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GoFundMe Campaigns Raise Nearly $300,000 To Buy Congress' Internet Data

Wayne Duggan

Several American individuals and organizations with a passion for internet privacy are attempting to take what they see as a dangerous new law signed by President Donald Trump and use it against Congress and the president.

Saying Bye And Buy To Internet Privacy

Trump signed a law repealing an Obama administration ban on internet service providers (ISPs) collecting and selling user data, including browser history data, to advertisers.

#Resist

Within 24 hours of the signing, a GoFundMe page was created by activist Adam McElhaney with the goal of raising $10,000 to buy the browser histories of politicians. The crowdfunding page had raised $210,000 as of midday Thursday.

“I plan on purchasing the Internet histories of all legislators, congressmen, executives and their families and [making] them easily searchable at searchinternethistory.com,” the page reads.

Other similar campaigns, such as a GoFundMe started by actor Misha Collins, have also experienced success due to Americans' frustration with the idea of ISPs profiting off of their data. Collins' GoFundMe had raised nearly $89,000 as of midday Thursday. Opponents of the law say that ISPs like Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), AT&T Inc (NYSE: T) and Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA) shouldn't be allowed to collect and sell their customers’ data without consent.

Supporters of the law say prohibiting ISPs from these practices would give website and app operators like Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB) an unfair advantage over IPSs when it comes to data collection and online advertising.

Facebook and Google’s data collection practices will not be impacted by the new law. Both companies will be allowed to continue to collect data on their customers and sell it to advertisers.

An Exercise In Futility?

Unfortunately, the plan to make an example of Congress and Trump has little chance of working.

“The IPSs aren’t going to want to sell to an individual or someone they don’t have an existing relationship with,” Blade Technologies consultant Scott Schaffer said. “Getting the personally identifiable information would also be an issue.”

Collins has pledged that if his efforts to buy congressional data fail, 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union. Together, Collins and McElhaney's campaigns have raised more than $295,000 so far.

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