In the newspaper and on various internet sites that foster opinion/comment, Republicans are being tarred and feathered for canceling a regulation proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would limit the use of surfing habits/destinations that can be collected by physical internet providers such as telephone and cable companies (“Congress just made it easier to sell your data,” editorial, April 3).
These companies have yet to “sell your data” in this way, but it is obviously being done by someone. Within hours of visiting Office X’s website, looking at laptops, I get sidebar ads from Best X and others for laptops. I was looking at vacation rentals in Florida, and now the stream of sunny ads won’t stop.
I can only imagine what it would be like to go online shopping for a car or insurance. They would probably have telemarketers calling me by dinner.
What misuse and abuse is the FCC going to save us from that is not already happening?
The Republicans’ end plan envisions the FCC out of the picture, because all the FCC can control, even with its overreach, are the physical internet providers. The FCC can’t touch the likes of Bing, Google and Yahoo! — the web portal, mail, directory and search sites. These are the outfits that are selling your surfing habits/destinations today. The FCC can’t touch Facebook or Twitter, or the previously mentioned collectors who also deliver the end ad.
The Republicans want a level playing field between the physical and virtual companies that can be regulated by congressional law and the Federal Trade Commission, which can write the same rules for all.
The Democrats wants two agencies — the FCC for the physical guys and the FTC for the virtual guys. The net worth of the founders of the top six virtual companies (about 10 people) is nearly a half a trillion dollars. That type of money can influence a lot of politicians, and three of these companies are spinning their own online news. The possible ban against the physical people while not touching the virtual people is a joke. Privacy has already left the barn.
Think of an analogy, a highway. The trucks are controlled by one agency that writes rules based on interstate commerce interests; so out on the open road the trucks can go as fast as they’re able. The cars and motorcycles are controlled by a different agency, which has the interests of the least capable driver as its highest concern. Obviously, it is not going to work having 100-mile-per-hour trucks on the same road with 55-mph motorists. Two agencies regulating the same thing won’t work.
Robert Svacina lives in Plymouth.