Late last year, I wrote about online privacy, particularly the possibility of identity theft through cell phone numbers, and the necessity of using secure passwords to protect personal information. The topic is relevant to New York bankruptcy debtors because identity theft can lead to serious financial difficulties. But late October 2016 brought good news to consumers: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enacted a new rule that limited how internet service providers (ISPs) could use their customers’ information. Those rule, however, might be abolished with the political change in Washington.
As a background: ISPs are users’ gateways to the Internet—no matter what kind of device they are using (computers, tablets, cell phones, etc.). All information a user accesses or provides must pass through an ISP’s system, and this includes every type of personal and private information imaginable: bank account numbers, Social Security information, health statuses, job information—just about anything that’s important to consumers. Like all sensitive information, it’s quite valuable, and what’s more, given the large number of people ISPs serve, they can gather a lot of information on many people. This gives them an opportunity to make a lot of money selling that information to third parties for the purpose of targeted advertising, but on top of that, there’s a risk that the more places this information is stored, the more likely it is to be breached. Apparently, merely selling Internet access isn’t the only way to make money.
The FCC rule in a sense merely modernizes how corporations treat users’ information. Similar rules have long been in place for telephone companies to prevent mistreatment of call data. Nonetheless, the ISPs opposed it with fairly weak arguments. For instance, the FCC’s rule doesn’t affect Web companies, like Facebook, which gather personal information and can (and do) easily resell that information to third parties for advertising purposes. The problem with that position, though, is that users don’t need Web sites like Facebook to use the Internet, but they do need ISPs. Beyond that, the ISPs’ advocates claim without much support that the rule doesn’t advance the FCC’s goal of protecting consumer privacy.
The Washington Post covered the future of the FCC rule here.
If your sensitive financial information on the Internet has been compromised, and it’s contributing to serious financial problems, then consulting with an experienced New York bankruptcy lawyer can help you assess your options.
For answers to more questions about bankruptcy, the automatic stay, effective strategies for dealing with foreclosure, and protecting your assets in bankruptcy please feel free to contact experienced Brooklyn bankruptcy attorney Bruce Weiner for a free initial consultation.