I hate to call myself a democrat, but the more these spineless republicans sell out their constituents the more I feel like I am becoming a lefty libtard. I thought republicans were supposed to be tough, but they have proven to be nothing but pussies when it comes to standing up to the president, or doing what is right for the people.
Granted, what I am writing about today might not have anything to do with the president, but still fuck this party.
In recent news, Congress is trying to get a piece of legislation passed that would allow for internet service providers (ISP) to sell your information. Most, if not all, of these people are Republicans, and all of them have received money from telecommunications companies. To see who is for this piece of legislation and how much they have received in the past, I suggest heading over to The Verge.
Personally, I don’t know of any way to block this legislation from affecting my life, and for the most part to keep your information private on the web requires a herculean effort involving wonky browsers like TOR, and paying for services that can create dummy IP addresses. For the laymen this will all sound like I am speaking Latin. So if none of this makes sense, then you probably won’t even take the time to do any of this or finish reading this post.
So why do I take issue with this?
Selling consumer information is nothing new, but is damn sure annoying, and kind of happens already. When it comes to credit cards your purchasing information is bought and sold to the highest bidder. I don’t like this, but like most American’s I sacrifice privacy for convenience. A lot can be told about a person based on their purchasing information. For me you’d probably get an idea that I enjoy traveling, spend a lot of my income on books, and shop at the grocery store. This for the most part is a pretty superficial picture of who I am, although it can be extrapolated to other things. Like the types of books I read could help to paint a picture of my other interests. I’m currently reading a book about sexual perversions so I must be interested in psychology and sex.
This is stuff I’d rather not freely give up to some sort of market analyst, because the next thing I know free samples of sex lubricant might start showing up in my mailbox. Regardless, this is rather benign, and who am I kidding lube is always appreciated.
On the internet, our information is already used for these marketing purposes. Have you ever wondered why the same ads show up on every website you visit? If you have you are not alone. These ads are being specifically targeted to you based on your browser history. This is done through something called a cookie. These can be disabled or deleted. Some websites collect your information already, so it is really hard to protect privacy to begin with on the internet.
But just because this legislation was inevitable to begin with, doesn’t mean I have to like it, or that I will stop using the internet (I’m not a barbarian). Most of the data that is collected on me via the internet is somewhat fractured to begin with (I think). Websites like Pornhub are only going to have information based on my stroke habits, and the information gathered from that site probably couldn’t be used to sell me camping equipment, or really anything other than a Kendra Sunderland Fleshlight.
Instead an ISP has all your data, and this is where it gets weird, so put on your propeller hats because this will start to go into cuckoo land.
The real question here is who is allowed to buy this information and for what purposes? Ideally, the information being sold would be limited to advertiser’s trying to sell a product. This would and could be as benign as it ever gets. The likelihood is that this isn’t the case.
I hate to think that my information is being sold to the bad guys, but that might just be where this is going. If there are no limits on who can use my information then that could mean hackers, foreign governments, or even our own government could buy and use it against me. Although, I’m hardly an important person, this could be an issue for someone who is and may have political or business rivals. Everyone has looked at some compromising things on the internet, and even the rich and powerful deserve a certain level of privacy.
That is why I think this is an extremely foolish decision on the part of our politicians, and big business proponents. This could be a particularly damaging piece of legislation that could have consequences even for them. In the case of the politicians they have been making asses of themselves ever since the internet became a “thing.” With websites that allow us to view their voting records on past issues, and in the case of Open Secrets allows us to see who is lining their pockets with cash.
The looming fear of a “1984” style police state has been bandied about for decades, this feels like one more step in that direction.
Perhaps most disappointing though is that both senators Lindsay Graham and John McCain have voted in favor of this legislation. They have become political heroes recently thanks to their outspoken criticism of the Trump administration and its alleged ties to Russia. But even for these crusaders they apparently weren’t immune to the sway of the cold hard cash being dangled in front of them.
Admittedly, I don’t know all the angles to this legislation, and truthfully without actually going through the process of getting a FOIA request I have no idea what this all entails.
My hope is that there would be limits on the type of information being sold. But reading through a New York Times opinion piece, it sounds like that there would be potentially no limit, which is scary to think about. Especially when you think about all the shit that gets transmitted on the web. Financial, medical, personal and tax information is just a few things that we give up freely to the web. In the past there was assumption that this was some how safe.
Fearfully, I think about the new types of discrimination this could create. Prejudice against a person’s skin color, religious beliefs or sexual orientation might be the least of our worries.
Personally, I hope that I am simply overreacting, and this never reaches the level that I am playing out in my mind.
There was a time being where I toyed with the idea of being a libertarian. The idea of less government interfering with my life , a strong sense of self-determination is necessary for success, and that the market will work things out is appealing. Truthfully, it was push back to my somewhat liberal upbringing.
I don’t think these ideas are entirely bad either, just that to the degree in which they are enacted needs to be moderated and done so rationally. The free market has given this country and it’s people a lot of great things. I can’t say that business is necessarily a bad thing, so I definitely don’t think that corporations are evil or I harbor an anarchist ideology.
But I struggle with this all or nothing concept that some people have. To me it is all about balance and without limitations being set on how corporations can and cannot operate to me is a recipe for disaster, one that takes advantage of the people they seek to serve. If Trump signs this things, and I’d be surprised if he didn’t. It will be another failure in a long list by our politicians.
Which means that instead of creating and providing products that people want, and serving some sort of function in elevating American society towards greatness, that instead we are just another commodity similar to oil or coal to be exploited and be made a profit for a select few.
My readers may not like or love my politics, and I may be completely off about all of this, but what I am trying to do is make people think. Think about what is right, what is wrong, and ask yourself to what extreme do we push things to either the left or right? I also encourage people to challenge me. I might not engage anyone in an online debate, but please if you have access to better information than me I encourage you to share it and put my worries at ease.