The President signed a bill yesterday evening that ultimately will allow your internet providers, both at home and wireless, to watch, collect, and ultimately sell your internet activity history.
Last year, the FCC passed a set of rules that would govern how internet service providers handle your privacy. Simply put, the rules required your internet service provider to get your permission in order to collect and then sell your information to advertisers. Those rules were scheduled to go into effect by the end of 2017. With the signing of S.J.Res 34, they never will.
Now things like what websites you visit, your geolocations, financial and medical information are going to be up for grabs.
Isn’t Internet Privacy an Oxymoron?
While many services and companies collect information about you for advertising purposes (ahem Google) all of those services do so by exchanging something with you. Google, as an example, provide services at no charge in exchange for your information. Whether you agree with their motives or privacy policies or not, the information gathered by a company like Google is being used to provide day to day services for you.. Just the other day Google alerted me that it was time to get in the car and drive to the airport to account for traffic and security lines if I wanted to make my flight. It did this without me telling it to. It did this without me setting an appointment in my calendar. It just knew because it knew I received an email confirmation back months ago for my flight, it knew where I was presently located, it knew what the traffic was like between myself and the airport, it knew that the flight was on time. One thing I did do to help Google provide this service was agree to use their service. I could choose to not use Google and not give them my information at any time.
While we all might be giving up our privacy in one way or another in the age of the smart phone and instant information via social media, we are certainly choosing to do so at some kind of benefit to ourselves. The bill the President signed yesterday takes away the consumer’s’ right to make that choice and hands over the benefit to the internet providers and advertisers, not you. With all this extra revenue by selling your information, you can be assured what you pay your internet and wireless providers will not go down.
How to Stay Private and Secure
Don’t use the internet.
Just kidding… that’s not exactly possible these days. Changing internet providers to a company that is more privacy oriented is also not possible because most of us don’t have a choice in who provides our internet service.
Without getting all super technical, the best answer is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN ensures that all the data you transmit is encrypted so that prying eyes, like your internet provider, can’t see it. The only thing your service provider would see is encrypted traffic, without any idea what kind of traffic it is or where it is going.
Setting up a VPN to keep you protected is not trivial either. There are lots of VPN providers out there. Which one is safe? Which one actually respects your privacy? Which one won’t slow your internet to a crawl? How do you make sure that ALL of your traffic is protected?
We’re Here to Help
If you care about your privacy and ensuring your data remains secure, give us a call. We can answer all of your questions and provide services that will give you protection and privacy you need.