The Hill has the details of Blackburn’s bill which are exactly what the right said they wanted when they repealed the FCC’s pending privacy rules. Worth noting is that this would apply to ISPs and content companies alike along with moving oversight and enforcement to the FTC. No idea if this will shore up the FTC’s authority but the concern I have is its track record in this space, which is not great, and the fact that it traditionally has had far fewer staff technologists to help with efforts like these than the FCC.
I stopped using Thunderbird some time ago in favor of the email client that is part of my Linux distribution. I recognize the importance of Thunderbird given how webmail has generally erode the ability for regular folks have to have secure and confidential email correspondence. I am glad to see the project find new footing and a means to sustain.
This is an episode of The Command Line Podcast.
I talk about the privacy rules repeal at the FCC and the fight starting to shape up again over network neutrality.
- Important, clear background on the FCC privacy rules repeal
- Detailed coverage of the House vote to repeal FCC privacy rules
- The limits of using a VPN to protect your privacy
- Think twice about signal jamming ISPs tracking
- Guide and recommendations for privacy protection by VPN
- Senate dem questions Pai on FCC net neutrality roll back
- GOP aims at FCC net neutrality repeal
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I submit that this trend of revealing private online activity through second and third order effects, like fingerprinting network packet headers as described in this research, is why we still need to push for better privacy norms and regulations. There is never likely to be a perfect privacy solution, we’ll always need some reasonable expectations and legal protections as well.
The article mentions Berners-Lee receiving the Turing Award, often called the Nobel prize for computing. The really interesting part is the description of Solid, his work to try to crack loose personal data from the central stores where it accumulates today, in order to restore control to users of where and how their data is accessed and used. Efforts along this line aren’t new, as the article notes the are increasingly relevant as traditional protections for online privacy are increasing eroded.
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The proposal in Minnesota still has a few steps before becoming state law. Proponents are definitely capitalizing on the attention garnered by the repeal of the FCC rules. ISPs may not have liked the federal rules, I can almost guarantee that if other states follow suit, they will like it even less. A state level push back could create a minefield that the larger ISPs would have to navigate, likely leading to them taking the most conservative approach rather than incurring the cost of state by state compliance.
The pull quote nails it in a nutshell. The article is still worth reading just as new projects like Internet Noise still have value even if not for the apparent purpose: they raise awareness of the trails you leave online and how they may be used in ways with which you are not strictly comfortable.
Karl Bode at Techdirt highlights some important limitations to understand as folks rush to setup VPNs and Tor as protection against ISP overreach. Even if your traffic at your ISP is protected, it will still have to traverse at least one ISP, and likely several, on the other end who may still find value in monitoring your traffic. VPNs and Tor aren’t supported on all devices, setting them up on a home router is that much more difficult, if even possible. Bode’s sources are credible, I’ve worked with some of the network researchers he cites and quotes in this article.