Last fall, we were pleased to report that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had passed new regulations that prevented Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from sharing the private data of consumers unless the consumer gave express consent to disclose search histories and location data. The regulations also included a provision for protecting consumers from hackers. That win for privacy didn’t last.
According to WIRED, the FCC has suspended the data security rule (the portion that required ISPs to protect customers' data from hacking and security breaches) before it ever took effect. The reason? The commission is concerned that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may soon implement rules regulating how much personal data individual websites like Google and Facebook can collect, and they don’t want to create a confusing and divergent list of restrictions for the providers themselves. (The FCC is charged with handling carriers, while the FTC’s purview includes specific sites.)
If you prefer not to wait for all this bureaucracy to decongest itself, there are still steps you can take to minimize your personal information being shared. To prevent Google from keeping tabs on your physical location via mobile devices, go to your Timeline and click "Pause Location History" as well as "Delete Location History." Under Privacy, slide the "Location Reporting" button off.
You can also use a virtual private network, or VPN, to hide your IP address from your ISP. Most browsers also offer privacy settings that allow you to browse without saving cookies or your search history, although that won’t stop your ISP from being able to examine your data.