On March 30, 2017 the U.S. House of Representatives joined the Senate and passed legislation allowing communications companies, mainly Verizon and Comcast, to sell any data gathered about you online to other companies – or theoretically individuals wishing to purchase the data. This includes your internet search history, content of chats and emails, medical and health information, and your social security number. Now the removal of the consumer privacy regulations does not make it legal to sell that data, but it removes the illegality of it. The vote itself was split among party lines, as the mainstream media is quick to point out, with virtually all Democrats voting against it and all Republicans voting for it in both Congressional houses. To chalk this all up to partisan politics would be a mistake however. The Verge, an online multimedia news outlet, released an article containing the names of the senators and representatives who voted ‘Yes’ on this legislation as well as the amount of money they have accepted on behalf of the communications industry lobbyists – which you can view here.
Since the list is quite lengthy we will only be able to post some of the more prominent congressional members here:
- Tom Cotton R-AR, $70,025
- Ted Cruz R-TX, $40,840
- Cory Gardner R-CO, $95,023
- Lindsey Graham R-SC, $74,522
- Mitch McConnell R-KY (Senate Majority Leader), $251,110
- John Thune R-SD, $215,000
- Ken Buck R-CO, $15,750
- Kevin McCarthy R-CA (House Majority Leader), $99,100
- Steve Scalise R-LA (House Majority Whip), $121,750
- Gregory Walden R-OR, $155,100
This whole list shows how millions of dollars were used to essentially purchase the rights to our privacy and information and to make a profit off of it. This was not a political or philosophical divide, but an example of purchased legislation; this is what politicians like Bernie Sanders were referencing when they said that we need to get money out of politics, which is a whole different story. While the split in Washington was very evident, the regular citizens of the nation – both Democrat and Republican – can come together and agree that this legislation hurts everyone except for the corporations purchasing and selling our information.
*note* There are some services you can use to keep your data anonymous and your cyber-privacy intact, such as VPN (Virtual Private Network) programs as well as using the TOR (The Onion Router) browser.