Commodifying your online life


By Karlee Robinson


Knowledge and information are priceless — or at least they should be. Under Trump’s administration, the privacy of our information will soon be compromised. Recent  controversy has revealed the critical need to develop clear conceptions of our ethical standards and boundaries regarding privacy oof information.

Over the past month, Congress facilitated discussion involving an Obama-era FCC rule which regulated internet providers with matters of consumer privacy. The FCC, or the Federal Communications Commision, is an independent U.S. government agency established to regulate interstate and international communications.

The FCC frames their objective with four strategic goals: promoting economic growth and national leadership, protecting public interest goals, making networks work for everyone, and promoting operational excellence. The effects of these impending changes contradict the specific strategic goal of protecting public interest. These FCC changes are of no benefit to the public and help to monopolize our two greatest assets: information and its accessible distribution.

The Senate passed the resolution early last week and all that’s left to finalize this potentially massive release of private internet data is Trump’s signature. The current administration is enabling internet providers to profit off of our individual internet experiences by selling our data, allowing dominant capitalist powers to flourish. By attributing monetary value to personal information, the FCC is a latent advocate of dehumanizing, neoliberal capitalism.

Where there appear to be limitations on the type of information distributed, these specifications are subject to debate, as individuals utilize internet resources in different ways and for different reasons. There’s more at stake — information of varying value circulating user’s search history — according to individual. The resolution offers ambiguous confirmation of internet providers’ privacy regulations.

Where broadly-influential decisions are an inherent battle between political parties, the principle behind this matter can unify the public through larger mutual concerns. It’s important to consider what this decision could potentially lead to, as the repercussions could be disastrous.

For those arguing these newly defined regulations don’t pose serious and immediate effects, has their seriousness been undermined because of the public’s distance from the decision-making process? Has our passivity limited our direct, emotional connection to an issue that should be viewed with greater intensity? There’s been an absence of intent that has encouraged many to stand witness to changing conditions. I haven’t made any explicit decisions in my individual internet data protection, but will soon observe the explicit effects of these changes in internet privacy.

In recognizing this, I mean to stress the importance of establishing a thorough conception of your ethical standards, so that when they are put up for debate in Congress, you are able to stand your ground. It is pertinent to question executive and legislative action under any presidential administration. Right now, the public is being tested on how  far we will bend, and remain passive, throughout ethically questionable legislation.

Intent is everything. Intentional decision-making and a thorough understanding of the principles behind conflict, adversity and affinity, are necessary in maintaining civic responsibility. In the case of internet privacy laws, take the time to consider the ethics behind compromising personal privacy to forward exploitative capitalist agendas.

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