On March 28, by a vote of 215-205, the House of Representatives voted to overturn yet-to-be enacted regulations that would require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to receive approval from their customers before selling their internet history to third parties. It generated controversy on both sides of the political spectrum, and it brought the never-ending debate regarding internet privacy back to the forefront.
ISPs collect a huge amount data, including personal information from users. In October 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to require ISPs to seek out their users’ permission to sell that data. The new vote overrules that, putting ISPs in the same category as websites like Facebook and Google, which are overseen by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and therefore subject to much less stringent rules.
Privacy advocates argue that there’s a big difference between ISPs and sites like Google and Facebook. A user, for instance, can easily find alternatives to using Google. If you don’t like its privacy policies, you can choose another search engine. If you don’t want to use Facebook, you don’t have to. Not everyone has multiple options when it comes to an ISP, however, and not using the internet is becoming more and more difficult in modern life. Those in favor of the vote argue that it unfairly puts ISPs at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to online advertising.
The vote has been hailed as a win for ISPs like Comcast and AT&T, but both companies have since come out and vowed not to sell user data without permission following the public outcry. Their current public stance somewhat contradicts their earlier positions on the issue, however.
In March 2016, Comcast issued a statement opposing the FCC’s proposal that would become the law that was recently overturned. Comcast called the proposed rules an “irrational and unjustified set of regulatory shackles on ISPs,” and went on to claim that the rules would “block ISPs from bringing new competition to the online advertising market that could benefit consumers.”
It’s a complex issue, with opponents and allies on both sides but we at Stephouse want to make this very clear: We will never sell your data without your permission. Not ever.
We do not track or monitor your internet history unless you give us permission to troubleshoot a specific problem. We don’t sell user data under any circumstance, and we certainly wouldn’t do so without your approval. To this end, Stephouse Networks has signed the ISP Privacy Pledge.
Along with a growing number of ISPs, Stephouse joined others in agreeing to never share the following data:
- Your browsing history (What websites you visited)
- Your search history (What you searched for online)
- Your geo-location history (Where you are when you use the network)
- Your usage data (When you appear to be at home or at work and using your connection)
- Your purchase history (What you purchased or where it was delivered)
Stephouse is dedicated to protecting our customers regardless of any change to laws and regulations. That will never change.