OK, so this is bad. But as always, read up on this and on what you can do to protect yourself. Here are a few pieces to start. Readers, please do add in your own suggestions (both habit and reading) in the comments, or send to me via Twitter.
The Washington Post:
In a party-line vote, House Republicans freed Internet service providers such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast of protections approved just last year that had sought to limit what companies could do with information such as customer browsing habits, app usage history, location data and Social Security numbers. The rules also had required providers to strengthen safeguards for customer data against hackers and thieves.
From the left:
“Today’s vote means that Americans will never be safe online from having their most personal details stealthily scrutinized and sold to the highest bidder,” said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy.
And from the right:
”[Consumer privacy] will be enhanced by removing the uncertainty and confusion these rules will create,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who chairs the House subcommittee that oversees the FCC.
Privacy will be enhanced? Give me a break.
The New York Times:
The bill not only gives cable companies and wireless providers free rein to do what they like with your browsing history, shopping habits, your location and other information gleaned from your online activity, but it would also prevent the Federal Communications Commission from ever again establishing similar consumer privacy protections.
There’s so much more to this. Read up on what’s just happened, then consider what it means to you, consider changing some online habits. With that in mind, a bit more reading:
The Tor Project: Read about anonymity and how Tor works, consider downloading Tor or a similar browser. At the very least, this will put one level of indirection between your internet travels and your IP address.
How to Go Invisible Online by Kevin Mitnick: This is a very understandable detailed practical guide. Though the focus is on email, it will help you understand how tracking works, how to insert encryption into the process.
VPNs are for most people, including you: What is a VPN? Why use one? Good explanations here.
I’m far from an expert on this stuff, so please do weigh in if there are better explanations, better resources to consider.