Repeal of internet privacy protection puts personal information up for sale

Information could be worth trillions of dollars

The repeal by Congress of internet privacy protection is drawing both concerns and praise.

The internet privacy protections were approved by the Federal Communications Commission in the final days of the Obama administration.

The rules, which had not gone into effect yet, would have required internet providers to request your permission before collecting and selling personal data.

“With net neutrality, at the end of the day, it is all about money,” said Steve Noll, a marketing professor at Madison College. “We’re talking not billions of dollars, but potentially trillions of dollars on consumer spending.”

Internet providers will be able to track users’ activity and location, create a profile and then sell that information.

In doing so, businesses could target market advertisements to individuals interested in certain products and services.

“The idea of doing this would be to move the commercials you are not connected to and get them out of the way, and replace them with products that you have a personal connection to,” says Noll.

Of concern are who the information will be sold to, how it will be used and the security of the data.

“We have to trust the internet companies to protect our privacy and to protect our data, and not get hacked,” Noll said.

A solution does exist to prevent the tracking of internet activity by providers.

“This one is a relatively easy solution. There are things called web VPNs,” said Mike Masino, internet security instructor at Madison College.

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, can be subscribed to and allows you to avoid accessing the internet through your provider. Instead, you connect through the VPN.

“All of your traffic is encrypted going to a site and then basically you can browse from that site. So nothing can be tracked there,” Masino said.

The repeal of the internet privacy protections will require a signature from President Trump. The White House has previously indicated “strong support” for the repeal.