Future Tense newsletter: Does your ISP know too much about you?

Future Tense Newsletter: Does Your Internet Service Provider Know Too Much About You?

Future Tense Newsletter: Does Your Internet Service Provider Know Too Much About You?

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Feb. 15 2017 2:58 PM

Future Tense Newsletter: Does Your Internet Service Provider Know Too Much About You?

Woman with Smartphone
Your ISP knows what you're smiling at.


Greetings, Future Tensers,

In just the first few weeks of the new administration we have seen significant changes to policy. But here’s one you might have missed: Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. and Terrell McSweeny of the Federal Trade Commission write in Future Tense that basic consumer-privacy rules enacted by the Federal Communications Commission just a few months ago are already under threat. They write, “Broadband providers potentially have access to every bit of data that flows from a consumer. That type of access demands a set of rules that matches the long held expectations of Americans—that we should have the freedom to control access to the most sensitive information about our daily lives.”


If this has you thinking about your own privacy, we do have some good news. As part of our Futurography project, February is “Cybersecurity Self-Defense” month at Future Tense. We’ve explained what threats to protect yourself against, discussed how protecting yourself online serves the greater good, and presented tutorials on how to set up Signal private messenger, how to use a password manager, and how to turn on two-factor authentication. We’ve got more tips coming in the next two weeks, too.

Here are some of the articles we read this week while imagining what GOP senior officials are discussing on an encrypted messaging app:

  • Wikipedia’s Daily Mail ban: Will Oremus writes how Wikipedia editors’ decision to “generally prohibit” the use of the Daily Mail as a source in their encyclopedia articles could lead to greater awareness about unreliable news sources.
  • The Trump donors like best: Katy Waldman unpacks a memo from the Republican National Committee to see what portrayals of Trump on his campaign website were most conducive to inveigling users into making donations.
  • Asking visa applicants for passwords: Last week Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly told Congress that the Department of Homeland Security is considering the possibility of asking visa applicants for full access to their online accounts. Laura Moy explains the real problems this would create for free expression.
  • The Spawn of Frankenstein: Did you miss our event on the legacy of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein? Rachelle Hampton covered the highlights in her recap. You can also watch video of the event here.


  • You may not be high on Putin's to-hack list, but there are still good reasons to protect yourself online. And there is no better place to start than a Future Tense happy hour. Bring your devices and join us for drinks and demos on Feb. 16—yes, tomorrow—in Washington for a Cybersecurity Self-Defense Class in which experts will teach you how to use a virtual private network, cover your digital tracks, use secure communications platforms, and more. RSVP to attend in person or watch online here.
  • Join Arizona State University and Future Tense in Mexico City on Feb. 23 to consider how technology will continue to alter the balance of power between individuals and the state. RSVP to attend the event in person here.

Cyber-securing myself,
Emily Fritcke
For Future Tense

Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Emily Fritcke is a research associate for Future Tense.