It’s time to take your online privacy into your own hands, since you don’t have the law on your side now.
New Internet Privacy Rule
On March 14, 2017, congress voted to repeal the pending law passed under domestic administration last year that will prevent ISP (Internet Service Providers like AT&T, Comcast, Sprint and Verizon) from selling private browsing history of Internet users to third-party companies. This means that, when the bill take effect this December, your ISP can benefit by selling your personal data to ads companies without your permission.
How will it affect you?
It is not saying that ISPs now can sell your personal data like your names, ages and addresses, etc. – which is illegal, but they can handle your browsing data without informing you explicitly. The thing is that, ISPs’ potential use of your browsing data could undermine cybersecurity, because the data must be decrypted and re-encrypted during your surfing and that “leads to weaker security, which will make people more vulnerable to hacking incidents,” according to Zouhair Belkoura, founder and CEO of content privacy company Keepsafe.
You may say that companies like Google and Facebook make money off your behavior as well, however, you use their services free and you are not forced to use them. When you are dissatisfied with them, you can always switches to other platforms, using Bing or DuckDuckGo for your web searches or Dropbox instead of Google Drive. While you don’t really have this choice when it comes to your ISP, and most Americans have limited home ISP alternatives. Some areas even have only one provider. To make it worse, ISPs see more of what you do online, since they have to carry all of your traffic. This means preventing ISP tracking online is a lot harder than preventing other third-party tracking by installing privacy add-ons or switching to private mode.
Take your online privacy into your own hands
Several technical workarounds—especially virtual private networks, or VPNs—will return some control to you, the average internet users.
In effect, VPNs route all your traffic through their service. Instead of your internet provider having a list of websites you’ve visited, you’ll only ever appear to connect to one particular server.
While VPNs are an important privacy tool, they have limitations. The most obvious: You need to trust your VPN provider not to track you and sell your data itself. Well-known services like NordVPN, IPVanish, and PureVPN are preferable choices you can try. We have concluded several factors for you to tell whether your VPN provider is reliable.
The most basic thing you can do if and when your service provider tries to collect and sell your data? Switch to another provider that won’t do the same. You might have a better chance in the wireless market, where four major carriers are competing for your business. AT&T, Comcast and Verizon have each said they won’t sell browsing data to third parties.
Most major ISPs and their trade associations signed a pledge to let you opt out of having your data used for third-party marketing. So visit your provider’s privacy-policy page, as painful as digesting that legalese might be, and opt out of marketing options you don’t like. But providers face so little competition in the home broadband market that you might be stuck.
Encrypted sites are the ones have an “https” prefix to an address or a lock icon in the address bar. They connect between themselves and your browser and stop third parties, including ISPs, from gathering data on your activities. Your ISP will only see the domain name you visit… which, if it belongs to a political group, can still be revealing.
To wrap it up, VPNs are a good way to protect your data, especially on public Wi-Fi networks. And it’s important to pay attention to the fine print of your internet contract to find out how your data might be used, regardless of what laws are in place.
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