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Privacy The Internet

Rights Groups Push For Strong Broadband Privacy Rules (reuters.com) 29

An anonymous reader writes: A coalition of rights groups has sent a letter to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission asking for tougher privacy regulations on providers of broadband internet services. The letter was sent by the ACLU, the EFF, Public Citizen, and over 50 other groups. "Critics say broadband providers are already harvesting huge amounts of consumer data for use in targeted advertising, the groups wrote. 'This can create a chilling effect on speech and increase the potential for discriminatory practices derived from data use,' the letter said." FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said such firms need to ensure their data is protected, and that consumers should know more about what data is being collected, but he hasn't addressed whether the data should be harvested in the first place. He expects the FCC to review these practices "in the next several months."
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Rights Groups Push For Strong Broadband Privacy Rules

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  • Better to push for better privacy equipment to protect us from the toothless "rules"

  • by WhiteKnight07 ( 521975 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @01:50PM (#51337505)
    HTTPS is the only real answer. Rules like what are being proposed are hard to enforce. But properly implemented authentication and encryption will make such rules unnecessary.
    • HTTPS is the only real answer.

      I doubt that very much [schneier.com]

      And note the irony in the last question in the link

    • HTTPS is the only real answer. Rules like what are being proposed are hard to enforce. But properly implemented authentication and encryption will make such rules unnecessary.

      Nope.

      HTTPS is necessary, but woefully insufficient for protecting your privacy. Even with everything encrypted, your ISP still knows what sites you connect to - they do route the packets, after all.
      Would it be OK if which ads are displayed on your TV to be affected by which sites you visit? And "you", of course, includes anyone in your household and your WiFi guests. Which snail mail adverts are sent to your billing address or service address? Or, in general, whether or not your name appears on various

      • And all this assumes that the spying agencies aren't in bed with the ISPs, etc.
      • by Agripa ( 139780 )

        Provided that you also encrypt DNS and the IP address is not associated with only one domain name, if you use HTTPS then the only thing the ISP will know is what IP you connected to and anything traffic analysis would reveal. TLS (transport layer security) protects all of HTTP.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    'Privacy Rules' are used by certain businesses and industries as a way to avoid reporting details.
    They sound good, but are always leveraged for predatory business practices.

    For example, there are now privacy rules about buying a used car at a dealership. The dealership is not allowed to give any info about the prior owner, or what the owner did with the car (maintenance, repairs, recalls, etc.).
    But the dealership can advertise the car as 'Certified Used' and claim to offer the service records and repair his

  • Ive opted out of every option on Verizon's Customer Privacy Settings page. Yet I still get this nice readout every month that shows what I used my data on.

    "Please note: Data Utilization categories are an estimated representation of how data has been used. Data Utilization does not reflect actual amounts of data used and does not match billed usage for data roaming, delayed usage and similar billing charges. Data Utilization does not identify specific websites, applications or URLs.
    Categories
    Video 67

    • That is because every ISP keeps track of every site you visit. Although they say "does not identify specific websites" what they mean is that they don't break it down TO YOU by specific websites. They just know that if you are sending traffic to/from *.facebook.com you are doing "Social Media". "Youtube" goes into the Video counter, etc.
  • Damn straight (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @02:27PM (#51337825) Homepage Journal

    I'm a Verizon cell customer. They added an opt-out "feature" where they'd track all web traffic, so I opted out. Six months later, I found through a news story that they'd silently added another opt-out tracking feature which didn't obey the earlier misfeature's disable flag. So now I pay Verizon for my phone data, and pay a VPN service for the right to browse the Internet without my own damn ISP spying on me.

    No, I can't easily switch providers - my family's phones aren't all AT&T-compatible, and T-Mobile doesn't have good coverage in some of the places we visit often. But more to the point, I shouldn't have to.

    I offer another proposal to Chairman Wheeler: allow the carriers to choose between common carrier status (with all its legal protections) and, what, data portal status maybe (with zero liability protections for transmitted content). If Verizon, Comcast, et al want to snoop traffic, then they should be legally on the hook for the content of that traffic. If they don't want to be liable for every possible copyright violation or prohibited content flowing through their network, then they damn well better choose to be dumb pipes.

    • I offer another proposal to Chairman Wheeler: allow the carriers to choose between common carrier status (with all its legal protections) and, what, data portal status maybe (with zero liability protections for transmitted content). If Verizon, Comcast, et al want to snoop traffic, then they should be legally on the hook for the content of that traffic. If they don't want to be liable for every possible copyright violation or prohibited content flowing through their network, then they damn well better choose to be dumb pipes.

      I agree whole-heartedly. However, this uses an incorrect assumption. The assumption being that we still have a functioning republic with a just legal system. We don't, it's been usurped and the big boys just make up the rules as they go.

      Once you understand that, the problem is this: given the option they'll gladly choose to be a "data portal". Of course, they won't be held liable for *every* possible copyright infringement or prohibited content that flows through the network, only the content deemed by

  • Here's the letter [consumerwatchdog.org] that was sent.

    A different FA [techcrunch.com] has some comments and/or speculation on how some ISPs are (ab)using customer info.

  • Are they saying its OK for the government to collect data on you if you use dialup? How come privacy does not extend to those users?

    • If I had to guess, I'd say it's because it's because dialup customers' information is less valuable. Either they're so set in their ways that they won't change anything ever, or they can't afford broadband, or they live someplace that probably doesn't have many local services to market via Internet.

  • See, that's how much the media have been bombarding me with their veiled pro-copyright propaganda. When reading "rights groups" I have to immediately think about groups allied with entities like RIAA, MPAA, etc. That's why it looked so weird... rights groups being pro-consumer? Getting past the headline clarified things, but still. That "rights groups" in my mind automatically means "pro-copyright" is terrifying.
  • by Agripa ( 139780 )

    Encrypt Absolutely Everything

When we write programs that "learn", it turns out we do and they don't.

Working...