Tuesday’s decision by the House, following along with the Senate to scrap the previous administrations FCC privacy initiatives, is a huge setback to online users. Essentially the vote prevented the FCC’s regulations on how ISP’s could handle the collection and subsequent selling of user’s data, from ever taking place.
The FCC’s rules would have prevented ISP’s from enjoying the same “soft-regulations” that online content providers like Google and Facebook currently enjoy. Freed from the looming regulations, the ISP’s can jump into the targeted advertising market with their counterparts.
Aside from unlocking the ISP’s free reign on user’s privacy, the repeal came with an additional bit of craftwork. The “craftwork” came in the tool used to repeal the FCC’s rules, known as the Congressional Review Act. Once used, the Congressional Review Act, prevents the FCC from reintroducing any similar rules or regulations. “Similar” being the key word here, which means it’s left up to interpretation on just how similar any new privacy rules could be read. Basically ANY privacy initiative taken by the FCC could be seen as similar, and be shot down. But with the FCC chair changing hands, privacy rules aren’t likely to be forthcoming any time soon.
So what does this mean, security wise?
Well to put it simply… a lot.
Security and privacy go hand-in-hand. And when rules are introduced that expose aspects of your privacy, so to goes your security. When our ISP’s decide that they’d like to start tracking your movements and adding bits of tracking code to your communications with the internet, they are essentially exposing new attack surfaces for hackers to take advantage of. Exposing your information is a hacker’s primary goal. If suddenly there’s an entire new matrix of data, in what amounts to a man-in-the-middle style collection by your ISP… How safe is that?
It’s not. It’s not safe at ALL.
And we haven’t even begun to learn just how the ISP’s plan on tracking, gathering, and using our data. Each step has massive potential for breaking security protocols. From tracking cookies that expose our communication data, to force-fed advertisements that could break browsers or even become hand-delivered malware. We just don’t know yet.
It’s for this reason that we’re recommending that everyone start using a VPN. We’ve encouraged them before, but feel they should be the standard now, instead of the exception. We’ll run a suggested VPN in the Tip’s section in the next few days. Stay tuned.