Net Neutrality- Is It Over For Privacy?
On Thursday 14th December 2017, the FCC voted along party lines to obliterate net neutrality rules that were implemented under the Obama administration. It has been a matter of heated debates, and we are yet to see what the future holds.
Different entities may have different views, but one thing is for sure; that your privacy is now in ICU! This a matter of great concern for us here at SafeWebPlus, and we’ll try to address it in this guide. So what is the situation, is your privacy entirely dead?
Breaking the Internet
Well, before we address that, let me take you back a while. In 2015, the FCC was Democrat-led, and after years of fiery debate, they set in place the Open Internet Order. This order forces ISPs to treat the internet as a public utility, i.e., something that everyone in America needs. Let’s say electricity or running water.
Now, after the repeal of net neutrality rules comes into effect, ISPs can now break down the internet. This will lead to them prioritizing their services, charging higher and stuff like that but that is not even the worst part. Zero privacy is what this move means. Let me tell you how.
Now, an ISP will have the power to determine the type of media you are accessing and how often you access it. Not only that, but they will also have the power to decide what you can access. They can block specific services for you, and they can throttle others. Point not home yet?
Let’s say you are a porn user. Your ISP can know what websites you access, how often and at what time. They may now end up creating a special package if you want to watch porn. So when your bill comes, it will have an ‘adult package’. That means that you have to get to the bill before anyone else does, and no one can see it after that. Worst of all, to get the package, you have to call your ISP and explain to that sweet lady that you want to watch porn!
This does not only apply to porn, but to all other data-intensive services like YouTube. This could eventually lead to ISPs charging different rates if you only do the conventional internet use or if you use the internet intensively. In such a case you would again have to out yourself by opting to pay to have access.
Now, for an ISP to accomplish such, it means one thing. That they need to closely monitor your internet usage to identify exactly what your web traffic is. This kind of data provides the ISP with another powerful tool; behavioral retargeting!
An ISP will now be able to deliver you the most personalized ads ever. Remember that the ISP can also monitor your movements. They know where you are connected from at a particular time.
Let’s say you are a basketball fan. You will surely have searched a few things about NBA. If your ISP advertises a certain game to you, then they can tell whether you attended that particular game!
They may choose to sell your data or not
Such data is very powerful in the advertising world, and your ISP may decide to sell it to interested parties who can cough good money. Let’s say Facebook or Google. If they do so, then they won’t have broken any regulation.
Well, some of this may be applicable even with net neutrality, but it just went a notch higher. You just have to take the word that your ISP gives you. Verizon, for instance, promises that they ‘won’t sell your data for whatever reason.’
How can you take back your Privacy?
In the meantime, there’s only one thing that you can do to try and restore net neutrality; use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
When you connect to a VPN, it encrypts your traffic and then tunnels it through a server of your choice. This means that to connect to the internet, your traffic doesn’t go through your ISP but through the connected VPN server. This leaves too little for the ISP to see and they can only know that you are connected to a VPN server. What you watch online, what websites you access and all your online habits can’t get to your ISP, and only the VPN servers have that information.
The best VPNs, however, offer zero log policies which mean that none of that information is stored on their servers and therefore can’t be retrieved even with a court order. After all, you can’t give what you don’t have.
It will be three weeks before the repeal of net neutrality comes into effect. Although the courts are about to get heated on the matter, there’s only one thing we can do as netizens, if we really care about our privacy- Use a VPN! For further information read our NordVPN review now.