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Goodbye, Sweet Privacy

by Jess Weiss

President Trump recently signed legislation that will get rid of the privacy rules put in place by the Obama administration. These ruled required internet service providers, or ISPs, to get your consent before selling or sharing your web browsing and other private, personal information.

President Trump took the bill that was passed by the Obama administration out of circulation. He also made it so that the Federal Communications Commission wouldn’t be allowed to pass new rules.

ISPs complained that the Obama bill put their providers at a disadvantage, taking away a big part of what they did as a company. If the bill would have passed, ISPs wouldn’t have been able to take the information they wanted without consent, and most people would not have agreed to letting a company take their personal information and browsing history.

Dr. William Pamerleau, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Pitt-Greensburg, shared his thoughts on the ethics of the selling of one’s private information.

“There has been an ethical concern since the 1950’s that advertisement creates wants in us that do not really come from us or are necessarily in our best interest, but are instead in the best interests of the businesses who sell the products,” Pamerleau said. “In short, advertising manipulates us into being the sort of consumers businesses would like us to be.  This effect is greatly accelerated by the ability for advertisers to use data sold to them by Internet service providers and media sources like Google and Facebook”

Currently, if you Google search a product, or go onto Amazon.com and search for something, there is a high chance that you will see advertisements for the object that you searched for on other websites, such as Facebook. This is because the ISPs for these websites sell your information to other websites. Unfortunately, that is not going to end. However, some broadband companies, such as Comcast and Verizon, released statements saying that they would not take part in the selling of customer’s information, regardless of what other companies were doing.

“If you think this sort of manipulation is unethical, then it makes sense that there should be more limitations on how easy your information can be gathered and sold,” Pamerleau said.

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