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Advertising Government Privacy The Internet United States

Billboards Target Lawmakers Who Voted To Let ISPs Sell User Information (theverge.com) 91

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: When Congress voted in March to block FCC privacy rules and let internet service providers sell users' personal data, it was a coup for the telecom industry. Now, the nonprofit, pro-privacy group Fight for the Future is publicizing just how much the industry paid in an attempt to sway those votes. The group unveiled four billboards, targeting Reps. Marsha Blackburn and John Rutherford, as well as Sens. Jeff Flake and Dean Heller. All four billboards, which were paid for through donations, were placed in the lawmakers' districts. "Congress voting to gut Internet privacy was one of the most blatant displays of corruption in recent history," Fight for the Future co-founder Tiffiniy Cheng said in a statement on the project. The billboards accuse the lawmakers of betraying their constituents, and encourage passersby to call their offices.
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Billboards Target Lawmakers Who Voted To Let ISPs Sell User Information

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  • Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @06:02PM (#54357455) Homepage


    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      For all the good it will do. Nobody cares, nothing will come out of it. Except new harsher laws that will further restrict what we can do. When is everyone going to realize that the match is over and we lost?

      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        As soon as we see elections being cancelled and those in power never having to relinquish it.

        Until then, we take things 4 years at a time (well 2 years at a time if you include midterms.) Anything the current politician can do, the next one can potentially undo. Well unless you're Trump. He's had no luck undoing Obama's progress yet.. but then he's only one quarter into 4 years so there's still lots of time to prop up our corporate oppressors.

      • When you know you lost, keep playing and make sure that the other one loses too.

        It's the only way to discourage them from playing.

      • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

        When is everyone going to realize that the match is over and we lost?

        That isn't a thing that a person realizes; it's a thing that a person decides.

        The enemy wins by persuading you into believing that you've lost.

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @06:10PM (#54357501)

    The flaw in this tactic is that it requires the person discussed on the billboard to be able to feel shame at the things they do in their official capacity.

    Since politics has turned into a spectator sport where people choose what team to support like they were a football franchise, shame and an ability to look down upon the choices made has evaporated.

    • by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @06:24PM (#54357563) Journal
      I'd have to say that there are more than one flaw in this tactic.
      For one, it relies on the general public valuing their online privacy in the first place, which so-called 'social media' has been indoctrinating them against for a long time now, especially Milennials.
      Next, it relies on the general public even understanding the issue from a technical perspective; at best they probably think clearing their browser history is enough to protect them from nosy ISPs.
      Finally, it also relies on how they prioritize one issue over another. Does the general public really take the Internet all that seriously, compared to other issues that their elected representatives have a hand in? They may think so-and-so does a great job, for instance, keeping education funded in their state, or keeping crime under control, so they don't really care about this 'internet' thing so much.

      Still, it's better that they do something rather than just sit back and do nothing. There's always a chance that people will prove me wrong, and I'd be fine with that in this case. Otherwise, the way things are going, the Internet is going to become unusable. As-is, since this whole issue came up, I've started using Tor for everything, which is not all that great to start with, and am considering migrating away from Comcasts' email and using Proton Mail for everything instead, so that Comcast gets basically nothing from me. However it's not beyond the realm of possibility at this point that jackass corporations like Comcast might change their terms of service some time in the future to make it against their rules to use Tor.
      • But the tactic is also showing in simple terms the extent of the republican shill mindset and the depth of the republican swamp.

        • The Congress of the United States is the greatest threat to the United States.

          • Oh dear! What does that say about the people who (re)elect them?

            • by meadow ( 1495769 )

              I wouldn't really consider the process "election", more like electoral farce. Elections are bought. This is not democracy, but oligarchy.

        • Of course this isn't only a republican issue, it's also a problem with democrats. And anyone can see the allegiance of politicians who tend to vote for corporate interests over public interest (but finding out which measures are best adapted to gauge the swamp's depth might be a bit more complex).

      • by Anonymous Coward

        For one, it relies on the general public valuing their online privacy in the first place, which so-called 'social media' has been indoctrinating them against for a long time now, especially Milennials.

        It isn't so much being indoctrinated against as it is getting brushed under the rug so nonchalantly that only the turbonerds complain about it. Make it personal, and make it real-world. Take out a TV ad with some creepy looking guy in a hoodie skulking around an open window with a kid on a PC and a tense voice over about how your cable company wants to sell your children's internet history. Every video they watch, every website they read, every group they are a part of is all for sale. Maybe do another one

      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        Well that's why they specifically use the term "your browsing history" rather than something more vague like "your data." People care if their porn habits are being spied on in a way that they don't care about any other information that may be shared against their will.

        Though as you noted, a lot of people will probably think they're safe if they just clear their browsing history. Not sure that there's anything can be done about that. You can't force people to stop being ignorant.

        That said, saying things

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Politics has been a spectator sport ever since voting was instituted.

      "The Masses" are idiots, incapable of governing themselves, and equally incapable of wisely choosing their governors.

      In America, at least, voters have basically no power at the federal level. The shots are called by a cartel of rich industries, mostly Bankers; who legislate from the shadows using their money. Voting is just a big dog-and-pony show that provides the illusion of choice.

      All is not lost; Americans who are truly devoted to a

    • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @07:07PM (#54357761) Journal

      The flaw in this tactic is that it requires the person discussed on the billboard to be able to feel shame at the things they do in their official capacity.

      "None of your business" Darrell Issa when asked how he was going to vote on the healthcare bill. These people are tone deaf and have absolutely no self awareness.

    • The flaw in this tactic is that it requires the person discussed on the billboard to be able to feel shame at the things they do in their official capacity.

      I don't think that was the goal.

      I think the goal is to sway the mind of voters. That doesn't necessarily mean changing a die hard republican into a die hard democrat, but it can be as simple as convincing a tepid republican voter to become more apathetic and just staying home, or convincing a tepid democrat voter to actually go and vote for something they already believe in rather than being lazy.

    • They don't need to feel shame, since, unlike with corporate management, we technically have the ability to replace them if they perform poorly.

      Sadly, what you could replace them with isn't any better. It's not like you really have a choice. Democracy turned into having a box of vases, all of them broken beyond repair, but you can freely choose the one you like best.

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @06:20PM (#54357543)
    so safe she was mentioned as a VP possibility for Trump. maybe all four have little reason to worry about reelection.
    • It's a sad state of affairs. In certain districts, with the right letter after your name on the ballot, you could be Satan himself and be elected by a landslide.
      • Satan typically couldn't make it through the primary. There's always a filter somewhere. In my Congressional district, the last time an incumbent retired his successor was picked in the Democratic primary.

  • by mikael ( 484 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @06:26PM (#54357571)

    When I read the title, I thought these billboards would be electronic adverts listing the persons most recent purchases or targeted ads for health problems. I bet if that happened, they would soon push for legislation.

    • Probably, but it'd look similar to their attempt to scrap preexisting condition protections for everyone but includes an exception that protects the congress critters forced by law to also buy insurance from the marketplace.
    • by Boronx ( 228853 )

      ISPs will never sell you that info, because it would threaten their ability to sell your info.

      • Oh please, considering how secure the average ISP is, do you really think I'd spend money just to get that information?

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      The legislation would not be what you want it to be. It will be some or all of the following:
      1) No purchasing of data of politicians
      2) No publishing of bought data to the public
      3) A black-list or white-list of companies
      4) An NDA ...

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @06:27PM (#54357579)

    Like, perchance, these congressperson's home addresses and phone numbers. Maybe their kids' names and birthdates.

    After all, what's sauce for the goose...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Once available, including a few of the websites these people are known to visit on the billboard should do the trick.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Do the billboards also mention that the rules had not been in effect yet, so the vote removed future restrictions and actually changed nothing for how things currently are? I'm all for privacy, but let's stop inflating what this vote actually did. It did not open the spigots for something that had not already been possible/happening.

    • by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @07:52PM (#54357947)

      That's a bit pedantic. The rule may not have been in play yet, but now it won't be. To use your spigot analogy, the spigot is open, was scheduled to be shut off, and now it won't be.

      The end effect is the same -- lawmakers sold us all out to the telecoms.

      • Even then your under selling it. The rule was put in place because of a concerning new practice by a few in the industry. It wasn't just a theoretical problem, it was a real problem that needed stopped before a dangerous practice took foothold. Now the green light is on, it will now take legislative action to stop, as they are now forbidden from enforcing any similar rules.

  • by LVSlushdat ( 854194 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @06:34PM (#54357609)

    Dean Heller is one of my Senators and until this, I naively thought he was one of the "good_guys"... Looks like I was wrong... Wonder how much he got for his vote for selling us out? hehe maybe I'll call his office and ask that VERY question... Of course, his staff won't have the answer (or at least won't give it to a *mere* pleeb such as I)...

  • by WolfgangVL ( 3494585 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @07:11PM (#54357783)

    At least we are not just taking it. This gets people talking, and that's a start. Better late than never. Maybe this will open the floodgates. Fingers crossed.

  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @07:15PM (#54357791)
    10-15 years ago our sales rep for our JTAG debugger was Jeff Flake (not the congressclown). This guy was great. He knew his stuff, and if I asked him a question he didn't know he'd find out and let me know (we were trying to automate test scripts via Perl with a COM library developed in house. Basically guessing how the JTAG debugger internals works and asking Jeff when we guessed wrong).

    It pisses me off to see congressclown Jeff bring down the awesome Jeff Flake the sales represenative.
  • by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @07:32PM (#54357861)

    the problem is, the people that voted these asswipes in, are the majority. the majority is stupid and apathetic, need proof? see point #1

  • This one [azcentral.com] comes to mind. It's a good way to protest. Gets a lot of attention for relatively little cash.
    • Makes me tempted to do a few "Go fund mes" for some things. I got buddies with illnesses that are gonna be high and dry (read:dead) if the ACA gets repealed. And no, it's not "Bad Livin'" it's genetic. But yeah, there's a Republican Congressman who blamed it on that while pinky swearing he'd give guys like my friend a pass. Only thing is that's not what happened pre-ACA. Wish more people would just say "You Lie!" to these guys.
  • by SwashbucklingCowboy ( 727629 ) on Thursday May 04, 2017 @08:22PM (#54358087)

    That will have an effect

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"