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How To Fight Back Against The Bill That Permits ISPs To Sell Your Browser History

Including how to opt out and how to tell you representatives to repeal the bill

Bottom line on top here...we are raising a $2 million legal fund to help Veeto members fight ISPs who infringe on their rights. Details below. But you can join Veeto here.

The browser history bill raises many questions

  • Does this bill permit ISPs to only sell new data created after its passage or also old data that would have been created under the expectation of privacy?
  • How can I opt out of my browser history being for sale?
  • May I opt out now, in advance of the bill taking effect, or must I wait it takes effect in December 2017?
  • What is the specific procedure required for opting out?
  • Does “opting out” require ISPs to simply treat a person’s data as the ISP did before, or are there certain changes of which people cannot really opt out (for example: opting out of selling my data versus also opting out of tracking and storing my data in new, more invasive ways)?

Yet despite the uncertainty that these (and other) unanswered questions invite, one thing is clear: most people adamantly oppose ISPs being able to sell their private browsing history. And it does not require an expert to explain the basis for that consensus. The things that people do under the expectation of privacy should not be secrets for another to sell.

ISPs can sell your secrets

This bill permits ISPs to sell your secrets--your private browser history that intuitively seems to be no one's property but your own. Is this what our legislators do when we stop standing up for what we believe?

The habit of standing up

The habit of standing up for what you believe is one of the greatest resources of mankind; and we are more likely to stand up when we have a clear strategy for winning.

This is how we will win--in three moves

  1. First, we need to protect ourselves. We can do this by exercising our right to opt out our browser history from being for sale. Veeto can do this easily--check.
  2. Second, we need to make our political representatives hear why we believe this bill is bad, and should therefore be repealed. Speak can do this easily--check.
  3. Third, be prepared to take immediate action when/if ISPs infringe on any of your remaining legal rights, as they transition from pre-bill to post-bill rules. Does the bill grant ISPs new privileges? Absolutely. But do we think ISPs will adhere precisely to the limts of those new privileges? Probably not. This is why, in addition to opting out, to protect yourself, you need to have your spear ready to spring when/if ISPs overstep. This is what Veeto is designed to do. And to adequately equip each person who asks Veeto to help him/her fight against this bill, we will be raising a $2 million fund earmarked precisely for this purpose: to bankroll legal cases against any ISP who oversteps the limits of this bill and infringes on his/her rights. That is right: Veeto is offering Veeto members the full force of a $2 million legal fund (or call it a "war chest" if you like).

Threats are not enough

The knee-jerk reaction from many people who oppose this bill has been to threaten to buy and publish the browser history of any representative who voted in favor of this bill. While we agree with this sentiment--"hell yea, why should those representatives, of all people, be insulated from this invasion of privacy?"--we do not believe this to be a viable strategy to either repeal the bill or protect the individuals who oppose it. Why?

The main reason is this: if the bill includes an opt-out provision, do you not think that each of those representatives would simply opt-out and therefore prevent their respective browser histories from being sold? Then, any money opponents of this bill might have contributed to one of the numerous campaigns promising to retaliate against the offending representatives in this way would have been misspent.

This is different than merely threatening to buy and publish a bunch of representatives's browser history.

Instead, we believe the clear strategy for winning against this bill is to first protect yourself and then to take an active political role by articulating your specific complaints to your representatives. Of course, later, if there is a swing-for-the-fence tactic that shows promise, then do what you can to support it. But putting yourself first here is the only smart play.

What this campaign promises?

We are fighting back. Your secrets should not be for sale, unless/until you decide to sell them. It should be your choice, not your ISP's and not your legislators'.

Start by opting out your browsing history.