Update: White House – President Donald Trump has signed and approved the new broadband privacy rules, revoking the privacy rules proposed during Obama-era. The move has left privacy advocates infuriated.
Do not let companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon Communications control your online browsing history. Take control of your digital existence.
Update: The deed is done. The House of Representatives slammed the previous broadband privacy regulations by 215-205 votes, just a week after the Senate passed the bill with a party-line vote.
To the dismay of every internet user and consumer group, the House of Representative has finally rescinded the FCC-introduced broadband privacy rules. The new internet privacy bill now officially authorizes broadband providers or other telecom companies to sell users’ online data (search history, app history, emails, etc.) without users’ permission.
The FCC regulations passed in 2016 by Democrat Tom Wheeler, then-Chairman, defended consumers’ privacy by prohibiting broadband providers from accessing users’ data without their consent.
The new FCC chairperson – a Republican, Ajit Pai, said in a statement, “I want the American people to know that the FCC will work with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to ensure that consumers’ online privacy is protected through a consistent and comprehensive framework.”
In response to the newly passed internet privacy bill, Anna Eshoo, California Representative, said that the House doesn’t have the slightest idea about how internet privacy is perceived differently by different industries.
She said in a statement, “They can use your information and sell it to the highest bidder.”
ISP Selling Your Internet History
While collecting the internet history of users will allow companies such as Comcast or AT&T to target consumers with specific ads, it raises the question: how will they actually collect your data?
- Tracking User Location: Thanks to smart devices with GPS, ISPs can access user location and keep a tab on it. Where you are going or where you will go next, nothing is hidden from your ISPs’ sight.
- Complete Packet Inspection: ISPs can not only go through certain pockets of data transmitted over the web, but also data which is used for user protection with complete packet inspection technology.
- Monitoring Online Activities: By monitoring the websites their users go to, ISPs can easily collect, store and sell that information to companies offering the highest bid. Basically, ISPs use your CPNI (Consumer Proprietary Network Information) to connect you to the Internet. CPNI allows the ISPs to know not just your name but also your exact location. For instance, your ISP can locate where you are connecting from – say LA – and whether are watching Netflix or browsing Facebook.
- Monitor the Apps You Use: It is not just your browser but also your app usage that will be monitored by your ISP.
- Inspect Online Financial Data: The sensitive information you use when purchasing goods online is also not safe anymore. Though the ISPs can’t see your sensitive data if a website uses SSL encryption, but they can track it if ecommerce websites are not protected with SSL.
Say Goodbye to Your Right to Privacy
Broadband privacy is the primary reason why millions of Americans trusted their service providers, but now, without any guidelines and regulations, these very companies have the greatest power to gather users’ data and sell that very data to advertisers and other interested parties
The Implications You May Experience Due to Anti-Broadband Privacy Bill
The terrible thing about our online data is that it is prone to be violated by individuals or organizations with ulterior motives, as witnessed in the past couple of years during the Snowden saga, and WikiLeaks revelations to name a few.
With the bill being finally passed, users now have every reason to fear the unsettling implications of the bill.
- With access to the search history of the users, anyone can now have a complete picture of the users’ intimate thoughts.
- By accessing users’ browsing history, broadband providers can now have deepest insight possible into the online behaviors of millions of unsuspecting users.
- The bill also gives exclusive access to users’ emails, allowing them to monitor users’ private discussions or conversations.
- With access to users’ website usage, the sensitive information a user enters while logging into their social accounts or making online transaction are not safe anymore.
- Users will now have to be more cautious when taking intimate pictures or selfies as their mobile app data is now in the hands of broadband providers and marketers.
- Network carriers, marketers or any third-party organizations can now have complete access to the users’ financial data, thanks to the anti-broadband privacy bill.
Today’s vote has now made it necessary than ever before for internet users to take matters into their own hands and start taking precautionary measures to protect their data.
Preventive Measures You Can Take Now
Fortunately, there are tools that can safeguard your online privacy, empowering you to stop unsolicited data miners in their tracks.
Need immediate countermeasures? Start with the following most reliable and effective tools.
- Start Using HTTPS Extensions/Add-ons: You need to install the HTTPS extension for your browser right now if you wish to protect your private data. The extension allows you to blind your ISPs or any snoopers from knowing what data you enter into a website or what conversations you make on it. Basically, the extension restricts websites from connecting to your browser without SSL encryption.
- Use VPN Extension for Browser: Since our browsing history is one of the main things that the broadband providers are after, it is wise to start implementing anonymity right from our browsers. For instance, if you are using a chrome browser, you can search for a VPN in chrome extensions store, say PureVPN chrome extension. Whatever you browse or do using that extension will be protected and made inaccessible to everyone but you.
- Encrypt Your Entire Network with a VPN: Want your entire online activities secured from every illegal access or surveillance? You may need to employ a reliable Virtual Private Network (VPN), such as PureVPN that encrypts your internet connection and devices on that network. You can learn more about how a VPN can help!
With encryption deployed right from the onset, ISPs, snoopers or any third-party organizations will be rendered paralyzed from accessing your data.
It was in late October 2016 when the then-US Federal officials approved new broadband privacy rules, stopping telecommunication companies like AT&T and Comsat from gathering and disclosing users’ online information, such as their browsing history, search history, etc. The laws were enacted to protect users’ online privacy, which can soon go extinct!
It’s March 24, 2017, and it’s effectively Apocalypse Now. Online privacy has suffered a historic setback with the Republican senators voting to knock down Internet privacy protections, giving Verizon, Comcast, AT&T and any other telecommunication or cellular service provider the complete right to track and share users’ search history, browsing history and their app activities, irrespective of whether a user has agreed to it or not.
It’s no secret that a lot of people loathe this ruling for all the right reasons.
“These were the strongest online privacy rules to date, and this vote is a huge step backwards in consumer protection writ large,” said Dallas Harris, a policy fellow for the consumer group Public Knowledge.
“The rules asked that when things were sensitive, an internet service provider asked permission first before collecting. That’s not a lot to ask.”
Companies were previously required to get explicit permissions from users before sharing their online data. Since that’s not happening anymore, privacy advocates such as Dan Gillmor and Zeynep Tufekci have laid huge emphasis on using privacy tools like a VPN.
This sellout of your privacy to Big Telecom makes it essential to use a VPN. https://t.co/QW8ULAbNob
— Dan Gillmor (@dangillmor) March 23, 2017
Basically, people, from now on, your *full* browsing history will be sold to whomever. Use a (non-free) VPN if you don't already do so. https://t.co/uld8SiXfVR
— Zeynep Tufekci (@zeynep) March 23, 2017
How Does a VPN Help?
A VPN is predominantly the best medium to protect a user’s online communications. The service creates a securely guarded tunnel that allows users to route their internet traffic firstly by sending it via encrypted private tunnels and secondly by routing it through a global network of VPN servers.
Premium service providers like PureVPN use top-notch AES 256-bit military-grade encryption to convert your data into cipher codes, which require a unique key to decrypt. This ensures the integrity of your data as any message sent gets deciphered by the intended recipient only.
Additionally, PureVPN has a NO log policy, which means no record of any online activity by any user. PureVPN offers robust features to afford users the ability to browse anonymously under a protected umbrella, providing unparalleled security even on public Wi-Fi networks.
How to Use PureVPN?
Using PureVPN is as simple as it gets. Follow the simple steps below to setup PureVPN on Android, iOS, Mac, Windows and even Wi-Fi routers!
- Signup for PureVPN.
- Download the VPN app for your device.
That’s it! Once the app is downloaded, you can login with your credentials (username and password) provided by PureVPN.
We are left with no choice than to use a VPN since mass surveillance has been legalized. Don’t let your private, sensitive information get in the hands of third-parties who will most probably use it against you. Reclaim your right to online privacy with PureVPN!