The end of an era? ISPs get green light to sell users’ web history

UPDATE, March 29th: Less than a week after the Senate voted to empower internet service providers to freely share private user data with advertisers, the House has weighed in, too. Now, only a signature from the president stands in the way of the repeal.

March 23rd is a day that will go down in history. The US Senate has voted to eliminate broadband privacy rules that would have required ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to get consumers’ explicit consent before selling or sharing web browsing data and other private data with advertisers as well as other companies. Seems that the UK’s Snooper’s Charter was only the beginning of a much more worrying global trend.
 

ISP now stands for “invading subscriber privacy”

… in the words of senator Ed Markey, a Democrat.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted along party lines to repeal Internet privacy protections that were approved by the Federal Communications Commission just days before Donald Trump won the election.

The rules, which had not yet gone into effect, would have required Internet service providers to get the person’s permission before collecting and sharing personal data on everything from web browsing history to geo-location information.

Providers would also have been required to notify customers about the types of information collected and shared.

But on March 23rd all this turned into a mere dream. The Senate prevents all of these rules from taking effect, unless the House or President Trump decide otherwise. And we strongly doubt the latter would happen.

#ISP now stands for Invading Subscriber Privacy. Reclaim your right to #InternetPrivacy with #CyberGhost Click to Tweet

 

The repeal happened to avoid “confusion” among people

The Senate measure was introduced two weeks ago by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and 23 Republican co-sponsors. Flake said at the time that he is trying to “protect consumers from overreaching Internet regulation.”

President Trump’s FCC Chairman Ajit Pai argues that consumers would be confused if there are different privacy rules for ISPs than for online companies like Google and Facebook. “American consumers should not have to be lawyers or engineers to figure out if their information is protected” Pai recently declared. 

 

What this could mean to you

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) put together some highly likely and deeply worrying uses that will now be made of US citizens’ data. Among these:

Selling user location and personal information to marketers: this is something that some ISPs already do but hesitate to admit, fearing public reaction. With this vote, companies no longer have to fear that.

Hijacking searches: a search for a particular object may automatically redirected to a company offering that product – a company that paid your ISP for that traffic and which is most likely not offering the best deal.

Inserting ads: what in the past was a nuisance may now become the norm. Ads will probably pop up everywhere (search engines, social media) based on your traffic.

Installing apps on your phone that track you: mobile software such as Carrier IQ can send data on what apps you use and what websites you visit.

Undetectable tracking code: even if you use the browsers’ “incognito” mode, your ISPs will still know where you are going online and when. And will then sell that data to anyone willing to pay what they charge.

If these don’t seem too worrying, because ISPs already had access to our personal data, think about it like this: now it is perfectly legitimate for them to do so.

So let’s imagine this scenario: you are looking for a job and apply on as many company websites as possible. A potential employer can request your ISP to provide them with your browsing history, which will disclose all the other jobs you applied for as well as other online habits you have which you don’t wish to draw attention towards (you know what we’re talking about). This apparently “small” change could cost you the job of your dreams, among other things.

 

So, what is the best solution?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation says that it is not too late to stop these rules from taking effect. You can call your lawmakers today and tell them to protect your privacy from your ISP.

However, worst-case scenario, ISPs will now be given carte blanche to use their customers’ data as they please.

A VPN such as CyberGhost is the best way to keep your personal data private and protected.

How does CyberGhost work?

The IP address assigned to you by your ISP is replaced with one from CyberGhost, which you will share with other users, so it will be impossible to be associated with you. Your real IP address, the one from your Internet provider, remains hidden and the pages you access only register the IP address we assign you.

Furthermore, thanks to the CyberGhost encryption, the ISP only knows that you connect to a VPN server, but it cannot inspect the traffic (content) itself. You become anonymous. You become untraceable.

Download CyberGhost at this link. You can opt for the free version, but this will imply some waiting time on your behalf, until free user slots are available. A more convenient option is the Premium version of CyberGhost, which gives you access to a lot more features and profiles. Get your subscription from here.

 

Sources:

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2017/03/five-creepy-things-your-isp-could-do-if-congress-repeals-fccs-privacy-protections

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/03/senate-votes-to-let-isps-sell-your-web-browsing-history-to-advertisers/

http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/23/technology/senate-internet-privacy/

http://money.cnn.com/2016/10/28/technology/fcc-broadband-privacy/?iid=EL

https://www.flake.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2017/3/flake-introduces-resolution-to-protect-consumers-from-overreaching-internet-regulation

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/03/23/senate_votes_to_let_isps_sell_browser_histories/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/03/23/congress-is-poised-to-undo-landmark-rules-covering-your-internet-privacy/?utm_term=.35e0cf383098

About the author

Corina Dumitrescu
Corina Dumitrescu

A professional wordsmith, Corina has improved her writing skills through extensive experiences in journalism, advertising and marketing. Curious by nature, she enjoys learning foreign languages and discovering everything, as well as everyone around her.

11 Comments

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  • And, as you could add, because of the encryption the ISP only knows that you connect to a VPN server, but it cannot inspect the traffic (content) itself.

  • First of all, this app is more than amazing and useful. Further more, and a question for developers – I do use your premium version. But what specificley that article apeals on?-for us as premium users? We are all sick and tired of invading our privacy to corporal marketing ect. That is why I use CG. So, please reply how is that article related to premium users, and also, are they as such still protected by CG? Thank you

    • Hi Vendy and thank you for your kind words! Both free and Premium users’ online privacy is protected by the CyberGhost apps, just that Premium users have some extra features – they, for instance, can choose which country they wish to surf the web from in order to access content that is blocked in their region. There are some other differences, as well – more here. So yes, your online privacy is safe with CyberGhost Premium, rest assured.

  • Hi Corina
    I have a question regarding this news of the ISP, I am a premium user of CG, I manage virtual purses like Paypal, I travel for United States and Latin America, I could make transactions from one country to another country activating CG according to the country where I interview, Without difficulty.

    thanks for your reply

    • Hi Thomas! Unfortunately, we don’t have any servers in countries from Latin America and that’s because some of them have limitations concerning Internet use and often censor websites. If you wish to see all the countries we have servers in, access the list here. Cheers and have a good day!

  • Just a correction to the ‘UK snooper charter’, fortunately it was rejected by European commission as to intrusive, however, I’m still no fan of the ‘European economic market’ nor their plans as they are more authoritarian once you look into the plans they have for the future, so the separation from Brussels couldn’t come fast enough for me.
    I just downloaded your app a few day’s ago, after I received an email with a offer for around £30.00+ tax for your premium plus level of service. I thought it was a very reasonable offer after I tested it out first from your app with the week free trial.
    It’s been working very well with no slow down, wherever you assign your iP address to, the encryption appears to be doing it’s job, glad I changed the service I usually use to CG, if it stays like this I will have no problem signing up next year to.

    • Hi there and thank you for your comment! Indeed, the EU have found the Snooper’s Charter as too intrusive, however, with Brexit… I’m afraid EU’s opinion won’t matter that much in the future. Regardless, CyberGhost is a great way to protect your privacy and we are very happy you enjoy our app. Cheers and have a good day!

  • Hi. I was using CyberGhost but it wouldn’t let me access my own bank and other sites and I couldn’t get support to figure out how to fix that so I’ve uninstalled the program.

    I am concerned about my ISP selling my private information though and would really like to understand how to control CyberGhost.

    • Hi there, Cheryl! This sounds like something our colleagues from Support would be more than happy to assist you with. To get in touch with them, simply use the Live Chat feature on this page: http://s.cgvpn.net/yv, available between 9.00-18.00 EET (GMT+2), from Monday to Friday. Should you have any other queries, please don’t hesitate to write me. Cheers and have a good day!

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