When it comes to Internet privacy Trump, and the GOP are adopting the corporate-authoritarian model of China – where the state can not only watch everything you do on the Internet, but can also censor it. And Trump and the GOP add insult to civil rights injury: They want to strip Americans of privacy rights while also letting private companies make money off our loss of rights. Call this the United-Airlines-Mug-A-Paying-Passenger philosophy of consumer “rights”… on a national “legalized” scale.
Win/Win for the giant security state and the giant corporate monopolies.
Trump’s new Chairman of the FCC — Ajit Pai — co-authored a highly deceptive op-ed in The Washington Post to “explain” the “good side” of the rest of us losing our Internet oasis of freedom and private communications. He took a page from Orwell as he claimed that when Republicans in the House and Senate – without a single Democratic vote in either body – voted to legalize your Internet Service Provider, to sell your personal (and previously-private) browsing information and the content of your emails and video-viewing to anybody they choose … that they were actually working to “protect” your privacy.
Trump’s point man Pai, knew this, he wrote, because critics of the GOP policy “don’t understand how advertising works.” Yeah, right…
That claim is an outright lie– a “10” on the 1-to-10 Trump Scale Of Outright Alt-Facts right up there with Trump’s “Birther” claims.
He starts out saying that an ISP would never sell your private browsing\emailing\viewing history because it “would violate ISP’s privacy promises.” True enough, at this moment – because those privacy policies reflect the law that banned such behavior.
But anybody who’s ever bothered to read online Terms of Service knows that such policies can, quite literally, be changed in less than a day, to accommodate “new legal opportunities.” To think they won’t is either naïve or profoundly disingenuous.
At the core of this debate is a simple concept that Pai’s op-ed goes out of its way to obfuscate. It’s the question of whether the internet and access to it should be a “public” space (i.e. “part of the commons”) with a We The People government-regulated expectation of privacy, or a hypermonetized private/corporate/billionaire-regulated space where you are left to the tender mercies of giant corporations and their owners/managers..
There’s nothing complicated about net neutrality. As Susan Crawford writes in the New York Times:
Try this thought experiment: Would you want five companies owning every road in America and deciding who gets to travel where, at what price and speed? Taken further, should Verizon be able to require that the “internet of things” include only its things?
It’s not just that the existing giants want free rein over their customers. They also want even greater scale and even greater involvement in content as well as distribution — and they’re likely to get a green light from the F.C.C. Comcast bought NBCU a few years ago. Now behemoth AT&T, which already swallowed up DirecTV, wants to buy HBO’s and CNN’s programming through an $85 billion merger with Time Warner. Verizon already bought AOL, is about to absorb Yahoo and is rumored to be considering the purchase of Spectrum, the second-largest internet service provider in the country.
There was a time, in the early days of telephones, when there was very little privacy to a phone call.
So, in 1934, Congress (a body that once was on the side of the American people!) updated the laws regulating radio to include telephony, creating the FCC, and wrote Title II of the FCC regulations, which basically says that the phone system is a public utility (necessary for public safety, the public good, etc.), and that therefore the phone company couldn’t listen in to your conversations.
As Hartmann notes, imagine, instead, that the newly-formed 1934 FCC had taken the position that Trump and his Republican cronies now want: that phone systems were purely profit machines for the companies that own them, and they could monetize them anyway they wanted based on the content of your phone calls.
Back in 1934, to prevent the telephone version of this sort of corporate intrusion into our lives, the FCC, through Title II, said that the contents of your phone conversations were yours – private. Phone service is still that way today.
Trump, and his Republican buddies in Congress, assert that your use of the internet is not a protected communication the way phones are.
Contrast Trump’s China-type Big Brother overreach to Canada or the European Union. They defended internet neutrality as a basic human right. They defend their people the way our Congress once did when they made phone calls private.
Giant search engines and a plethora of private sites already enthusiastically sell your usage of their sites; it’s at the core of their business models.
The Trump/GOP argument is that if Google can sell or use your information, then Comcast, AT&T, Time-Warner, etc., should be able to, too. But there’s a fundamental difference: If you don’t want Google to sell or use your information, you can use a search engine (like www.duckduckgo.com) or an online store that promises not to. Now Trump wants to strip you of even the chance to make a choice.
You’ve been sold.
Your internet service provider sees everything you do on the internet, right down to the keystroke level. That used to be private and protected. Now they can monitor every conversation, make note of every search or purchase, and transcribe every email or IM. Just like your phone company, before Title II, could listen in on every one of your phone calls.
Trump will have the tools of the Chinese Communist Party to listen in to us all, to help giant corporations further profit from us — unrestricted by quaint notions of what it once meant to be a free American — to let marketers actually manipulate your choices directly. In other words Trump is taking us back to a time before 1934.
Selling the American people to the highest bidder and stripping us of privacy when we email our wives, lovers, friends and children, manipulating our searches and purchasing choices… this draconian agenda is Trump’s and the GOP’s idea of “making America great again…”
And Trump’s own idea of his right to privacy..? Unlike all other presidents he won’t even release the logs of who visits the White House! Trump doesn’t want the American people to even know who our president meets and makes deals with. And tax his returns…? Forget about it! That’s private! Who owns his family enterprises? That’s private!