Earlier this week Congress overturned established digital privacy rules, allowing Internet Service Providers to sell information about the online behavior of their customers. This bill is expected to be signed into law by the White House.
What this means is that if you’re a Comcast customer, for example, and you’ve been conducting online legal research, searching for recipes, posting comments on political blogs, or watching naked mud-wrestling matches, Comcast can then sell this information to third parties for advertising purposes.
As most people have few options when it comes to broadband Internet connectivity, this means that almost everyone who uses the Internet in America is subject to this erosion of privacy. For further reading of the issue, the Electronic Frontier Foundation published a brief overview of the legislation.
Additionally, the White House has Net Neutrality rules in its crosshairs. Currently, Internet traffic flows equally across all providers, which is known as “Net Neutrality.” This means that Rocket Matter, for example, does not have to pay more or less than other companies, such as Netflix, to provide online service.
If Net Neutrality is thrown out the window, ISPs such as Comcast can charge companies more or less based on the amount of Internet bandwidth they consume. They can put certain companies in Internet slow lanes. Conceivably, certain news media sites could be placed in a “slow lane” while others are placed in a “fast lane.”
If your hair is standing on end, join the club. The good news is that if you’re an attorney, you’re primed to join the fight. You can join the EFF’s Cooperating Attorneys List which will get you involved in the cases the EFF evaluates and needs help with. This is directly from their website:
“EFF receives many requests for legal assistance. In order to try to find help for as many people as possible, we maintain a post-only email list that attorneys can join called the Cooperating Attorneys list. The list receives anonymized requests for help, both directly on EFF cases and on cases where the EFF cannot offer assistance. If you are an attorney who is interested in joining the list, please contact the Legal Intake Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line, ‘Cooperating Attorney List Inquiry.'”