Protect your privacy: Not everyone needs to know if you went to a Pharmacy

In “I Spent a Week Trying to Make the Broadband Lobby Answer a Simple Question about Selling Your Data”, Sam Biddle discusses the contradictory statement made by the NCTA on their task to ensure and protect the privacy and security of personal information of their customers. To elaborate more on the issue of privacy and security, Micah Lee writes his article on the interview he conducted with Edward Snowden, where Snowden reveals how citizens can reclaim their privacy today. Ultimately, the two articles share the same idea in addressing the issue of privacy and how citizens can protect their privacy without the interference by the government.

According to Biddle, the House Republicans recently voted to overturn an FCC rule that forbids your internet service provider (ISP) from telling advertisers which websites you visit and what you search for in exchange for money. The Senate voted for this, and was also supported by the NCTA, who represent broadband companies such as Verizon and Comcast. Specifically, the NCTA released a statement, claiming that “…Our industry remains committed to offering services that protect the privacy and security of the personal information of our customers. We support this step towards reversing the FCC’s misguided approach and look forward to restoring a consistent approach to online privacy protection that consumers want and deserve” (Biddle). Claiming the NCTA was committed to protecting the privacy and security of customers contradicted the privacy protection part because the Senate’s action to repeal allows your ISP to make money by telling advertisers what websites you visit so they can sell you products. To clear this confusion, Biddle emailed Joy Sims, a spokesperson for the NCTA. Even through several emails, Sims failed to answer the simple question on how the NCTA can protect customers’ privacy by telling advertisers what websites you visit so they can sell you products. Similarly, in a conference where several broadband lobbying groups were, Howard Waltzman answered the same as did Sims. Waltzman responded by saying that Facebook already sells your information, so why can’t your ISP do the same?

Similarly, in Micah Lee’s interview with Edward Snowden, Snowden elaborates on ways citizens can protect their privacy today. The interview was conducted in Moscow, Russia, where Snowden had been exiled after leaking classified information of the National Security Agency (NSA). Specifically, the first step anyone should take is to encrypt their phone calls and their text messages. According to Snowden, “you can do that through the smartphone app Signal, by Open Whisper Systems. It’s free and you can just download it immediately” (Lee). Encrypting your phone will bar others from reading it if it’s intercepted. Additionally, Snowden recommends citizens use Tor, a privacy-enhancing technology project being used today. Tor Browser allows you to search something and leave no trace of that search. According to Snowden, “What Tor does is it provides a measure of security and allows you to disassociate your physical location” (Lee).

It was interesting to see how similar Biddle and Lee’s articles were. Finding out how our ISP’s have access to our information by letting advertisers know of what sites we visit just so they can sell their products was alarming, although, at this point, it no longer shocks me as much how what we do on the internet and how much of our personal information is easily accessed by broadband companies and the government. While reading the interview with Edward Snowden, I found some great advice on which I need to take into consideration as I, myself use social media often and I am unaware of how to protect my privacy. It was funny how Snowden simply put it out there by saying not everyone needs to know if you went to the pharmacy by posting it on Facebook. It’s true. I’ve recently stopped tweeting as much and putting a location on my Instagram pictures. What intrigued me most was how Snowden explained how there could be legislative acts passed or bills, however it is up to us as citizens to figure out how to change the way our society controls us and our privacy.

Bibliography

Biddle, Sam. “I Spent a Week Trying To Make the Broadband Lobby Answer a Simple Question About Selling Your Data.” The Intercept, 29 Mar. 2017, theintercept.com/2017/03/29/i-spent-a-week-trying-to-make-internet-providers-answer-a-simple-question-about-selling-your-data/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2017.

Lee, Micah. “Edward Snowden Explains How To Reclaim Your Privacy.” The Intercept, 12 Nov. 2015, theintercept.com/2015/11/12/edward-snowden-explains-how-to-reclaim-your-privacy/. Accessed 21 Apr. 2017.

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