Wednesday, March 29, 2017

How Much Are We Really Willing to Take???

Not only are we living in a materialistic world, we are now living in a dangerous technologically driven world, a world where any and everything is now for sale to the highest bidder it would seem.

The U.S. House of Representatives guts standing internet privacy laws (protections afforded by FCC Regulations).  Why? Apparently this is some twisted effort to 'remove restrictions stifling innovation'.   This sure sounds like smoke & mirrors to me.   We already have an intelligence community that has repeatedly demonstrated a gross overstepping abuse in their surveillance operations, and now we're going to further open the field to anyone interested in playing?

I'm all for innovation, but not at the ongoing expense of private citizens like you and me.  Granted no reasonable person still clings to the illusion of absolute privacy in today's tech-driven world (e.g., traffic cameras, bank ATM cameras, hospital cameras, university cameras, store and business surveillance systems, etc.), but to now have all of our personal internet transactions available for sale to the highest bidder is absolutely CRAZY TOWN!  Now my stalker can acquire my exact location, along with details regarding any of my online purchases, details such as lingerie, bra sizes, etc.  Just wonderful? I feel safer already: NOT!  Now everyone can have their own personal stalker too in the form of massive and invasive data-mining, legally collected and made available to any and everyone willing to pay for access to this information.  If anything, consumers should be able to sell their own information and reap the benefits and income thereof, instead of the other way around --that is consumers paying for service and then having their information sold out from underneath them to the further financial benefit of the service provider.

There are many ways to encourage and support innovation with regards to on-line businesses: gutting existing internet privacy laws is simply NOT one of them!  If you think the U.S. Congress is ineffective, misguided and dishonest now --politically or otherwise-- just wait until the potential for black-mailing our elected officials sky-rockets with a veritable feast of new private information hitting the 'market'.  Once this mass of private information becomes available to the general public/highest bidder, even Congressional term limits won't be able to reign back-in the limitless potential for abuse.

(*VIP!  See note at very bottom, under 3/31/2017*) I strongly urge you to write to your Senators and demand that they defeat this legislative attempt to gut our existing internet privacy laws, for I do not believe the Senate has yet to vote.  Then you might also want to drop a line to the White House, because the word on the street seems to be that President Trump would sign this F*****-up piece of legislation into law, if passed by the U.S. Senate, which really surprises me given the President Trump's ongoing aggravation with being 'spied on by the previous administration' --both during and post election, leading up to the inauguration.

If you ask me, selling out the American people IS NOT THE WAY TO "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN"!  I'd rather have a wall surrounding basic internet privacy than a full southern border wall and the former would be a heck of a lot cheaper too.

Think this legislative failure is the definitive line in the sand for me.

3/30 Here is my letter to my Senators.  Feel free to copy and use.

"Today we live in a technological society where absolute privacy no longer exists. This is something most people willingly accept, on some basic level, whether this acceptance be for matters of convenience or national security. That being said, citizens should still retain the basic right to the most fundamental privacies, as guaranteed by our U.S. Constitution, lest we willing forgo any notion that we still reside in a truly “free society.”  Members of Congress therefore have the utmost obligation to fully consider the enormous potential for abuse --in a worst case scenario enabling stalkers to quickly/easily pinpoint locations of their victims --resulting from the 'lawless' dissemination –in the absence of meaningful accountability-- of consumer's private information in the aftermath of deregulation/self-regulation, but apparently the severity of this responsibility seems to have escaped many of the esteemed members of the 115th Congress?

Historically the FCC has regulated communications companies, setting guidelines for customer/user information that can be stored and/or shared with third parties in order to protect consumers. The U.S. government made a move in the right direction when the FCC broadened its scope of coverage to include Broadband Internet Service providers (ISPs) in 2015, thereby filling a much needed void in consumer protection with respect to privacy and personal information sharing. This past week, however, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to remove the protections afforded by FCC regulations using the very weak argument that “removing regulations would encourage innovation in the on-line industry services” (e.g., product sales targeting and stream-lining user experiences). This move on the part of the U.S. Congress is truly mind-boggling. By removing the protections afforded by a top-level FCC oversight, the Congress is willfully removing the consumer's last line of meaningful protection for safe-guarding their private information, thereby placing the onerous upon the consumer to judiciously read and fully understand the ever-changing fine print of legal-ease woven into each and every consumer consent for services agreement (CCFSA). There are many ways to support industry innovation: gutting existing FCC oversight is simply not one of them! The ethical answer to “industry innovation” should rely on allowing those consumers interested in receiving a more tailored, stream-lined on-line experience to choose to “opt in” to sharing the personal information they are willing to share in any given instance. Any other other course of action is wholly unethical, lazy, perhaps financially motivated (kick-backs), and is quite frankly unacceptable.

As a citizen and a consumer, this legislation --to revoke the “firewall of consumer information protection” oversight in favor of trusting the industry service providers to “do the right thing”, with legal action in the aftermath of information mis-use being the consumer's only time-consuming, not to mention costly, recourse-- is the definitive line in the sand. A citizen's right to safeguard their private information should remain sacred despite the exponentially growing web of technological advancements our society embraces. Therefore, I implore you to act on behalf of “We the People”, the little guy, and vote NOT to rescind the FCC oversight of Internet Service Providers. Your time and thoughtful consideration of this matter is greatly appreciated."                  

As I sent my letters off to my own Senators, I wondered: do the majority of Congress-people feel obligated to only support the interests of those whose political views happen to align with their own? This despite the fact that I VOTE for candidates based solely upon their experience and past performance, regardless of party affiliation.  In fact, I voted for an equal number of Democrats and Independents, along with Republicans, in this past election.  What do you think???

3/31/2017  VIP!  Had some more time to investigate this matter further today.  After doing some research on-line: it seems the U.S. Senate has already voted on this deregulation, on March 23, 2017, in the previous week.  Pretty sneaky!?!  Did not hear anything about this until it was done deal with the U.S. House of Reps voting this week.  Just surprised me that the Senate voted before the House, but I suppose that is entirely possible as this legislation not technically a budget matter (all bills related to budget issues must originate in the U.S. House of Representatives, per the U.S. Constitution).  So bottom line: writing to our Senators won't probably won't affect a vote which has already occurred, however, writing to our elected representatives would let them know WE ARE NOT HAPPY.  This in turn might encourage them to reconsider their position on the matter and possibly even put this discussion back on the table again?  Anyway, as a last resort I did leave a message on the White House contact page in hopes this legislation has not yet been signed into law by the President.  Here's hoping the little guys actually winds up having some say in this matter!  At least with a President Trump in the White House the little guy has at least a 50/50 shot.  The odds have shifted in our favor.

4/5/2017  Well, sadly the "little guy" has lost again.  President Trump signed the de-regulation legislation into law on Monday, April 2nd.  So get ready to start reading the fine-print on all of your CCFSAs. Guess all you can do now is to choose your provider wisely, stay current on any policy changes for the latter and hope (pray?) the Broadband ISPs "do the right thing."  Sorry President  Trump, this one goes your loss column for me.

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Thanks for taking a moment to share your thoughts. I'll read them and post them soon! God Bless! M