You might think you’re privacy is intact when you’re online, but it really isn’t. Privacy is a basic human right, but unfortunately everything nowadays comes at a price. In America it is now legal for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to sell details of customers’ browsing history to advertisers. You might already feel violated by tailor made adverts that appear on many websites, but this I a step too far and will probably be a trend which spreads throughout the rest of the world.
But stay calm, because there are ways around this.
Change your ISP
Even if ISPs can legally harvest the data of their users for marketing purposes, it doesn’t mean they all will. The simple answer is to do a little bit of research and find out who will or won’t be using this practice and then switch to one of the food guys. Internet users who find themselves outside of major towns and cities might find the choice of alternative ISPs a little limiting so this option might not be on the table for them.
While they might happily harvest data from everyone who uses their service, most ISPs aren’t totally unscrupulous and will allow you to opt out of this. Beware of any company who might attempt to charge a fee to opt out or who doesn’t have information on how to opt out displayed on their website. Again this could ultimately lead to changing your ISP which is still problematic for some internet users.
Use a VPN
The most effective way to stop the harvesting of your data is by using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). A VPN will allow you to browse normal, but uses a third party to mask your IP address and keeping prying eyes away. It basically builds a tunnel between your PC and the provider of the VPN and totally circumvents your ISP’s servers.
You’re probably thinking that this sounds a bit dubious and cant actually be legal, but you’d be dead wrong. Privacy is a basic human right and while some might be trying to strip us of this actually remaining private is no crime at all.
As well as for privacy a VPN is also brilliant for providing you with an extra layer of security. You might well already be using antivirus programmes, anti malware operations or even a firewall and a VPN also offers all of this so you’re effectively doubly protected when using one. We’ve all heard horror stories about data being taken from people and used for nefarious purposes and the last thing you want is someone having access to your private emails and your bank account or knowing all of your passwords, even if it is your ISP. These details should be known by nobody but you and a VPN enables to remain more or less anonymous online.
A VPN will also allow the user to bypass any network restrictions which may be in place such as a block on certain internet content while at work or the use of certain streaming or torrenting services. We aren’t suggesting for a second that it’s ok to use a VPN to mask any illegal activity so make sure you continue to remain within the law when you use one.
The downside of using a VPN is that the provider can actually see what you’re up to if they wish (although many VPN services now encrypt information so they can’t actually do this) and there would be nothing stopping them in future doing exactly what your ISP might be doing today.
There are a variety of VPN services available, ranging from free to cheap to midrange to prohibitively expensive. It is not recommended to use a free VPN service as they often aren’t very good, but you don’t need to shop at the high end either. Do a bit of research, read customer feedback and find out which VPN is best for you.
Sadly the world is run by money and while this continues none of your personal data is sacred. Using the above methods is the best way to stop your data being harvested as well as preventing identity theft or having your bank account hacked, and you really can’t put a price on that sort of peace of mind.