In a bit of epic trolling, Bloomberg's editorial board published a piece1 this week praising Trump and Congress for their efforts to continue permitting ISP's to sell your personal browsing data for a profit. The specious arguments drip with willful stupidity from the first sentence, and the piece just gets more dumb as it goes on:
On one issue, at least, President Donald Trump has united the country: More than 70 percent of the public -- across political parties -- oppose a bill he signed that rolls back rules protecting online privacy. Unfortunately, it's an issue on which Trump and the Republican Congress happen to be mostly right.
One might argue that in a democracy, the will of the people determines what is right...but OK, sure, whatever. The overall gist of this tragically wrong hot take seems to be the following:
- Forcing ISP's to refrain from selling browser data unless customers opt in would drive up the price of broadband service;
- Facebook and Google are already tracking you anyway, so like, whatevs;
- The free market would bring us a privacy paradise if only silly protestors and other jerks would just let business happen as God intended. ISP's should hold your browsing history hostage for a monthly ransom of $40—everybody wins!
None of this holds up to even a brief moment of logical examination, unless you happen to be a lobbyist for Comcast.
While a federal regulation requiring that a consumer consent before her data is sold for somebody else's profit might hurt Comcast's bottom line (boo-hoo), practices which are repugnant are not made less repugnant when someone profits from them.
The fact that some companies are already peeping while we go about our business does not, as even a three-year-old should understand, give other companies the same right automatically. An adult is arguing that bad things are OK if other people are already doing bad things? Seriously?
I honestly (and obviously) do think many customers will pay for a service that honors their privacy. Paying a premium for privacy on top of a fee paid for a monopolistic utility is another thing entirely. I don't think referring to such a premium as a ransom is a stretch at all. Bloomberg's editorial board is nuts.
I hesitate to link to the article because I don't think anyone deserves to benefit from the page view--so if you click through, make sure your ad blocker is activated. ↩