You must be living under a rock if you are not aware of the whole broadband privacy rule episode that’s been going on for the past few days and have shaken the internet users of America. Online security and privacy enthusiasts all over the world are already voicing their concern over this broadband privacy law case because if it becomes an official regulation, (soon to be signed by President Trump) it would rip off every shred of online privacy the internet users in the US have and ISPs would then be able to go full berserk by harvesting and selling your personal information to third-party advertisers and that too without your permission. Yes, you read it right. “WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT!”
— Rashad Robinson (@rashadrobinson) March 27, 2017
Why Should You Care About the Broadband Privacy Law?
Your personal data related to your browsing history, health status, finances; simply put, any data that goes through your ISP will be used in profiling you to show you advertisements which would know you a little too well. There would be no end to these invasive activities and the worst part is that there are no alternatives to it as most of the internet users have not more than 2-3 options when it comes to choosing an ISP. And above all, let me take you to the dark side and show you a broader picture of what can actually happen in worst case scenario if this broadband privacy law goes official:
- This invasion of privacy would affect your free speech
- The information collected by your ISP can be sent to insurance companies to profile you
- If your personal information gets leaked in wrong hands, the third party can threaten you by asking a ransom or else he/she might forward that data to anyone who’s directly in relation with you, which can include both personal or professional prospects; someone like your employer perhaps
Last but not the least; it’s your personal data that’s at stake. Your personal information that defines you. Don’t let someone take control of your whole life by letting them know what digital footprints you’ve been creating and leaving all these years.
What Can You Do Now?
Now that you know what’s at stake because of this invasive privacy law, here are some proven nifty hacks and tips that can save you from ISP spying and third party monitoring, which includes some essential security tips that’ll ensure your privacy on the internet:
- Shut Down Geo-location services on your mobile devices
- Disable cookies from saving in your browser
- Use AdBlocker services
- Get creative with your passwords and make passwords that aren’t easy to guess
- Above all, “Use An Anonymous VPN Service”
By far, the most effective method for cloaking your internet activities and securing your online communications from being spied upon by your ISP and third-party advertisers is a VPN. Your VPN acts as an underground hidden passageway on the internet. Consider it like being in a different dimension on the internet by being present in the same timeline. Well, that went a little too sci-fi I guess.
Nonetheless, security experts have given their verdict and have advised all Americans to use a VPN as it will disallow anyone to track or monitor your digital footprints on the web.
But, the real question is, “Which VPN To Choose?”
Things You Should Know Before Choosing a VPN
Well, now that the fact is established that a VPN is the ultimate solution to this broadband privacy law menace, here comes another series of concerns that a lot of people have that which VPN provider should they trust? There are numerous factors that one should take into consideration when choosing a VPN provider. Mentioned below are some of the most crucial factors:
- A strict No-log policy
By using a VPN, your ISP can no longer associate your internet activities with you, but what if your VPN provider is maintaining a log of your activities? Well, that puts you in the same dungeon which you wanted to escape in the first place. Choose a VPN provider which follows a strict “NO-LOG POLICY.”
- Location Of Servers
Be extra careful when choosing a VPN provider which has its headquarter established in countries which are mentioned in the Five Eyes Countries. The countries which come in Five Eyes are United States, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. The Five Eyes basically refers to the coordination between the spying agencies of these countries. Try to find a VPN provider which is established in a country where data retention laws are not that strict, like Hong Kong.
- Security Features
You need to check the level of encryption your VPN provider offers as it will determine the extent of encryption your data will go through. Also see if they are offering features like Internet Kill Switch, multiple logins, and servers in multiple locations.
VPNs That Fits Our Criteria To Be Your Privacy Partner During This Rough Patch
Additional Security Tips to Ensure Your Online Privacy During This Broadband Privacy Law Reign
Although VPNs would give you all the protection you’d need, below are some additional privacy tips that can add more value to your online privacy. Apply these tips and ensure a foolproof web browsing.
1. Change Your Passwords For Good
When is the last time you’ve changed your password? Is your password too easy to guess? Well, we won’t suggest you change your password quite often but we will recommend you to change it now if you haven’t changed it in a long time. It would be better if you can make the password 12-15 characters long rather than choosing a small complex password with utter gibberish. Enable two-factor authentication wherever possible.
2. Cloak Your Conversations
It’s no secret that your phone calls and online communications are regularly recorded and monitored by NSA. Even if you choose to go for a burner phone, still it’s no use as the metadata being generated in that time span can also be potentially stored for data packet inspection. It would be better if you can switch to VoIP services as they provide end-to-end encryption because of which your calls and messages stay private.
3. Opt For a Secure Online Storage
Storing files online is a preemptive measure and a great decision because anything that’s stored on external devices are prone to damage, and as Cloud is a much secure option, it’s a no-brainer to opt for secure online cloud storage service providers. Look for the ones that are providing data encryption feature because that’s where the magic lies. Remember the golden rule, “If’ it’s not encrypted, it’s not secure.” So, choose wisely.
4. Start Using Duck Duck Go- A Search Engine That Doesn’t Track You
Very few people actually know any search engine other than Google. While Google is the most dominant player in the market, Duck Duck Go- a fairly new search engine is swiftly climbing up the ranks, and it’s specifically famous among those internet users who are careful about their digital footprints, because Duck Duck Go is a search engine that doesn’t track you, so it can’t show you advertisements based on your interest. So, for Duck Duck Go, you are anonymous.
5. Use The Best Antivirus And Anti-Malware Software
Suggesting you opt for an Antivirus or Anti-Malware programs is like getting back to Security Basics 101. Antivirus programs secure you from viruses, some even prevent hack attacks because of enhanced firewalls. But, be sure to update these antivirus programs so their database should be updated to counter the latest threats and viruses scouring the digital hemisphere.
Ready To Take Action?
Will you let your ISP and third-party advertisers inspect every data packet of your information in detail or encrypt it so hard using a VPN that it’ll become impossible for them to decipher anything? Yes, by using a VPN your internet speed will get affected, but is a little buffer on your video streaming is better than your privacy getting breached? A normal VPN’s yearly cost will vary from $50 – $100 a year, but it doesn’t cost more than losing your browsing history to anyone.
So, choose wisely and be prepared as the digital world for US internet users will become a movie scene from Wild West where the consumers would have to fight for their data and the winner is the one who’ll make the first informed and intelligent move.