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The FCC, You and Your ISP: Protect Your Browsing History

by: Hostwinds Team  /  April 15, 2017


Tags: privacy 

You probably know by now that the Federal Communications Commission's guidelines to protect your internet usage history will no longer be. The regulations, put into action during the Obama administration, would have taken effect this coming December. But it was voted down, and now your ISP will have the right to sell data it knows about you to anyone unless other restrictions get put into place. There was little hope that maybe President Trump would surprise everyone and not sign the bill, but that fell flat on April 3rd.

Now more than ever that your privacy is up for grabs. How do you protect it? Hostwinds can protect your information from your ISP with our VPN. This allows you to browse in privacy without worrying that your information is sold to the highest bidder. And don't think that the new regulations that are supposed to be coming will help…

New restrictions doubtful

The FCC is expected to outline new restrictions that ISPs will have to follow. But the odds of those restrictions limiting them on what they can share about you aren't very good. The main reason why? FCC chair, Ajit Pai, has had no qualms about hiding his opposition.

What can you do to protect your browsing history?

So what can you do if you don't want to reduce the risk of your browsing history getting into other people's hands? One recommended solution is using a virtual private network (VPN). You may have heard of them before but either didn't think much about them or didn't understand them… but now have an increased interest in what benefits a VPN may hold.

Using a VPN to hide from your ISP

When you use a VPN to browse the internet, the only thing your ISP sees is that you're accessing that VPN. The VPN then acts as a gateway to the rest of the internet, allowing you to browse without your ISP knowing every little thing you do. Some VPN providers still watch where you're visiting, though. So it would help if you chose a provider that you can trust.

And that, in all likelihood, means not using a free VPN service (and there are plenty of them out there). Suppose they aren't making any money from the services they offer. In that case, it doesn't take a lot of brainpower to realize it's very likely they're making their money some other way. Were they selling information about their users? I'll leave that for you to ponder.

When you use a VPN to browse the internet, the only thing your ISP sees is that you're accessing that VPN. Click To Tweet

Another thing to remember is that a good VPN service will have a clear privacy policy. They'll also have clear rules and guidelines in place.

As a Hostwinds VPN user, you have complete autonomy without any fear of your information being sold. We do not track or record any of your browsing histories. However, as per our terms of service, we don't condone the use of our services to take part in any copyright infringement or other illegal activities.

Use TOR

You could also try using TOR, but keep in mind it's slow. Very slow. You could also draw attention to yourself since many shady types (or legit ones like journalists) who need anonymity use this all-volunteer network.

A VPN is probably the best way to protect against your ISP scooping up info about you that it plans to profit from. But your ISP isn't the only one who does this. So do many other entities (*cough* Google).

So, here are more things you can do if you want more control over your online privacy.

Take control of your information and cookies.

Cookies

If you still haven't got into the habit of cleaning out your history and cookies regularly, then now may be the time to do so. Usually, this means cleaning it all out. But there are times when you might want to clear certain parts. This is possible in pretty much any major browser. If you aren't sure how to do this, PC World has a guide that can help.

Take control of your search.

Yes, you probably have a favorite search engine you couldn't imaging doing without. And yes, it's probably Google, Bing, or Yahoo. And guess what? They are watching your every move. That's how they know what ads to serve you and a big part of how they've built their empires.

The good news is there are search engines that pride themselves on letting you search in private. With lots of media attention, the one with the most significant following lately is Duck Duck Go. They deliver ad-free, instant search results within a secure, private environment. But they aren't the only duck in the pond (yeah, really). Hongkiat highlights 12 search engines, including Duck Duck Go, that don't hijack your information.

Browser

Don't bundle all of your search histories into one browser. Use multiple browsers so, at any given time, only a chunk of your information is available. Of course, you still want to use a search engine like the ones mentioned above and clean your history and cookies regularly. You can take it a step further, too, by using tools such as the Ghostery browser or Privacy Badger.

Conclusion

While we may not control what the government, the FCC, internet providers, or big companies do, we are left with nothing to do but throw our hands up in the air or live off the grid. Hopefully, better options will open up soon. Still, for now, these are just a few ways to keep your browsing history as private as possible.

Learn more about keeping your information private with our VPNs here, or talk to one of our friendly reps down there in the corner using live chat.

Share this post if you've found it helpful, and of course, if you have any other tips to add, please leave a comment below!

Curious… What's your choice of #privacy protection?

— Hostwinds (@Hostwinds) April 20, 2017

Written by Hostwinds Team  /  April 15, 2017

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