Verizon's Acquisition of Yahoo Proves We Need Broadband-Privacy Rules --- and Quick

As if we needed more evidence that internet service providers want to profit from your data, there’s a mega-merger in the works designed to help Verizon do just that.

ISPs like Verizon want to leverage their position as the gateway to the internet to monitor your traffic and sell targeted advertising using your personal information without your consent. And Verizon confirmed Monday that it plans to acquire Yahoo for $4.83 billion in cash, building on its acquisition of AOL last year. If this deal goes through as the AOL purchase did, the company will own two ’90s-era internet giants that have since turned into valuable advertising and media platforms.

Verizon’s stated desire — to “accelerate [its] revenue stream in digital advertising”— threatens to end the average consumer’s ability to protect their privacy online. As Free Press has written, in contrast to social media platforms, search engines and media sites, ISPs have a comprehensive window into all of their customers’ browsing histories, the unencrypted messages they send, and the videos they watch. ISPs are sitting on a treasure trove of personal information they now want to use and sell at their customers’ expense.

Antitrust regulators are unlikely to postpone or block this merger. In light of its potential harms it’s clearer than ever that internet users need strong broadband privacy protections. That’s why Free Press supports an FCC proposal, based on Section 222 of the Communications Act, that would require ISPs to obtain their customers’ consent before selling their personal information to marketers and data brokers.

The FCC should issue its final rules in the next few months. It’s vital that the Commission hear the voices of consumers and protect internet users’ privacy.

Verizon’s spent billions making it clear what it wants to do with your personal information. Make your opinion clear too. Write to the FCC and tell it that internet users — not giant corporations — should have control over this sensitive data.

Original photo by Flickr user Yuri Samoilov