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Don't Dox the Dick

Don't Dox the Dick

Last week, I put out a call to action to contact your Congressional Representative because of a bill that had passed, with little fanfare, the Senate aimed at removing Obama-era privacy protections for consumer privacy.  While over 1,000 of you responded to this request, the measure unfortunately passed the House and the 100 pages of FCC regulations aimed at protecting user privacy is now no more.

While the Internet was outraged by a, now redacted, article posted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), about a test program that users can opt-out of, Internet Service Providers (ISP) have not yet rapidly capitalized on the release of these regulations. In fact, the first people to capitalize on this loosening of regulations have been the people who most opposed their loosening in the first place! Self-proclaimed privacy advocate Adam McElhaney, has set up a viral GoFundMe page with the intent to crowdfund the money required to purchase the internet history of the Senators and Representatives who voted for these rollbacks.

This is dangerous.

Dog Whistle Politics Attack Consumer Privacy (Again)

Dog Whistle Politics Attack Consumer Privacy (Again)

In a quiet press release, lost among the battle to defeat the disastrous Affordable Care Act repeal U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz) introduced a bill to gut the regulatory power of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC).  The joint resolution is extremely short, stating that the Senate "disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to 'Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunication Services,' and such rule shall have no force or effect." 

Senator Flack, a huge recipient of the extremely conservative Club for Growth PAC, is more concerned with repealing everything Obama touched than he is in understanding the personal journey that privacy necessitates, or the implications a repeal of these rules would have on technology and the economy.

Cable Cutting

You've probably heard a lot about Netflix and Hulu; Roku and Chromecast; cable cutting or using the Internet to get your TV, but are you really using these solutions to their fullest extent?  Do you actually save any money in the long term? Is it feasible for you?  I use Netflix to stream archived movies and episodic television shows, Hulu to stream day-old content, and Plex to stream local content, and web content that is otherwise unavailable (e.g. How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory).  Once it's all set up, the process is actually pretty simple: I pull the app up on Roku or smartphone and get ready to stream my local content or binge watch my favorite Netflix show.  But that doesn't really help you find out what works for you, does it?

Assuming your cable costs are average ($60/mo), then a pay-off date for your cable-cutting system will be fairly easy to figure out.  The graph below outlines two types of cable cutters, your Basic Cable Cutters which will be served by Option One below, and your Advanced Cable Cutters which are served by Option Two below.  We'll get into what the options mean in the next section, but for now take a look at the graph.

Operating Costs (Running Totals)

As you can see, the red line (Cable) costs grow by $60 every month, whereas the Cable Cutter options only grow by $16 every month (Hulu and Netflix), but start $300 or $700 higher than Cable due to the cost of buying your own equipment.