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What the new ISP privacy regulations mean for you

online privacyPresident Trump is expected to sign into law a decision by Congress to overturn new privacy rules for Internet service providers. The following is from an editorial released by NPR about what the new regulations mean for you:

Passed by the Federal Communications Commission in October, the rules never went into effect. If they had, it would have given consumers more control over how ISPs use the data they collect. Most notably, the rules would have required explicit consent from consumers if sensitive data — like financial or health information, or browsing history — were to be shared or sold.

These rules wouldn't have applied to the likes of Google or Facebook — massive data collectors and digital advertisers — and that has been a major point of contention for ISPs. But consumer groups argue that's no reason to roll back restrictions on Internet providers. Plus, they point out, you could abandon those companies for other websites if you disagree with their policies; switching Internet providers is not so easy.

For the average consumer, just about every site they visit online is sharing data with other ad networks, with other third parties, for the purpose of either measuring or targeting ads. ... Even most privacy organizations end up using Google Analytics or some other basic tools.

Now, what choices people have maybe has gotten a little bit more complicated. ... ISPs have historically played a very small role in (the ad targeting) market for a range of reasons. The most interesting and valuable data is search, social media data — and that is typically only available to the big portals that have that data. The ISPs don't have it if it's encrypted.

For better or worse, online data has been democratized, and there are third-party ad exchanges where anybody can show up and have access to a big swath of your Web surfing.

If you're  looking to disengage from the commercial world, it's hard to take advantage of much of the Web without being somewhat technically savvy.  If the new regulations allow ISPs broader latitude with how they can use your data, primarily for advertising and marketing uses, most there are tools available that a professional can help you access to turn off those functions.

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