling your location and personal information to marketers: this is something that some ISPs do now but are loathe to admit because they fear a consumer backlash. "

    Well to slightly restate in the words of Creepy Eric Schmidt perhaps if they fear a consumer backlash that much, maybe they shouldn't be doing it in the first place?

    To our US readers, say hello to the "data fetishist," US style, for whom more data (especially yours) is good data and all data (held indefinitely) is best of all.

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