ISPs are usually regional monopolies or at best oligopolies. I cannot use the internet for any purpose without them. They also have access to far more personal information, by virtue of it all traveling over their wires, whereas google only sees a fraction.
Er, yes and no. The personal information your ISP has about you (your name, address, SSN, email address, and whatever contact/payment info you provide as part of being their customer) is already covered/protected by existing business law. The same FTC laws which prohibit your bank from handing out information about you, or your credit card company from doing the same, or the vendor you purchased something from, etc, etc, apply to your ISP. Again, ironically, moving the regulations from the FTC to the FCC for ISPs and only ISPs could actually result in fewer legal protections for customers, not more. Hence my suggestion that this wasn't ever really about privacy protections in the first place. That was just the smoke screen they used to cover for the move.
For completions sake, the stuff that *isn't* protected are exactly the sorts of online activities that google and facebook are more likely to collect about you. And yes, I suppose your ISP could also trap that data, but it's actually harder for them to do so, and they aren't nearly as poised, market wise, to actually use it. It's not an all or nothing situation here, but the point is that to single out ISPs for new/different rules, while claiming you're making a change to improve privacy for online users, is pretty darn misleading. Which was also the point of the editorial linked earlier.
As a computer engineer, the fact that you don't see this rather basic distinction is frankly shocking.
I do see this distinction. And as a computer engineer, I also understand what that distinction actually means in terms of actual privacy concerns and where the loopholes are in our existing laws, and how those loopholes may be exploited by each party involved, based on how the actual technology operates.
ISPs have also recently done another shitty thing which is traffic shaping, in which they look at content and choose how fast to serve it, essentially allowing them to pick winners and losers in the market, and I don't trust them not to use this purely for personal enrichment.
Uh huh. And this is the far more complicated actual issue at hand here, not the BS privacy excuse being trotted out in front of us.
And even within the correct context, there's a whole lot of fear mongering and false BS that gets tossed around. There are a boatload of very good, and arguably necessary reasons for ISPs (broadband providers as a whole) to engage in "traffic shaping". Hitting the entire thing with a giant mallet is an incredibly naive approach, and in most cases will cause far more harm to the functioning of the internet than good. Again though, I've made this argument several times in the past in several different net neutrality threads. I don't really feel like re-hashing them here. My point is that this move was always about imposing NN restrictions, under the guise of "privacy protection". So basically, they couldn't win the NN argument on its own merits, so they just changed the label and pretended it was being done for a different, even more BS, reason.