While hacking into someone’s privacy is one thing, another aspect that we need to focus on is selling data. A lot of well-established ISP services have come under fire for selling consumer data. We may be busy worrying about the likes of Google and Facebook but these are the biggest culprits of all. Companies like AT&T and Comcast have faced a lot of criticism for selling user data without their permission. One of the biggest cases was when Verizon paid fines for using “super-cookies” for data collection. These are special types of cookies that you cannot delete, even after you clear the cookies. US law does make selling data legal for ISPs since 2017, but only with the permission of the user. However, most companies simply don’t care about these laws and use technicalities to continue collecting user data.
What data do they collect?
To put it in simple words, pretty much everything! Since your ISP is the source of your internet, all your traffic runs through their servers and that means they can see everything you do. They can find out what websites you visit, how much time you spend on them, and if you are not using HTTPS, everything else as well. This is a great and easy source of selling consumer data. HTTPS protocol makes sure that even though your ISP knows the site you are on, they cannot see the data that is passing between you and the site. This is crucial when you talk about pages where you enter private information like phone numbers, addresses, credit card details, etc. It does impact the prospects of selling data but still, HTTPS server names are open so the ISP can know the website you are on.
What can you do about it?
There are quite a few ways in which you can keep your browsing data private. Many different tools allow you to maintain a good amount of privacy and prevent your ISP from selling information about you. Of course, you should also look beyond the prospects of ISPs selling information and focus on privacy in general as well.
- HTTPS Everything! Funny enough, this is both advice and an actual browser extension that you can use. Securing your online traffic will greatly reduce the chances of your ISP selling data about you. But it is not the complete solution.
- Use Tor Network. This is a network of servers spread all over the world that ensures complete privacy and anonymity. All your traffic goes through three different servers in three different locations, all randomly selected. The result is a foolproof security system. However, it can be quite difficult to set up for some users and the speed also drops a lot.
- Use VPN. Probably the best and easiest solution is to use a good VPN service like VPN Shazam’s Turbo Dynamic VPN. In a few clicks, you can get all your traffic routed through private servers that encrypt everything and protect your privacy strongly so your ISP cannot find details about you.