Letter to Congressmen on Rescinding FCC Oversight of ISPs

3/30/2017 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 privy, 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 (e.g., in a worst case scenario enabling stalkers to quickly/easily pinpoint locations of their victims) resulting from the 'lawless' dissemination of consumer's private information in the absence of meaningful accountability which the FCC oversight provides. In the aftermath of deregulation/self-regulation this important 'firewall' of consumer protection will be eliminated, thereby putting consumers at risk, but apparently the severity of this situation, along with congressional responsibility to prevent revocation of this protection, 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???

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