In case you didn’t have enough blood-sucking tech giants out there hoovering up as much of your data as possible to worry about, it looks like you should probably add your internet service provider (ISP) to the list.
A new report from the FTC shows that our ISPs are probably collecting far more of our data than most of us realize. The report looked at six different ISPs, including Verizon Wireless, Comcast Xfinity, and AT&T Mobile, which provide around 98% of America with internet service.
The findings that the FTC found in its report are pretty alarming. Because many of these companies have evolved past simple ISPs, offering other services like advertising, smart devices, and more, the amount of data that they have access to is continuing to increase.
Several of the ISPs that the FTC studied were found to have some sketchy practices in data collection, like combining data gathered across different products for user profiles, using that combined data for targeted advertising, and even placing users in sensitive groups based on things like race and sexual orientation.
Additionally, the FTC found that many of these ISPs have been sharing user data with third parties, despite the promise from some that user data would never be sold. Information such as real-time location data is being shared with various third parties without reasonable protections for consumers.
Though most of these ISPs claim to offer ways to control how much data they collect, the FTC says that providers purposely make it difficult for a user to control how their data is used.
Reports like this shouldn’t really be that surprising anymore. If we’ve learned anything over the last decade with the rise in social media and massive tech companies, it’s that the consumers are no longer the customers. We are the product. Even when it comes to our ISPs that we pay monthly for the right to access the internet.
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