Trying to keep our internet data private

AT&T, Comcast and other internet service providers can continue to track every search you make and website you visit and sell that information to the highest bidder, under legislation recently signed by President Donald Trump.

That legislation, which reversed an Obama regulation, ought to alarm any American who ventures online – no matter their purpose or political persuasion. Now comes Assemblyman Ed Chau, a Democrat from Monterey Park, carrying a bill that for Californians would reverse the legislation and provide some privacy at a time when our privacy seems to be for sale.

Chau’s Assembly Bill 375 promises fundamental protections: Internet services providers would have to provide customers with a “clear and conspicuous” opportunity to agree to their information being used, disclosed or sold. You could revoke that permission at any time. Providers could not deny service if consumers refuse to sign away their right to privacy. And they could not charge customers more for failing to grant them access to their information.

The ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Common Sense Kids Action and Consumer Federation of California are among the bill’s supporters. So are we.

Joining Chau at a Capitol press conference Monday was Scott Jordan, a UC Irvine computer science professor and former Federal Communications Commission official, who listed some of the information internet service providers could glean: The sites you visit; whether those sites are related to your finances or health; what videos you watch; how often you visit certain sites; what time of day you visit them; how long you linger; what devices you use; what apps you download; where you are located.


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