Just last month, Congress voted in favor of S.J. Resolution 34 that repeals a long standing FCC ruling related to Internet Service Providers. The resolution rolls back broadband privacy protections concerning your web activity and opens the door for companies to use your data for their own profitable endeavors. In technical terms, your ISP will be inspecting all the web packets associated with your account.
In plain English, what they will be doing is snooping on you, learning everything about you, such as:
• Your shopping activities
• Your demographic profile such as sexual orientation, age, etc.
• Your health status
• Your financial and banking patterns
• Your app usage and file sharing activities
On April 3, 2017, this resolution was signed into law. That date marks a drastic infringement on your privacy, as your personal data can now be sold to the highest bidder. Yes, on April 3, 2017, your ISP potentially became an advertising powerhouse.
The Difference Between Your ISP and a Search Engine
One can argue that prominent search engines such as Google already monitor and track your every move concerning your web searches, site visits, streaming videos, clicked ads, and physical location. They can then use this data to better tailor advertising campaigns and push ads for products and services you may be interested in. Some will argue that Facebook does the same thing with the newsfeed of their users. All of this is true. The difference, however, is that you have a real choice when it comes to choosing a search engine. Some search engines, such as DuckDuckGo, adhere to your privacy and do not track your web searches. In addition, search engines and Facebook are free sites. You are knowingly giving up your privacy when you use these web applications. Most of their users understand that this is simply the basis of their business model. Browsing Facebook is an optional activity in our lives, but accessing the Internet is not. In today’s world where nearly all of the information we depend on is digitized, access to the Internet is no longer an option, like it was twenty years ago. Your child uses it for homework, your spouse uses it to pay family bills, and you use it to book your next family vacation.
Despite the necessity of the Internet, the fact is that there is little choice in Internet Providers today. While there are hundreds of search engines available on the Internet, most people only have a choice between the local phone and cable companies in their area. For the past two decades, we didn’t need to know much about these companies other than their bandwidth offerings and level of dependability. But now that has changed. Can you truly be comfortable with the fact that large, faceless corporate conglomerates can distinguish which device belongs to your child and what they are doing? Now consider the fact that the average person pays $47 a month to these same ISPs for service. In other words, we are paying to have our ISP spy on us, capture our data, and then sell it.
Protecting Your Privacy with a VPN
VPN stands for virtual private network, which is what a VPN does for you. It encrypts all of your web traffic, creating a virtual tunnel that encases, protects, and shields your personal information and data. It is a technology going back to 1996, when Microsoft created the first encrypted Internet connection. A VPN has been a staple of the corporate world for sales people and business executives on the road, who rely on it to protect their company data when working from unsecure and untrusted networks at hotels and cafes. A secure VPN is a must for people in many countries throughout the world who utilize it to surf the web freely and worry free. This is because in many countries, ISPs serve as a collector of information for obtrusive governments.
Some may argue that HTTPS sites offer encrypted protection from ISPs, but that is only partially correct. When using an HTTPS site, your ISP still knows all of the secure domains you visit, each one representing a piece of the puzzle in which big data analyzers can use to create a mosaic of your digital life. Perhaps you visit the PayPal site a lot. Are you comfortable knowing that this fact is now documented? What if the IRS were to seize your domain history from the IRS? With a VPN, your ISP is completely hidden, having no record of your activities whatsoever.
You Have Choice – the Best VPN Protection
Unlike your choice of ISPs, you have a plethora of choices when shopping for a top VPN provider. Many VPN companies have a global presence with connection servers in multiple countries across the world. This is a great benefit for international travelers who can not only enjoy secure web connections wherever they are in the world, but allows them to access US-based sites, and check their online financial accounts or watch movies on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Globally dispersed VPN companies, such as NordVPN, have their servers hosted in countries with no mandatory data retention laws, ensuring that your web traffic can never be summoned by a lawyer or the government. In addition, most VPN service providers encrypt your DNS traffic as well, ensuring that your ISP or any external party cannot determine the websites you’ve visited.
The Best VPN at the Best Price
There are so many top VPN service providers out there such as ExpressVPN, Pure VPN, and Hotspot Shield, just to name a few. Some VPN companies offer a free limited service, and most offer their service for less than $10 a month with a paid annual subscription. Of course, price isn’t everything. When shopping for a secure VPN service, you need you to consider such things as:
• Encryption and security
• Logging Policies
• Ease of use
• Customer support
Because there is true choice in the market place for a secure VPN, you are sure to find the best VPN service that is right for your needs. Protecting your identity and web traffic information has always been important, but with the recent reversal of your Internet privacy rights, it is quickly becoming more than just peace of mind. It has now become a necessity.