ProgressNow Colorado says it plans to buy U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s internet browsing history once it goes on the market and share it with the public in response to the Yuma Republican’s vote last week to allow internet service providers to sell customers’ data without their permission.
The progressive advocacy organization said in an email to supporters Thursday that it also plans to shop for internet data generated by U.S. Reps. Scott Tipton, Doug Lamborn and Ken Buck, three other Colorado Republicans who voted in favor of legislation to overturn consumer privacy rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in the final months of the Obama administration.
“They want to sell off our right to privacy? That means theirs is up for grabs, too,” writes Ian Silverii, ProgressNow Colorado’s executive director, in a fundraising email, which asks for contributions to help cover the costs.
“I believe the privacy of my constituents, and other internet users, is an issue where the government needs to tread very carefully,” Coffman said in a statement after the vote. “I do not believe we should permit private corporations to take advantage of our information for their use and profit.” Declaring that the right to privacy is embedded in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, Coffman added that he “chose to oppose the resolution as a reaffirmation in my belief in our founding document.”
The Senate approved the legislation a week ago on a 50-48 party-line vote, with every Democrat voting against it.
The resolution is headed to President Donald Trump’s desk, and the White House said Wednesday that Trump plans to sign it, Reuters reported.
The rules would have prevented internet service providers from sharing or selling without permission a trove of information gathered from customers, including health and financial information, web browsing and search histories and data about app use. The rules also would have required ISPs to notify customers in the event of a data breach. Lawmakers are invoking the rarely-used Congressional Review Act to undo the rules.
Silverii points to campaign finance data showing that Gardner reaped more than $95,000 from the telecommunications industry for his most recent campaign — Buck took in $15,750, Lamborn hauled in $28,400 and Tipton banked $23,500 — and draws a connection to the vote.
“If big telecom corporations are going to get in the business of selling our personal data and browsing history to the highest bidder because of what Cory Gardner and Donald Trump are pushing, then we’re going to get into the business of becoming the highest bidder for those Colorado Republicans who sold us out for campaign contributions,” Silverii told The Colorado Statesman.
Silverii acknowledged that it’s too early to know whether individual browsing histories and other consumer data will be readily available or what price the info might command but suggested the organization should be able to handle it.
“The response to our appeal so far leads me to believe that we’ll be able to afford Gardner, Buck, Lamborn and Tipton’s data,” he said.