What Do Internet Service Providers Do With My Browsing History?
You don’t need to sell forbidden substances on the dark web to worry about your private information leaking out. Not only criminals need to protect their privacy. Perhaps you live in an authoritarian country, and speaking out against the current regime would result in beheading, which you would prefer to avoid. Or, you don’t want your employer to know that you’ve been looking for a new job. Unfortunately, the chances are, your ISP is collecting a ton of data about your online activity every day. In a second you’ll learn why are they doing it and how to prevent this. Let’s go!
Why should you care about it?
If you think that if you do not engage in any illicit activity, then you shouldn’t worry about internet service providers tracking your history, then sorry to disappoint you, but you are wrong. According to the experts at Security Gladiators, you don’t need to engage in any criminal activity to experience the consequences of your ISP tracking your online activity.
Aren’t you sometimes surprised by how good Youtube is at recommending you new videos? No, it cannot read minds yet. What it can do, though, is to analyze all the data it collects about you and then reach a conclusion. If there’s enough data, it can suit your tastes perfectly. Unfortunately, this mechanism isn’t only at work when it comes to Youtube recommendations.
Do you remember all those windows that pop up when you enter most websites? Yeah, you have just agreed to cooperate. Now you’ll start seeing ads based on your search history and all your online activity. Sure, it might be helpful at times, but things start getting creepy when you send a snap to your friend with radio commercial praising a new toaster in the background, and suddenly, you start seeing ads of toasters everywhere on the internet. Not cool.
What gets tracked?
When it comes to your browsing history, every bit of it can be sold for a profit. The websites you tend to visit, how much time you spend there, at what times do you visit them. But also where are you currently located, what are your private information including sex, age, favourite QOTSA album, list of googled medical conditions, and your telephone number. Well, everything.
What could you do?
If you want to keep your privacy, you should start using either TOR or VPNs, or perhaps mix them both. Okay, so first things first – what are they?
Tor was initially developed by US intelligence to make it more difficult to hack into confidential government data. Think of classified sites, secret agents, undercover operations – everything that shouldn’t ever leak out. With time, though, Tor became available for the public to use.
Okay, so how does it work?
If you use Tor to browse the internet, all your activity is encrypted, and then it goes through several Tor servers. It means that if you do something on the internet that is punishable by law, it will make it difficult for the government to track you down. Not entirely impossible, mind you, but if great efforts aren’t put into discovering your identity, you are most likely safe.
VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) make it possible to use a private network, instead of a public one. VPN’s are not only used by people living in countries ruled by authoritarian regimes, or people wanting to hire a killer. Companies that make it possible for their employees to work remotely often use VPNs so that any data vital to the company won’t leak out.
In most cases, both Tor and VPNs should be more than enough to mask your online activity. It doesn’t mean, though, that you are completely untraceable now. This is why some people decide to combine those two methods to make it even more difficult to trace them. The only way to be entirely sure about your privacy is to stay off the internet altogether, but let’s be honest – it is not a viable option for most of us.
Additionally, remember that the governments will try to track any illegal activity – perhaps with varying success, but remember that every time you order a package containing orange teslas via Tor, there is a chance, although not a big one, that you might get caught.
The golden age of the internet is long gone. What was initially created as a means for people to communicate freely, soon become a playground for companies that collect data and advertisers. That’s why you should use Tor and VPNs to make it close to impossible to track your browser history. Sure, they won’t provide you with 100% certainty, but if you aren’t likely to stop using the internet at all, they are the best option there is.