Update: April 4, 2017: It's official. President Trump has signed the resolution to repeal online privacy protections that would have placed greater restrictions on how telecommunication companies use your data.
This piece was originally published on March 29.
The Internet is up in arms right now, with people speaking out against yesterday’s congressional vote to overturn online security regulations. If President Trump signs the bill into law, your information will be up for sale.
The regulation in question was one of the last moves of the Federal Communication Commission under President Obama. The rule, “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunication Services,” requires that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and other carriers get your permission to share your information. This information includes your app usage and browser history.
According to a statement from the White House press office, it’s all but guaranteed that President Trump will vote to overturn the rule. The statement says that if it is presented to the President — which it will be after yesterday’s Republican-led vote, “his advisors would recommend that he sign the bill into law.”
If and when the bill does go into effect, telecommunications company will be able to sell your information without your permission. Scary, no?
The Twitter response has been fast and rightfully furious.
Unfortunately, there is no magic solution for protecting your information from your provider. You can attempt to search for more information on how to opt-out of data collection on your carrier's privacy policies page. However, as Wired notes, carriers are not always transparent and can make opting out challenging.
Another option, which you've likely heard people talking about, is to get a VPN, or a virtual private network. A VPN encrypts your activity online, boosting your privacy. You can check with your employer or school to see if they offer one for free, or sign up for one on your own (such as NordVPN or Private Internet Access), usually for a monthly fee. VPNs are not the solution to the bill, though. In some cases, they too have come under fire for exposing user information.