Internet Privacy in 2015. The Good, Bad and Ugly

The internet just keeps getting bigger and bigger, and as it grows, governments around the world seek more and more to control it. 2015 was no different. Whether the topic was net neutrality or Internet privacy, debates were had, laws passed, and standards changed. Let’s take a look back at some of the biggest news from 2015. What do you want first: the good news or the bad?

The Good:

  • Patriot Act expires In mid-2015, several parts of the infamous Patriot Act expired, including the ones considered the most harmful. Could this be a small victory in the larger war for internet privacy?
  • Safe Harbor Agreement collapses Courts ruled that American companies were not doing a good enough job upholding EU citizen’s privacy. This is a small step in the right direction for our internet privacy and a defeat for the large corporations that seek to invade it.
  • Net Neutrality victorious The FCC ruled for protecting internet freedom. It forces companies like Comcast to treat all Internet connections equally. The fight is not over, but this is a win. Our fellow Netizens in Europe did not fare as well.
  • The Freedom Act The Freedom Act is certainly not perfect. However, it is a step in the right direction compared to the Patriot Act. For one, telecommunication companies will now be in control of your data, rather than the government holding it directly.
  • The Bitcoin Revolution A cryptocurrency that helps consumers make purchases more anonymously, Bitcoin is gaining traction. More online businesses are starting to accept it, and some governments and major banks are even looking into the use of bitcoins.

The Bad:

  • Trans-Pacific Partnership pushes forward The truth is, we do not know everything about the TPP yet. That is because the governments involved are trying their best to keep it a secret. What we do know is that it is a threat not only to internet privacy but many other important aspects of our lives, both as citizens and consumers.
  • Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act passes Companies have been collecting or “mining” our information for years. By doing so, they can adjust their marketing and even sell the information to other entities. The newly-passed CISA bill allows and encourages them to share that same data with your country’s government. Needless to say, that is a devastating blow to online privacy.
  • The Onion Router compromised TOR has been considered by many to be something of a gold standard for encryption, security, and privacy online. However, those days may be numbered. As law enforcement agencies seek to crack the code, the TOR browser is beginning to waver under the pressure.
  • Wikipedia threatened One of the biggest advantages of the internet had been the free and unbridled access to information. No longer do you have to pay (other than an internet bill) to read the news or learn from academics. Elsevier would like to end that. By adding paywalls to academic research sites and now Wikipedia, we see this freedom of information slowly being eroded.
  • Encryption scapegoated Even before the deadly Paris attacks; government agencies have been claiming that terrorist groups are using encryption to communicate while avoiding the watchful eyes of law enforcement. For one, this is not always true. Moreover, second, it is being used as an excuse to keep encryption out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.
  • The Freedom Act part Deux Yes it is here as well. Some say it is the Patriot Act reworded.

The Ugly – Internet Privacy in 2016

The truth is we are slowly giving away our right to be forgotten, and many of the things considered good today are being eroded. Net Neutrality is far from guaranteed and depending on who we elect it could get overturned completely. The past year has been filled with ups and downs when it comes to our online privacy and security. The coming year will be no different. Stay tuned for the latest news, and remember to protect yourself with LiquidVPN.