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FCC Adopts an Order to Stop Your Internet Provider From Selling Your Personal Info

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As more of our work, purchases, and interactions take place online, the state of digital privacy becomes a growing concern. Web users worried about how their personal data is being used will soon be able to rest a little easier, thanks to new rules passed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on October 27. As The Washington Post reports, the FCC imposed unprecedented regulations on internet providers this Thursday in a three-to-two vote.

The new rules forbid providers from using or sharing personal user data with third parties like advertisers unless explicit consent is given. This covers location data, search histories, and information mined from emails. If users agree to being tracked online, providers will be required to tell them what information is being collected and for what purpose. Users can expect to see updated privacy policies from websites, as well as possible incentives like discounts to persuade users to hand over the rights to their data.

The decision is troubling news for big companies like Verizon and AT&T, who might push back against regulations with legal action. But in a time when more and more web giants are relaxing their privacy standards, many are hailing the move as a victory for web users. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the commissioner who led the initiative, told The Washington Post, “It’s the consumers’ information. How it is used should be the consumers’ choice, not the choice of some corporate algorithm.”

The new regulations will only affect internet service providers (ISPs): Individual companies like Facebook and Google, which have both come under fire for their handling of user data, are free to proceed as usual. This discrepancy has been one of the major criticisms from the order's opponents, but Wheeler hasn’t expressed interest in tackling that part of the web anytime soon.

[h/t The Washington Post]

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to the new rules as a "law." The story has been updated to correct this error.

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This Just In
For $61, You Can Become a Co-Owner of This 13th-Century French Castle
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images

A cultural heritage restoration site recently invited people to buy a French castle for as little as $61. The only catch? You'll be co-owning it with thousands of other donors. Now thousands of shareholders are responsible for the fate of the Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers in western France, and there's still room for more people to participate.

According to Mashable, the dilapidated structure has a rich history. Since its construction in the 13th century, the castle has been invaded by foreign forces, looted, renovated, and devastated by a fire. Friends of Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers, a small foundation formed in 2016 in an effort to conserve the overgrown property, want to see the castle restored to its former glory.

Thanks to a crowdfunding collaboration with the cultural heritage restoration platform Dartagnans, the group is closer than ever to realizing its mission. More than 9000 web users have contributed €51 ($61) or more to the campaign to “adopt” Mothe-Chandeniers. Now that the original €500,000 goal has been fulfilled, the property’s new owners are responsible for deciding what to do with their purchase.

“We intend to create a dedicated platform that will allow each owner to monitor the progress of works, events, project proposals and build a real collaborative and participatory project,” the campaign page reads. “To make an abandoned ruin a collective work is the best way to protect it over time.”

Even though the initial goal has been met, Dartagnans will continue accepting funds for the project through December 25. Money collected between now and then will be used to pay for various fees related to the purchase of the site, and new donors will be added to the growing list of owners.

The shareholders will be among the first to see the cleared-out site during an initial visit next spring. The rest of the public will have to wait until it’s fully restored to see the final product.

[h/t Mashable]

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holidays
The Plugin That Keeps the Internet From Spoiling Santa Claus
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During simpler times, the biggest threat to a child's belief in Santa was usually older siblings or big-mouthed classmates. Today, kids have access to an entire world wide web, full of potentially Santa-spoiling content. Luckily, there's a plugin that helps parents maintain their kids’ innocence through the holidays.

Created by the virtual private network provider Hide My Ass (HMA), the free software analyzes web activity for any information that might threaten to “bring a child’s belief in Santa crashing down.” In place of the problematic content, the plugin brings up an image of the jolly man himself. Typing the phrase “Santa is not real” into Google, for example, will instead take you to a web page showing nothing but a soft-focused St. Nick pointing into the camera and staring at you with judgmental eyes. The plugin is also designed to work for social media communications, internet ads, and articles like this one.


Hide My Ass

According to a survey of 2036 parents by HMA, one in eight children in the U.S. have their belief in Santa ruined online. Whether it's because of the internet or other related factors, the age that children stop believing in Santa is lower than ever.

The average age that current parents lost their faith in Santa Claus was 8.7 years old, and for today’s kids it’s 7.25 years. Concerned parents can download the plugin for Chrome here, though it may not be enough to hide every type of Santa spoiler: Of the parents who blamed the internet, 26 percent of them reported kids snooping over their shoulder as they shopped for gifts online.

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