It seems anger has gotten the better of people’s common sense.
A crop of GoFundMe campaigns are seeking money from Internet users to purchase and reveal lawmakers’ browsing histories in retaliation for the House’s recent 215-205 vote to revoke broadband privacy rules.
Although many of these campaigns appear to be well-intentioned, they are also misleading because what they are setting out to accomplish cannot, in fact, be done, no matter how much money is raised.
“These campaigns — while probably well-intentioned as political protests — are disingenuous as what they describe simply isn’t possible. Unless they make it clear that they’re actually raising money for charity, the campaigns are violating GoFundMe terms which forbid ‘impossible’ campaigns,” GoFraudMe’s Adrienne Gonzalez told CrowdFundInsider. “Congress’ Internet history is not and will not be for sale no matter how much is raised. I’d encourage anyone considering making a donation to one of these campaigns to donate directly to a privacy watchdog group such as Electronic Frontier Foundation instead.”
One of said campaigns, which was started by actor Misha Collins, had raised just shy of $ 65,000 as of this morning. Collins’ goal? To raise $ 500 million.
“Congress recently voted to strip Americans of their privacy rights by voting for SJR34, a resolution that allows Internet Service Providers to collect, and sell your sensitive data without your consent or knowledge. Since Congress has made our privacy a commodity, let’s band together to buy THEIR privacy,” Collins wrote. “This GoFundMe will pay to purchase the data of Donald Trump and every Congressperson who voted for SJR34, and to make it publicly available. PS: No, we won’t “doxx” people. We will not share information that will impact the safety & security of their families (such as personal addresses). However, all other details are fair game. It says so right in the resolution that they voted to approve. Game on, Congress.”
Collins said if the data cannot be bought, all proceeds of his campaign will go to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Another successful campaign, run by software engineer and so-called privacy activist Adam McElhaney, had brought in nearly $ 155,000 as of this morning. McElhaney’s Instagram account describes him as a”Net neutrality advocate” and an “Illuminati member.”
“I plan on purchasing the Internet histories of all legislators, congressmen, executives, and their families and make them easily searchable at searchinternethistory.com,” McElhaney wrote. “Everything from their medical, pornographic, to their financial and infidelity. Anything they have looked at, searched for, or visited on the Internet will now be available for everyone to comb through. Help me raise money to buy the histories of those who took away your right to privacy for just thousands of dollars from telephone and ISPs. Your private data will be bought and sold to marketing companies, law enforcement. Let’s turn the tables. Let’s buy THEIR history and make it available.”
Unlike Collins, McElhaney did not say what would happen to the money if his goal proved impossible. He took to Twitter today, however, to address the naysayers to say his plan is completely plausible.
“I’m all for wacky clever revenge plots, but this one just looks like a straight up scam,” the Tech Crunch article reads. “Whether self-proclaimed privacy activist Adam McElhaney means well or not (and he may), this campaign just doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
And the Verge’s headline says it all: “You can’t buy Congress’ Web history — stop trying.”
The uproar began Tuesday when the House backed the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution passed by the U.S. Senate last week. The resolution repeals the rules put in place last fall by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would have forced Internet service providers (ISPs) to notify customers of the types of information they collect, explain how and for what purpose the data is collected and identify with whom they share the data.
Now, if President Donald Trump signs the legislation — and he is expected to do just that — companies like AT&T, Comcast or Verizon can collect and share your data with paying third parties without censure. If Trump signs, the CRA will also effectively prevent the FCC from writing a new set of privacy rules.
The movement to repeal the rules put in place by former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democrat, began after Ajit Pai, a Republican, took over the chairman’s position in January.
Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.
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