Compliance Management, Government Regulations, Network Security, Privacy

Activists propose buying lawmakers’ browser histories after Congress revokes FCC privacy rules


Activists outraged over Congress passing a resolution that struck down new FCC rules defending the private data of telecom and ISP customers have pledged to purchase federal lawmakers' browser histories so they can publish them.

Earlier this week, Max Temkin, creator of the popular game Cards Against Humanity, caused a frenzy after tweeting that he would "buy the browser history of every congressman and congressional aide and publish it" if Congress passed the legislation S.J.Res.34, which quashed rules that would have prevented telecom and broadband service providers from selling consumer data without their consent, among other protections.

The tweet would later become the number-one story on Reddit, Temkin noted.

Temkin, who is encouraging donations to digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and has pledged to match up to $10,000 in said donations, cautioned Reddit readers readers that his plan would take time to execute. For that matter, bill hasn't even been signed into law, and it is unclear what specific data would even be available to buy.

Indeed, The Verge has reported that The Telecommunications Act largely prohibits the sharing of individually identifiable customer information (as opposed to aggregate customer information), making it unlikely that one could feasibly buy and publish a specific individual's data.

Noting that there is currently nothing to buy, Temkin also urged readers to be skeptical of various crowdsourcing campaigns that were recently launched to collect funds for purchasing legislators' browsing histories.

Among the most popular crowdsourcing efforts is a GoFundMe page started by Adam McElhaney, a privacy activist and net neutrality advocate from Chattanooga, Tenn., who as of Thursday morning has raised nearly $160,000 for "purchasing the Internet histories of all legislators, congressmen, executives, and their families and [making] them easily searchable at"

McElhaney said that he would publish the information regardless of its sensitivity, including search results related to health, finances, pornography and infidelities. On his crowdsourcing page, McElhaney assured potential donors that he would refund them or, if they prefer, gift the funds to the EFF or ACLU if he is unable to complete his objective.

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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