Politics, Policy & Your Browsing History
As we reported last week, the House voted to overturn an act intended to protect your consumer privacy by preventing your Internet provider from selling & sharing your browsing history with advertisers without your permission. The decision to do away with your privacy seems to be a partisan issue. The Online Privacy act was enacted during (though it never actually went into effect) the Obama era, who were a self-described pro-privacy administration. The Trump administration has been said to aim to be run more like a business.
What It Means and Why It Matters
Yes, Google and Facebook already collect your data to learn your preferences and sell them to third-party advertisers so they can market to you more accurately. Google and social media personal data collection is less detrimental though. For one, they’re free services that provide you entertainment in exchange for your personal data, creating ad-based revenue. In contrast, YOU pay your cable or fiber optic company big bucks, with limit choice in competitors – and now they will be able to make even more money off of you.
In addition, Internet Service Providers now can collect your data across all of your devices (even your SmartTVs and other IoT devices) and therefore identify you more clearly than Facebook or Google.
More than Just Where You Go Online
Your collected personal details will be so identifying, that it makes that data REALLY attractive to hackers…and maybe even intelligence agencies, in the near future. It’s not just your browsing history, either – It’s your location data /financial/ sometimes even your Social Security info. While waiting for this bill to be signed into law, what can you do about it? The answer is in educating yourself and being mindful and aware.
- Find out what your ISP is currently collecting on you and see if there’s an opt-out option.
- Strongly consider switching providers to one that has an opt-out program (it may cost extra)
- Consider using a VPN (virtual privacy network) by default to cloak your browsing. They’re free or you can use a subscription service to make the process more user-friendly. This scrambles your identify and can make your location appear wherever you desire
- Reset ad identifiers/Do Not Track whenever you can. Google and iPhone both allow you to reset ad IDs.
- Use HTTPS sites instead of HTTP to encrypt your browsing.
Stay safe out there in our connected world!