How to Track What Congress Is Doing on the Internet

Louise Matsakis at Motherboard: “There’s now a way to track what government employees, including elected officials, are doing online during working hours.

A new plugin created by a software engineer in North Carolina lets website administrators monitor when someone accesses their site from an IP address associated with the federal government. It was created in part to protest a piece of legislation the president signed earlier this year.

In April, President Trump signed a measure allowing internet service providers (ISPs) to sell sensitive information about your online habits without needing your consent, rolling back Obama-era regulations intended to stop that very thing from happening.

Corporations like Verizon and AT&T hated the regulations (and spent a boatload lobbying against them), because they made it difficult to monetize the mountain of customer data they have the ability to collect.

Consumers, on the other hand, were outraged, and wondered what could be done to get back at the lawmakers who voted in favor of the measure. One appealing suggestion was to buy and release their browsing history, then release it to the public.

Almost immediately, a handful of GoFundMe pages dedicated to raising money for the cause popped up. While the campaigns are well-intentioned, what their creators don’t realize is that what they want to do is illegal. The Telecommunications Act prohibits sharing (or selling) customer information that is “individually identifiable,” except under special circumstances.

In other words, there’s no database where you can purchase your Congressman’s online porn habits and there likely won’t be anytime soon, even with the data-collection regulations dismantled.

But a new tool created by Matt Feld, the founder of several nonprofits including Speak Together, could help the public get a sense of what elected officials are up to online….(More)”