Internet Privacy Regulations

Earlier this year, Congress repealed a congressional act that was designed to prevent certain sized companies from collecting, using, and selling online activity information without permission. This media attention has caused many people to look further into the regulations affecting privacy and the government’s efforts to keep up with the frequently advancing technology. As people are spending more time online and connecting to devices which use the internet of things, it is important to be aware of what data is being collected and which companies are selling that data. It is also important to stay updated on which regulations are giving companies more power to collect data and which are aimed at protecting consumers.

It’s no secret that your online activity reveals a great deal about you. Everything from your brand preferences and shopping habits to personal information such as banking institutions and health concerns is shown online. This information can be sold to advertisers so they can more strategically target people for advertisements. However, recent regulations have raised user concerns about the security of this information on the legality of ISPs collecting this data. This is because unlike browser data collection, ISP collection is much harder to regulate and there are fewer choices in ISP providers for customers to choose from.

With the repeal of this act, there will be no changes in the way companies collect and sell user data. However, it does bring to light the lack of regulation surrounding these major companies’ activities. Currently, the FTC is in charge of ensuring that telecommunications carriers keep user data confidential unless they receive authorization to release the data. At the end of last year, the FTC also cracked down on one company who was using “supercookies”. The FCC required this company to disclose the scope of information it was tracking and create an opt-out option for customers who wish to remain untracked.  This year, the FTC and the State of New Jersey were awarded $2.2 million dollars in reparations from VIZIO, who was charged with collecting data from 11 million TVS to use for sale to third parties and misrepresenting their security practices.

There are many other historic and active lawsuits aimed at protecting consumer privacy but it will be hard for the government to stay ahead of the constantly advancing technology. Organizations such as the Digital Advertising Alliance, and the Network Advertising Initiative are working to create self-regulation and responsible practices for targeted advertising. Stay tuned to our blog to stay updated on regulations affecting consumer privacy, the latest technology advancements, and Westech’s products and services!