by Reggie Fullwood
If you ever use the internet for anything then Big Brother is watching you. Who is Big Brother?
Well the term or concept started as a warning that appears on posters throughout Oceania, the fictional dictatorship described by George Orwell in his 1949 book Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Since this famous or infamous book was written, the term generally refers to any ruler or government that invades the privacy of its citizens. The book paints an interesting picture of a dictatorship in which “Big Brother” or “The Man” is constantly watching and continuously disseminating propaganda to it’s citizens.
I will not even deal with the propaganda part of Nineteen Eighty-Four, but the science fictional concept of Big Brother is real in today’s age of fast moving technological advances.
Marketing and Social Media companies can tailor ads based on your internet site viewing patterns and the type of advertising you like or follow on sites like Facebook and Instagram. Yes, just when you thought it was safe to look at meatloaf recipes on Pinerest – companies can capture that data and sell to advertisers.
Most of us don’t even think about it. The internet sites I check out in the privacy of my own home should be private right? Wrong.
And thanks to Republicans in Washington two weeks ago, your privacy just got way less private. Not only is Big Brother watching – he’s trying to make billions off of monitoring your behavior.
In a party-line vote, House and Senate Republicans abolished rules passed last year that would keep internet service providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon in check.
In October of 2016, Federal Communications Commission passed a new set of rules that forbid Internet providers from sharing sensitive personal information, such as app and browsing histories, financial information, mobile location data and other information generated while using the Internet.
I don’t care what your party affiliation is, everyone should be concerned about Congress giving Internet providers the right to sell your personal data. Think about it – browsing histories, contact information, financial data, etc. it is all up for grabs, and the people should be worried.
The FCC law that was overturned by Republicans also restricted the trading in health data, Social Security numbers and the content of emails and other digital messages. Providers would also have been required to notify customers about the types of information collected and shared.
That’s all gone now. Consumer have been caught in the political game of politicians choosing the highest bidder over what is right.
Internet providers wrote big checks to Republican leaders, hence the little guy who simply wants some measure of privacy in their internet browsing looses.
Internet providers or Big Brothers like AT&T and Comcast will say that it is not a big deal because certain websites already track your usage and behavior. Well there is a big difference between Facebook tracking my “likes” and movement as a social media site versus the company that I pay for internet service tracking my moves and capturing data.
I get capitalism. In fact, I love it. I am OK with it, but we have to draw a line somewhere when it comes to the web. Whether it is the federal or state governments or private corporations, citizens deserve a degree of privacy in their usage of the internet.
Unfortunately, not enough people are up in arms. Not only is Big Brother watching, he’s about to make a major profit off of each of us.
While most tech firms look to capitalize on the ability to capture your personal information at least one tech giant realizes the importance of maintaining consumer privacy.
“Historically, privacy was almost implicit, because it was hard to find and gather information. But in the digital world, whether it’s digital cameras or satellites or just what you click on, we need to have more explicit rules – not just for governments but for private companies,” said Microsoft founder, Bill Gates.
Isn’t it interesting that the political party of privacy and private property rights is normally the GOP. Welcome to Bizarro World.
Signing off from the Comcast store near you,