Turning the Ingenious Tables: Buying the Right To the Privacy Of Those Who Sold Yours


If You Can't Beat 'Em Join 'Em Dept: Now that Congress has voted to sell your Internet history to the highest bidder - be it telecom giant, marketing company, Big Brother, law enforcement, pushy bank, vengeful ex or anyone with any questionable agenda - a new crowdfunding campaign wants to raise enough money to buy the histories of those GOP leaders and lobbying racketeers who sold yours. The website searchinternethistory.com, one of several proposed resistance efforts, is trying to raise $1 million to bid on the browsing history - financial to medical to pornographic - of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and every member of Congress who voted to gut former Obama-era regulations protecting our browser history from corporate and governmental busybodies. Some  sold their souls and your privacy rights for as little as $300 in donations.


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Adam McElhaney, the creator of the GoFundMe campaign, describes himself as a privacy activist, net neutrality advocate and Tennessee engineer who acknowledges the privacy risks of social media but doesn't believe "browsing history should be bought and sold to whoever - without my consent.” Citing the estimated 50 Republicans lobbied by Telecom and other corporate giants simply so they can make more money, McElhaney argues, "If all it takes is a million dollars to buy legislators, let’s do it." He proposes setting up a searchable database of browser history for every member of Congress who voted yes; as a bonus, he asks contributors to vote on  "whose history gets bought first." His initial goal was $10,000; in a few days he's raised over $155,000, including many $5 and $10 donations. Those who can't afford to contribute are asked to donate legal or technical skills to the effort. "Since we didn't get an opportunity to vote on whether our private and personal browsing history should be bought and sold, I wanted to show our legislators what a democracy is like," he says. "The change must come from you."


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