Action Alerts · Online Privacy, Net Neutrality · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Save These Tools

Read The Normal Person’s Guide to Internet Security

This OTYCD entry originally posted in May 2017.

Read The Normal Person’s Guide to Internet Security, a straightforward guide to some basic things you can do to safeguard yourself online. 

You will remember we squawked as loudly and as quickly as we could about HR Res. 86, which promised to let Internet Service Providers (ISPs) collect information on where you go online and sell it to marketers and other third parties. (You won’t be surprised to learn that it and its Senate counterpart bill were entirely and solely sponsored by Republicans.)

Unfortunately that bill passed Congress and Trump signed it into law. Many state legislators are at work on state-level solutions to protect you, but in the meantime, have a look at The Normal Person’s Guide to Internet Security and see what else you can do to defend yourself.

The guide is essentially Online Privacy 101 and does not pretend to be otherwise. If you’ve already implemented two-step authentication on all your devices and favorite web sites, and have already installed ad blockers, etc. etc., this is probably too elemental for you. But for the rest of us, it’s at least a good refresher-cum-checklist, if not a decent introduction to concepts we should all master.

Read The Normal Person’s Guide to Internet Security (Warning–the URL contains a NSFW word, so you may want to wait till you get home to look at it):


Follow its author, Matt Kiser, on Twitter:


Call Your State Legislators · Online Privacy, Net Neutrality

Urge Your State Legislators to Protect Your Privacy on the Internet

This OTYCD entry originally posted in May 2017.


Call and email your state legislators and ask them to create laws that will protect your privacy on the Internet.


Earlier, we urged you to call your house reps and ask them to vote against H.R. Res 86, which, if passed, would gut consumer privacy protections online. (We’re sure you won’t be surprised to know the bill was entirely sponsored by Republicans.) Well, it passed, and Trump signed it.


Now we must turn to our state legislators to protect us from those who would harvest our data and sell it.


Some state legislatures are already on the case. Illinois is working on a European-style “right to know” law that would tell customers what information search engines and social media platforms are gathering on them, and who they’re selling it to. Minnesota is mulling a law that would stop Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from selling consumer information without written permission. Massachusetts state senators just introduced a bill similar to Minnesota’s.


The first step in asking your state legislators to pass laws protecting your online privacy is knowing who they are.


Find your state senator and house rep here, as well as your state attorney general:



Then call or email them and ask them to pass laws that protect consumer privacy online, assuming they aren’t already doing that. If they are, tell them that you support their efforts, and ask what you can do to help make them law.



Sample script: “Hello, I am <Firstname Lastname from town, zip code>. I am contacting you to ask you to write, support, and pass laws that will protect <state name> consumers’ online privacy. As you know, Trump recently signed a law that allows Internet Service Providers to harvest information about their users’ online movements and sell it to third parties. I would like you and your colleagues to consider bills like those being discussed in Minnesota and Massachusetts, which would not let ISPs sell someone’s data without their written permission. Illinois is also considering a bill that would force search engines and social media platforms to tell consumers what data they’re gathering, and who they’re selling it to. Laws like these would do much to protect our privacy online. Thank you.”



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Read about the states’ reaction to the passage of HR Res 86:



Read about the efforts in the Illinois and Minnesota state legislatures to protect their residents’ online privacy:

Now that the US federal government doesn’t care about internet privacy, states are stepping in



Call Your House Rep · Online Privacy, Net Neutrality

SCREAM at Your House Rep to Vote Against H.J. Res 86, Which Would Make Online Privacy a Joke

Call your house rep and demand that they vote against H.J. Res 86, which would make a mockery of online privacy.

You need to do this TODAY because the bill has already passed the Senate and the House will vote on it TODAY (March 28). 

Why this bill sucks, per the good guys at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and others: If it passes, it would repeal Obama-era rules and would allow your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to sell the data it collects from your search history and sell it to advertisers.

This would happen even if you take measures to protect your own privacy online. If the bill passes, the only real way to shield yourself from those who would exploit you and market you would be to use an anonymity network such as Tor.

Of course the grossness doesn’t stop there. The bill would also let ISPs force ads into your online traffic that are based on where it sees you go online.

It would also let your ISP redirect your online searches to companies that pay them to send you to them, even if they’re not the best result for your needs.

It would let them pre-install software on your phone that logs your movements online and sends the findings to your ISP.

It would let ISPs force undetectable cookies that can’t be deleted–so-called ‘supercookies’–into your traffic. Supercookies are so intrusive that they can override use of an Incognito window or a do-not-track feature.

It will surprise you not one whit that all the sponsors of the Senate version of the bill and all the sponsors of the House version of the bill are–wait for it–Republicans! Not one Democrat among them.

IMPORTANT. Before you call, check the link below. Is your Republican house rep one of the co-sponsors of this bill? Then it’s extra-important that you call to voice your opposition.


Sample script: “Hello, I’m (Firstname Lastname, from town, state.) I am calling to ask House Rep (Lastname) to vote against H.J. Res 86, which would render online privacy moot. Instead of treating your online search history like sensitive, private information, the bill, if passed, would allow internet service providers to snoop on your movements and sell the information to marketers and advertisers and who knows who else. The bill would also nullify tools that people use now to shield themselves, such as incognito windows and do-not-track measures. Please vote against this outrageously intrusive bill.”


Bonus points: Is your Republican senator one of those who sponsored the Senate version of this terrible bill? Check the link below and if need be, call and complain. And bookmark the link for reference when they’re up for re-election.


Read a GovTrack piece on the legislation (it names two sponsors but not every one of them).


See GovTrack’s summary of the House version of the bill:


Read an piece on the legislation:


Read the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)’s assessment of the bill:


Read a Reddit AMA on the topic: