NOTE: This post was originally published on April 10, 2017
Last week, ExpressVPN wrote about controversial U.S. Congress plans to allow ISPs to sell your private data for profit.
To the dismay of privacy advocates around the world, Donald Trump signed the measure into law.
The new policy is popular only with corporate lobbyists of network providers—it seems absolutely no one else wanted it to happen. And yet, the new U.S. administration made it a priority, undoing significant online privacy progress over the last few years.
How do new U.S. internet privacy regulations affect you?
Online giants such Verizon and Comcast can now monitor customer behavior online and, without permission, use private personal and financial information (like your browsing history, the banks you use, and the shops you frequent), to sell highly targeted ads.
Online marketing makes big money. Currently, Google and Facebook are kings of the $83 billion industry. It’s no wonder the telecom giants wanted a piece of the pie.
Internet users now have no control over what happens to their data, which ISPs could sell directly to marketing firms, financial companies, or anyone that mines personal data.
Again, this includes data that you have not given willingly. Telecom agencies can now spy on your online activity and sell the results for their profit.
Comcast promises to protect your data, for now
In a quickly released statement on their website, Comcast was keen to stress their intentions with this newly gained power.
“Comcast has committed to privacy principles that are consistent with the FTC’s privacy regime which has applied to all entities in the Internet ecosystem for over 20 years….”
As ExpressVPN previously pointed out, though, a commitment is not a law. It can easily be broken. What if Comcast suddenly faced financial difficulties? Would it still refuse to sell off their treasure trove of human data?
It’s nice for Comcast to sound so committed now, but corporate values change. And yes, Attorneys General could impose punishment after the fact, but that’s too late. Your data will have already been sold.
In short, can you trust a telecom giant to be responsible with your personal information?
Why you can trust a VPN with your data
ExpressVPN is in the business of keeping your data private. It’s the reason for our existence; it’s the only thing we do.
A VPN company has everything to lose by sharing customer data (if they even have any). An ISP has potentially billions of dollars to gain.
There’s really no comparison.
Telecom giants should not have this much power over your private information. However, a VPN can still protect you and your family.