President Trump is about to legalize Big Brother’s invasion of your privacy, but there are ways you can fight back.
Now that the Republican majority in Congress has voted to undo Obama-era FCC privacy regulations supported by most Democrats and allow the sale of your private computer browsing history and personal information to the highest bidders, Popular Mechanics wants to share seven ways for you to stop – or at least hinder – the snatching of your private information, which will be legal after President Trump signs the new bill into law.
The Obama/FCC regulations would have required your Internet provider – Comcast, Charter or one of the others – to actively seek your permission before selling your personal location, buying habits, interests and data companies who want to exploit you as a consumer or use the information for other questionable purposes.
The kinds of information the Obama/FCC rules would have kept your data private – including obvious things like your location and online purchases – but that can also include your health records, children, family relations, social security number, financial information, app usage and the content of whatever you communicate.
In the brave new world of Trump crony capitalism, you will have to be much more pro-active and actually spend time and maybe even some money if you want to protect yourself and your data. If that doesn’t scare you away, here are suggestions on how to at least make an attempt to protect your privacy.
1. Opt out with your ISP. They won’t call or contact you for permission, but you can go to them and demand privacy. Go to their website with your detailed info, or call them, and then check, click or choose anything that can help maintain your privacy. Remember that your ISP may also be a phone company, so there could be some additional restrictions on them that can be used to your benefit.
2. Switch to a smaller ISP, leaving behind the giant corporations who will almost certainly sell you out. They will claim to be hiding your identity, but your information flow will be specific enough that someone who really wants to pinpoint you as the source, can do so.
“Some smaller ISPs,” writes Popular Mechanics, “which survive on small and satisfied customer bases as opposed to a large and captive audience, are more incentivized to protect your privacy with gusto. In fact, a whole host of small ISPs wrote a letter to Congress opposing this move. If you’re lucky enough to have the option of switching to one, now might be a good time.
3. Hide your data with an app. Get or buy an app with end-to-end encryption. That would mean the ISP will know there is data being moved, but will not be able to read it easily.
“Secure chat apps like Signal will be crucial to keep your chats private not only from the government and hackers, but from your ISP,” writes Popular Mechanics. “Just make sure these services have security measures that are open-source and trusted by experts who can help keep them honest. You can also encrypt data manually, using a standard like PGP before you send it off into the web, but it can be an arduous process, because you have to ensure that the recipient has the means to decode that info and read it.”
4. Pay for a virtual private network. This will allow you to move data across an ISP without that ISP being able to read it. Remember, however, the VPN will be able to access your data so choose carefully and make sure that service is trustworthy.
5. HTTPS can help. If you browse a website using HTTPS, the ISP can only detect what website you are on, but not what pages you visit, reports Vogue.com.
“Installing the extension HTTPS Everywhere by Electronic Frontier Foundation makes sure that when you connect to websites that have HTTPS, it’s used by default,” reports Vogue.com. “It works on multiple desktop browsers but for phones only on the Firefox browser on Android.”
6. Get rid of browsers provided by potential Big Brothers. That includes Googe, Apple and Microsoft. Instead, use a browser that offers plug-ins that increase your level of control over your privacy, such as Firefox.
7. Go international. There are some ISP providers outside the U.S. that have a policy of never logging your web activity. One of those is PureVPN, reports Geektime.com. Others include Ivacy VPN in Singapore. Remember these are not free, but they may keep you free from the eye of Big Brother.
The vast majority of people will just shrug and live with whatever the ISP chooses to do with their data without ever knowing their life story is being monetized, or how their life story, history, and personal details are being used.
Again, the ISP will tell you they will not give out your name, just your data and browsing history – but do you really trust them?
Thanks to Big Brother Donald, that is a question all of us will now have to contemplate.