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If Congress wants to put your browser history up for sale, why not buy theirs first?

The 'Supernatural' actor launches a fundraising effort in the name of online privacy.

If Congress wants to put your browser history up for sale, why not buy theirs first?

Misha Collins needs to raise half a billion dollars.

Or, at least, that's what the "Supernatural" actor (and former White House intern) figures he'll need in order to purchase the internet browsing data of every member of Congress who voted for a bill that — get this — makes selling people's internet browsing data completely legal without having to get anyone's permission. Wild, isn't it?

And while being a popular actor with steady work in TV and film probably helps pay the bills, $500 million is likely juuust a bit out of Collins' price range. So he did what many people in a financial crunch do: He started a GoFundMe campaign.


Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images.

Collins' logic is pretty sound: If Congress wants to turn our privacy into something that can be bought, we the people can make a point by banding together to buy their privacy.

The bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday (and is expected to be signed by President Trump), allows internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast, Verizon, or Time Warner, to collect and sell customers' data to anyone without their permission. That means that everything ranging from your location to your browsing history (which might include your medical, personal, and financial history) can be packaged up and sold off — and there's nothing you can do about it.

The bill overturns a Federal Communications Commission rule put in place at the end of 2016 designed to stop ISPs from doing just that. The rule, which hadn't gone into effect, was a big win for people who, you know, don't like having their personal info sold to advertisers without their permission. Rolling it back is a big win for ... well, not those people.

Photo by Stefan Zaklin/Getty Images; photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SiriusXM.

"Game on, Congress," Collins taunts on his GoFundMe page.

In the event that Collins is able to raise enough money to purchase Congress' data, he would use it for (mostly) good, adding that he would never share information that would affect someone's safety and security.

But other than that? Well, that's a different story. "All other details are fair game," Collins wrote.

In the rather likely event the campaign doesn't hit the $500 million goal, Collins is going to donate whatever money the page brings in to the American Civil Liberties Union to help fund the fight for the rights of all Americans — including the right to internet privacy.

Of course, there are other ways you can get involved in the fight, such as signing onto the ACLU's petition or donating to them directly. Other organizations worth consideration include the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy & Technology.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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