Ohio needs Internet privacy legislation

To the Editor:

Congress voted to overturn rules created by the Federal Communication Commissions requiring Internet service providers to get permission before using data on customers’ online activity.

Most people can’t simply walk away from their Internet service provider since they need the Internet and have no other options.

What this does is allow Internet providers to track and share people’s browsing and app activity without permission. This means apps used, search history, content of emails, health and financial data can be sold to the highest bidder. The broadband providers have the widest look into Americans’ online habits, and without rules, can sell sensitive information. Internet providers can tell if a person has an illness if the user is browsing medical websites. There is not much they won’t know about you when this happens.

Can you stop providers from collecting data? Yes: call your Internet provider and see if you can opt out of using their data, although figuring out how to do so can be difficult. You can also pay to use a virtual private network, which funnels your Internet traffic through a secure connection that your provider can’t see into.

I commend Senator Sherrod Brown and Congressman Warren Davidson on voting against this bill. This bill is expected to be signed by the president.

Some states like Minnesota and Illinois have introduced legislation to protect Internet users’ private data. Why not Ohio? Call or email your your local representatives and ask them.

Remember your whole family, including children, will soon be under the Internet microscope.

— George Riegle