Browse with caution: Privacy laws on the World Wide Web about to change

Congress votes to repeal internet privacy rules
Posted at 11:16 PM, Mar 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-29 23:16:57-04

Under the new rules website companies and internet providers wouldn't need consumer consent before using precise geolocation, financial information, health information and your family's information and web browsing history for advertising and marketing.

On Tuesday, Congress sent President Donald Trump legislation that would kill an online privacy regulation, a move that could eventually allow internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to sell the browsing habits of their customers.

RELATED: House votes to block Obama-era online privacy rule

“I disagree with the fact that everything you do should be subject to somebody else's view,” USF Computer Science major Ian Guibas said. “It's a reality of the web that you are going to get tracked, but, with the more technical knowledge I found ways you can minimize what gets collected.”

There are some simple steps even people who aren’t tech geeks can do to have less of their data collected.

You can us a Virtual Private Network VPN.  Turn on your browser’s do not track feature, turn off locations based ads on your iPhone. Look for emails from your Internet service provider allowing you to opt out of ad-targeting programs. And, clear or reset the ad ID on your smartphone.

The vote is part of an extensive effort that Republicans have undertaken to void an array of regulations issued during the final months of Democratic President Barack Obama's tenure. But the vote was closer this time with 15 Republicans siding with Democrats in the effort to keep the rule in place.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Republicans put profits over the privacy concerns of Americans.

"Overwhelmingly, the American people do not agree with Republicans that this information should be sold, and it certainly should not be sold without your permission," Pelosi said. "Our broadband providers know deeply personal information about us and our families.”

Some students we spoke to at USF said they didn’t care if anyone knew what they were searching for. Others said they already feel that “big brother” is watching their every move, and they don’t like it.

“I worry especially with Google. I'll go to a restaurant and it will ask me to send pictures of the restaurant I'm at, even though I didn't tell Google or Google it,” student Bethany Holmes said. “It's pretty creepy it feels like they are always watching "they" Google always knows.”

Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas parted ways with his Republican colleagues on the issue. He said the privacy protections were "commonsense measures" that would have ensured internet users continue to have control over their personal information.

"We don't want the government having access to our information without our consent, and the same goes for private business," Yoder said.

In just a day, a GoFundMe account to “Buy Congress’ Data” raised more than $50,000 of a $500 million goal.

The campaign says their goal is to “pay to purchase the data of Donald Trump and every Congressperson who voted for SJR34, and to make it publicly available. In the event that we don't raise enough money to buy the data, all proceeds will go to the ACLU to help fight to protect all Americans' rights.”