The creator of the popular card game Cards Against Humanity has pledged to purchase and publish the internet browsing history of members of Congress who voted to repeal an Obama-era protection that prevented internet service providers from collecting and selling users’ personal information.
Max Temkin issued the threat earlier this week after the Senate voted to roll back the privacy protections for your browsing data. “If this shit passes I will buy the browser history of every congressman and congressional aide and publish it,” Temkin wrote on Twitter.
Temkin will have his chance to make good on his threat, as the U.S. House of Representatives followed in the footsteps of the Senate by voting primarily on party lines to repeal the Broadband Consumer Privacy Act. The bill now heads to the desk of President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it into law.
However, it’s worth noting that this likely isn’t possible. In most cases, data is at least somewhat anonymized—though often not anonymized enough for the liking of the privacy minded. The Telecommunications Act explicitly prohibits companies from sharing “individually identifiable” information, save for a couple specific situations.
The new broadband privacy bill effectively killed off protections put in place by the Federal Communications Commission under the leadership of Barack Obama-appointee Tom Wheeler that would have required ISPs to ask for permission before collecting any sensitive information including web browsing history.
With those rules eliminated, ISPs will be able to continue to collect information about user activities. Temkin wants to turn the tables on the legislators that made that possible by getting ahold of their own data.
According to Temkin, “IP blocks of congressmen and congressional staffers are known” and he would intend to purchase those blocks to publish.
Temkin did warn against crowdfunding campaigns promising to collectively purchase the browsing history of U.S. legislators. “Be wary of Kickstarters to buy this data, it doesn't exist and isn't for sale yet. Nobody knows what they're talking about,” he said on Twitter.
Several crowdfunding efforts have cropped up in the days following the repeal of the Broadband Consumer Privacy Rules, including a GoFundMe that has raised $165,000 and another that has raised $70,000 —money that likely will not go toward its intended purpose.