Taking out politics aside (I am an independent), our congressman, Leonard Lance, just sold out our privacy for a measly $43,000 ¹ contribution to his campaign on his last election by his telecom buddies. Even though our senators didn’t voted for it, it still went through.

I know that in 2017, everyone is somewhat ambivalent about how much we can protect our privacy. But that’s not really the case here. Yes, Google and Facebook collect your information too. But the thing is if you don’t like Google, you can use Bing. If you don’t like Android, you can use an iPhone. If you don’t like Facebook, you can use Snapchat. You have options. But you are pretty much stuck with your ISP, your internet and wireless providers. At the end of the day, I want to have the final say on who gets access to my privacy  and not some random corporate executive who is only looking at profit margins.

For me at home, I only have a choice between Verizon and Optimum. I currently have Verizon and it’s hard to switch providers. I haven’t had good experience with Optimum. I am pretty much stuck with Verizon. For our cellphones, we have monthly installment commitments and what not. Again, it’s hard to switch, especially for your entire family. What that means is you no longer have control over who has access to your privacy: your web browsing history, your location history, your app use history, list of all your family, friends and colleagues. And they ISPs are ready to exploit their new found freedom ². And worst of all, that information will be attached to you and is open to the highest bidder. The not so funny part is the ISPs are not even require to let you know before they sell you off.

So, let’s go back to how much your privacy is worth. For Congressman Lance, it’s obviously $43,000 for an election cycle of 2 years. But how much does it cost you and the 7th district? Well, I can do a simplified cost calculation based on my experience. To protect my privacy from the my ISPs, I am now paying for a VPN (virtual private network) service called Private Internet Access. It costs $7 per month, unless you pay yearly. Also using the VPN, I suffered a speed lost, which I am valuing at $20 per month based on Verizon pricing. So, I will only calculate based on the two factors. That means, for my household, it cost $648 for the two year term that the congressman Lance got. If we calculate the cost for the entire district with 265,736 ³ households, we are looking at $172 million. Here is the link (https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2017/04/heres-how-protect-your-privacy-your-internet-service-provider)  to how to protect your privacy from the ISPs from the eff.org.

Was that a good deal? If so, for who? Definitely not Congressman Lance and absolutely not the 7th district residents.   

Reference:

  1. National Institute on Money in State Politics (FollowTheMoney.org) via The Verge (theverge.com)
  2. Verizon’s AppFlash: Pre-Installed Spyware Is Still Spyware (eff.org)
  3. 7th District of New Jersey – Interactive Map (lance.house.gov)

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