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Cyber expert explains internet privacy concerns after House pulls plug on FCC regulations

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A vote Tuesday in Washington dismantled online privacy regulations previously set in place by the FCC.

The regulations would have prevented internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from selling your personal information on marketplaces and to start-up companies.

FOX59 spoke to IU Bloomington Cyber Security Program Chair Scott Shackelford about what it now means for you when you're browsing online.

Shackelford said those companies can access information like your browsing habits, but also dates important to you, like your birthday. Those details can be sold where companies would use that data to develop advertising and marketing trends.

“It can be a couple bucks. It can be a bit more, but when all of a sudden you have millions of consumers, that can be a cash cow for a lot of companies," Shackelford said.

The more personal information that's out there, Shackelford says, the easier it is for you to become a victim of identity theft.

"The first thing you can do is contact your internet service provider. You can actually go to the privacy dashboard of Comcast, of Time Warner, of AT&T U-Verse and opt-out as much as you can, as much as they let you of all the ways they can sell your data,” said Shackelford. “Everything you can do to make it harder for companies to sell your data and for others, criminals, whatever it might be to track what you’re doing, it’s going to pay off at the end of the day."

Shackelford shared the following "Cyber Hygiene" tips:

Use a secure browser: Shackelford recommends Google Chrome.

Update your browser: Update both your browser and computer operating systems regularly.

Vary passwords: Vary your password between your social media and banking accounts. You can use a program called Last Pass which is an encrypted service to make sure you have unique passwords for all systems.

Use a virtual private network: It's also called a VPN. Shackelford said it's a form of secure communication that can be helpful when browsing the web, especially when using public Wi-Fi.