Is the $200K Crowdfunding Campaign to Get Lawmakers' Browsing Histories a Scam?

The votes caused outrage among internet communities such as Reddit, and now some activists have announced plans to fight Republicans - by using the law Congress just passed.

McElhaney claims that the legislators were lobbied by telecoms companies and ISPs to pass the law so that they could make money selling the data.

More than 3,000 people donated to a GoFundMe page by actor Misha Collins, who stars in the "Supernatural" television show. Starting with a modest goal of just $10,000, the campaign had already raised nearly $150,000. So while it would be possible to buy the browsing history of members of Congress as a marketer, that data, however specific, wouldn't specifically identify which individuals browsed what, and it would be grouped in with data from others with similar browsing habits, not necessarily other members of Congress (since it's unlikely they all visit all the same places online).

He proposes setting up a searchable database of browser history for every member of Congress who voted yes; as a bonus, he asks contributors to vote on "whose history gets bought first".

Let's turn the tables.

And McElhaney isn't the only one looking to buy that information to retaliate against Congress. Max Temkin, co-creator of the popular card game Cards Against Humanity, is planning to do the same thing, though he advises against donating to Go Fund Me accounts making the same promises.

Data Does Good will then donate $15 on your behalf to a non-profit of your choice that is fighting for privacy rights, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation or the ACLU.

The order was sent to Trump, who is expected to sign it soon. "As a reminder, this bill hasn't been signed yet and there is no data to buy".

In the days since those initial tweets at least some of that reality seems to have dawned on those promoting the "buy their history" campaign. It would be extremely hard, if not impossible.

The privacy rules passed a year ago by the Federal Communications Commission required that internet service providers get consumers to opt-in before the providers sell online records for advertising and marketing, but had not yet gone into effect.

Two fundraising campaigns have so far raised more than $215,000 to purchase and reveal lawmakers' browsing histories, according to a report by The Washington Post.

Many Internet service providers (ISPs) have privacy policies that may cover this type of information. Once he has them, he says he plans to publish them online so anyone can search through them. Even if the FCC declined to actively police the privacy beat, the self-described goal of both the current FCC and FTC chairs is to return privacy authority back to the FTC. Therefore purchasing the data of politicians would be impossible. All that generally matters to these companies are a few demographics.

GoFundMe, the website hosting them, previously told The Post in a statement, "in order to protect donors, if a campaign is flagged as fraudulent, the funds can not be withdrawn until the issue is resolved".

  • Carolyn Briggs