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Cruz And Cornyn Co-Sponsored Bill That Allows Your Web Browsing History to be Sold Without Consent

Both Texas senators voted last week to eliminate some federal internet privacy regulations.

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during a news conference about military assistance to Israel at the U.S. Capitol September 20, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The U.S. Senate voted on Thursday to nix Obama-era regulations that required internet service providers (ISPs) to get your permission before they track and sell your data to third parties. The resolution was headlined by Arizona Senator Jeff Flake and was co-sponsored by two dozen other Republicans, including high-profile conservatives like Marco Rubio, Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, and Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

This resolution would essentially turn your web browsing history, in all of its naked shame, into a package to be sold and distributed. For example, let’s say Cruz Googled “Campbell’s Chunky Soup” 43 times over the weekend. Under the resolution he supported, his ISP would be able to sell that data in the corporate world without notifying him. Next time Cruz fires up Internet Explorer, he’d likely be inundated with ads for Campbell’s Chunky Soup.

But this runs deeper than soup. As the digital civil liberties non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation explained in a blog post, allowing ISPs to collect and store large amounts of personal data would potentially make it vulnerable to hackers. “Imagine what could happen if hackers decided to target the treasure trove of personal information Internet providers start collecting,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation writes. “People’s personal browsing history and records of their location could easily become the target of foreign hackers who want to embarrass or blackmail politicians or celebrities.”

In a statement sent from Cruz’s office to Austin ABC affiliate KVUE, the senator said that the FCC rules were federal overreach. “The rule that was overturned [Thursday] passed the FCC by a 3-2 vote ten days before the November elections despite strenuous objections from throughout the Internet community,” the statement said. “It was a clear-cut case of federal government overreach that harms consumers. Sen. Cruz cosponsored this resolution, and was grateful to see it passed by the Senate because the FCC’s proposed ‘privacy’ rules would have severely restricted small businesses, disadvantaged low-income consumers, encouraged disparate treatment of Internet Service Providers and effectively chilled free speech.”

Cornyn argued on the Senate floor before the vote that the FCC regulations “hurt job creators and stifle economic growth,” according to ArsTechnica. As Vocativ notes, Cornyn received nearly $160,000 in political contributions from Internet service providers since 2012, more money than any other senator who supported the resolution. Cruz, meanwhile, took in more than $115,000 from Internet service providers over the same span. The biggest donors were AT&T ($57,000 to Cornyn; $45,500 to Cruz), Verizon ($40,500 to Cornyn; $21,200 to Cruz), and Comcast ($20,300 to Cornyn; $32,800 to Cruz).

The vote was quickly condemned by civil rights advocates. “It is extremely disappointing that the Senate voted… to sacrifice the privacy rights of Americans in the interest of protecting the profits of major internet companies, including Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon,” ACLU Legislative Counsel Neema Singh Guliani said in a statement after the vote. “The resolution would undo privacy rules that ensure consumers control how their most sensitive information is used. The House must now stop this resolution from moving forward and stand up for our privacy rights.”

“These were the strongest online privacy rules to date, and this vote is a huge step backwards in consumer protection writ large,” Dallas Harris, a policy fellow for the consumer group Public Knowledge, told the New York Times. “The rules asked that when things were sensitive, an internet service provider asked permission first before collecting. That’s not a lot to ask.”

The Senate vote squeaked by along party lines, 50-48. It’s unclear when the House will vote or which way the vote will go, but if it does ultimately pass and the FCC rules are eliminated, then there’s no going back. Republicans are employing the Congressional Review Act in an attempt to vote away the regulations, and under that act, the FCC would be prohibited from implementing similar control in the future.

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    Speaking of special interest legislation: Because of JJ’s strongly expressed objection to the bill, I thought I might note that the TLR bill to make it harder to sue for windstorm insurance claims has been revived. The original draft was a blatant example of “overreach” as it appeared to apply to virtually all claims, not just windstorm. To overcome the opposition, the Senate author has introduced another version that covers ONLY windstorm insurance claims. The Texans for Lawsuit Reform, the leader in the effort to restrict the ability of persons to bring law suits, claims that it is necessary because of an explosion in the number of law suits filed for windstorm damages by fee-hunger trial lawyers. (Such claims have grown from .01% of all windstorm claims to 2% over the past few years). The House version will be heard in a committee this week. (JJ it may be time to again ask your rep. where he stands. If I remember correctly, lsst time you reported that he said he has some “concerns” the bill.) Last session the more restricted version of the bill passed the Senate but died in the House. Only time will tell whether it will do better this session.

    • Paulapjones

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    • John Johnson

      Hancock himself told me that changes to his bill were forthcoming weeks ago. While an improvement, I still don’t like it. Big Insurance is doing just fine in TX as their profit margins show. Their willingness to share some of this money with elected officials is the only reason we are seeing this bill.

  • John Bernard Books

    psssst incognito

    • biff

      That won’t do anything. Incognito just doesn’t record history on the device your using it on. Your ISP can sniff any unencrypted traffic they want to. Even if you only visit SSL sites, they’ll still be able to track the DNS lookups.

      • John Bernard Books

        I know but the dummies don’t….why do Geeks have to ruin my pranks?

      • SpiritofPearl

        Booksie’s browsing habits might not be family friendly.

  • roadgeek

    Not good.

  • vippy

    Furious. We get already so much unwanted commercials during a show on TV, so much, that in fact I forgot what I was watching it in the first place. And every utube story has a lengthy commercial so that I don’t even click on it anymore. We don’t have the money anymore to allow us buying, retail is dying for these politicians blocked wage increases for years.

  • SpiritofPearl


  • John Johnson

    More bought votes. Damn the consumer.

  • Michael McMurtrey

    I hope voters remember this the next time these two scumbags come up for re-election.

    • anonyfool

      It won’t matter one bit. 74% of GOP voters believe Trump’s discredited wiretap claims. If the vast majority of GOP voters believed Trump when he said this the first time, they’re not going to be smart enough to realize this isp policy is not good.


      • John Johnson

        Do you believe what is being reported? That random intelligence was being gathered on those having conversations with the Russians who were on Trump’s advisory staff? It seems clear that there was. Was it illegally passed on downline with names exposed to those not authorized to receive same? It seems so. Was Podesta advising Obama and Clinton while on the board of a company paid $35M from a Russian bank associated with Putin as a reported “shell” bank? It seems so.

        It would appear that we have an intelligence community run amok; one that has become politicalized.

        Who among us does not want all this stink fully exposed, even if it means Trump is impeached and Hillary ends up in jail? I know that I do.

        If there is cancer, it needs to be cut out …regardless of the short term effects. The health and survival of the union depends on it. That’s my take.

        • anonyfool

          You are conflating a half dozen different conspiracy theories. We can eliminate all of the Clinton related ones because she lost the electoral college and the election so it doesn’t matter – influence buying with the losing side is kind of the stupidest thing in the world to care about if the executive branch/Presidency of the United States is compromised. The executive branch/GOP aisle of the legislative branch of the USA appears to have switched side from Western Europe to *evil empire* Russia within one election cycle. Most of Trump’s rants ignore the basic rules of evidence gathering, a President doesn’t order a wiretap, law enforcement or someone equivalent for FISA does it and asks a judge or judicial panel for a wiretap. All of Trump’s rants appeal to people who get their facts about the way government works from the TV show 24 or movies (essentially direct from Breitbart/Infowars/Fox news), not real life or high school civics. Nunes claim is without merit – as far as we can tell, he made the whole thing up the same way Trump made up everything – last year when he was on the campaign trail.

  • John Bernard Books

    I’m ok with republicans buying votes too. If you 47%ers want them to stop buying votes then hold dem politicians to the same standards.
    “Naw JBB vote buying is a dem right”

  • Kathleen Stoughton-Trahan

    This will make it much easier for us to know just what these scum bags are doing. They don’t seem to realize that they too will be spied on. Also here is a site that will tell you how to secure your browser to keep your computer safe. https://medium.freecodecamp.com/how-to-set-up-a-vpn-in-5-minutes-for-free-and-why-you-urgently-need-one-d5cdba361907#.t0zu3d5ak

  • Sam Jacinto

    The elected protectors of our rights are on the job…for big money donors.

  • Casey

    Bought and paid.

  • This likely goes much deeper than simply political contributions. My theory is they are trying to further a Republican advantage via the manipulation of public opinion through electronic means. From what I have read, Cruz used a company called Cambridge Analytica during his primary run, and Trump used it towards the end of 2016. This company has software that touts having 5,000 data points on every person(voter) in America. Combining that system with the raw data from the internet service providers would really benefit the system’s artificial intelligence to make it even smarter. They could use the system’s data to geo-target susceptible users in strategic districts with hyper-targeted advertising/messaging (including dark posts) in an attempt to influence an individual user’s opinion. Cambridge Analytica’s system creates what they call “psychographs” aka personality personas that define a user, and that data could likely be used to determine whether or not a user would be subject to influence, based on personality traits and numerous big data reference points the system has already acquired. This includes purchased credit card data, social media posts, likes, left/right leaning and all kinds of other publicly available raw data on an individual. It doesn’t surprise me that these two jokers would push this bill. They are going to need an advantage in the next few years as Texas, long considered a Republican stronghold, is on the verge of a more even split, even after the latest round of gerrymandering. The urban areas are all starting to lean more and more democratic with all the migration from California among other factors. And after the state went absolutely nuts over Devos appointment they are probably scared of women come 2018 and 2020. In Texas, we respect our wives, mothers, girlfriends, sisters, friends, neighbors, and their opinions, so they should be scared. Damn near every woman I know reached out to senators, representatives over this only to get a generic form letter stating Devos was qualified. The policies coming out of the White House and statements made by these two senators lately is dropping public opinion of this bone-headed crew faster than a cheese enchilada goes through a Yankee. The public should be very wary of this bill. If you think this is okay, just wait until the world & technology is even more advanced and the government thinks it has the right to “tell” you how to think.
    Why would this be a Republican only advantage? Because CA is heavily funded by Robert Mercer, a real billionaire & a huge Republican donor. I’ve also read that CA has zero interest in offering their services to Democrats, so the argument that dems would use the system as well, is out. Some other info on this theory, Steve Bannon, “former” CEO of Breitbart is a board member of CA. And Robert Mercer a large investor in: Republicans, Trump, Cambridge Analytica & Breitbart, and he originally backed Cruz for president. Cruz’s team which included KellyAnne Conway, failed with utilizing the software for Cruz. But when KellyAnne and Bannon joined the Trump camp they brought the software’s capabilities to the Trump campaign. That software helped the Trump team tailor his message at geo-targeted rallies that were in swing counties where they also ran hyper targeted advertisements. Trump is President, so the proof of concept has been completed. Now the Republican party will be looking to rollout influence to the masses. F#$%ing political corruption at its finest.

    or think I am some sort of liberal snowflake. You couldn’t be more wrong.

  • John Bernard Books

    My rep Ron Reynolds introduced his bill to raise minimum wage in Texas to $15/hr…..
    “Case in point: Walmart just closed one of its Los Angeles stores over the city’s new $15 minimum wage ordinance.”

    dems only pretend to help their voters…..

    • WestTexan70

      We don’t want or need WM.

      • John Bernard Books

        and your solution is minimum wage…brilliant strategy.

        • WestTexan70

          It is. It’s working nicely in Seattle. You folks just want to keep people in poverty while your rich idols get richer.

  • John Bernard Books


    Texans fired dems over 20 years ago….

  • John Bernard Books

    But are they smart….
    “Curtis Houck at NewsBusters notes that 60 Minutes’ Sunday report, “How Fake News Becomes a Popular, Trending Topic,” admits that the audience for “fake news” tailored to the left is mostly “affluent and college educated.””

    • Eric

      you need to look into “fallacy ref” – also helps to read the damn article.

      • John Bernard Books

        have a grownup explain “click bait” to you……where should I send your t-shirt?

  • Mary Michael

    Lets all take one giant step backwards! Thanks republicans.

  • José

    “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”


    Two thoughts: Whose father-in-law is COMCAST? Who hinted he might run against Cruz?

    • John Johnson

      Please tell us

      • WUSRPH

        I was going to make a correction, but I can do it with this answer. It is not COMCAST but Clear Channels (which recently changed its name to Iheart or something like that). US Rep. Mike McCaul who last year said he was considering running against Cruz.

        “Mike McCaul is married to Linda Mays McCaul. She is the daughter of Clear Channel Communications chairman Lowry Mays and sister of its CEO Mark Mays. In 2011, Roll Call named McCaul as one of the wealthiest members of the United States Congress, surpassing then U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA). His net worth was estimated at $294 million, which is approximately 300% higher than it was in the previous year ($74 million).[15] In 2004, Roll Call estimated his net worth at just $12 million. His wealth increase was due to large monetary transfers from his wife’s family.[16] The McCauls live in West Lake Hills, Texas, a wealthy suburb of Austin, Texas, with their children, daughters Caroline, Jewell, Avery, and Lauren, and a son, Michael.[” Wikipedia

        Cruz’s vote should please Mr. Mays.

        • John Johnson

          Thank you.

  • Lissa Hattersley
    • WestTexan70

      I’m all for this. They’ll get a few bucks from me.

  • John Moody

    Easy solution: Let’s make our browsing data worthless by creating an app or script that browses thousands of random websites per day.

    • Sam Jacinto

      Someone did that already

      • brooks lickson

        someone did that but we are still on tor. Stop using it, use PUREVPN AND HTTPS

  • SpiritofPearl
  • John Johnson

    While our congressmen seem to go about passing legislation that takes good care of those contributing greatly to their campaigns, no one seems to want to get fully onboard with finding out, once and for all, what happened between the Russians and people on both Trump and Obama advisory staffs. It is also important to find out who revealed names picked up in random intelligence and passed them on. Surely we all agree on this. Until this is put to bed, in a bi-partisan manner, it will be an anchor slowing down anything else we expect to accomplish.

  • mbraganca


  • enp1955

    I loved Flake’s answer to privacy concerns. He said that if you didn’t like it, you could easily opt out by notifying your IPS or cell phone provider. Yeah, right.

    • brooks lickson

      The new FCC chairperson – a Republican, Ajit Pai, said in a statement, “I want the American people to know that the FCC will work with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to ensure that consumers’ online privacy is protected through a consistent and comprehensive framework.”

      In response to the newly passed bill, Anna Eshoo, California Representative, said that the House doesn’t have the slightest idea about how internet privacy is perceived differently by different industries.

      She said in a statement, “They can use your information and sell it to the highest bidder.”

      Source: https://www.purevpn.com/blog/broadband-privacy/

  • John

    So Cornyn & Cruz thinking protecting individuals’ privacy from ISPs is “federal overreach”? Really?!?!?! And by letting ISPs freely harvest our personal, private browsing history will create jobs? What kind of jobs? Hacker jobs! Cruz & Cronyn are increasing every web-using American’s susceptibility to hacking. These two are MONSTERS. They sold us down the river to make their contributor ISP companies happy. VOTE THEM BOTH OUT!

  • jeninseguin

    Scum of the earth

  • Kansas-Lil

    How ironic that another post above this one talks about the “suicide mission” that Democrat Beto O’Rourke may be on in trying to unseat Cruz. Ted’s desire to lick the boots of corporations who stand to make a mint off of this outrage is just what his opponent could use against him. The hacking danger is bad enough, but to have my privacy at risk even more than it is goes against what I thought good conservatives stood for. People around the country during the presidential campaign saw up-close and personal what a sleazebucket Cruz is. He even alienated many in his base. I could not explain to people when I was asked how in the world Texans ever voted him in. This bill may contribute to his downfall.

  • dormand

    If you are among the many who were blind-sided by this sell-the-browser-history bill just approved by both houses of Congress, you are entirely correct to be enraged at the potential loss of your privacy.

    One party who is acting has a crowdfunding project to give those members of Congress who enabled this invasion into your privacy:


    Mr. Cruz faces the voters in the midterm elections next year. I suggest that it is rare for the quality of representation to have dropped so dramatically as it did when Mr. Cruz replaced the
    statesmanlike Kay Bailey Hutchison, who acted on the nation’s behalf and was superlative at
    working across the aisle in bipartisan projects. KBH had an outstanding staff who kept us informed and was readily accessible when there was a need for action by her office.

    Mr. Cruz, on the other hand, entered this office as a stepping stone for higher office. You had a very good response from his office on all occasions. You did, that is, if you were one of the eight figure contributing wing nuts who primed the pump for Mr. Cruz superPACS.

    Texas is highly dependent upon exports in its more profitable companies that have higher wages, according to the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank. As banks are reluctant to issue letters of credit backing foreign companies as it is difficult to obtain reliable credit information on them, many Texas exporters are highly reliant upon the Export-Import Bank of the US to finance exports.

    General Electric had Dallas at the top of its short lists when it was planning its move out of
    Connecticut. GE is a very heavy user of the EX-IM Bank to finance its exports.

    Texas Senator Ted Cruz lead an effort to shut down the EX-IM Bank of the US. This so enraged GE that it dropped Dallas from its short list of potential headquarters relocation sites.

    You can thank Senator Cruz for the loss of GE, which would have added a massive amount of growth to Texas over the rest of the century.

    As you vote in the primary and general election next year for the US Senator position, it may be useful for you to know that massive donations were made to Ted Cruz by the Wilkes Brothers of Cisco and by Robert Mercer of Long Island. The latter is the person who embedded Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, and Steve Miller into the Trump campaign and then into the Trump White House.

    I encourage you to do some Google searches on each of these individuals if you would like to have the shock of your life.

    Please consider voting against Ted Cruz in next years primary and possibly in the general election. His critical thinking ability is shocking and his interest is only in moving up, not in serving those Texans who put him in office.

  • Robert Gill

    We have the best government, that money can buy.