Ramblings of an old Doc
Privacy? What privacy?
Published on April 1, 2017 By DrJBHL In Personal Computing

 

Well, SJ34 passed. That little gem can be read here.

"Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services”.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services” (81 Fed. Reg. 87274 (December 2, 2016)), and such rule shall have no force or effect."

Basically, it means ISPs no longer have to ask you whether you agree to their selling your private browsing data or not.

So, never mind what I think about this usurpation of your right to privacy: What can you do to protect yourself? The linked article from TechRepublic goes into it in some detail, but it boils down to this: 

  1. Use ToR: We've written about ToR several times at TechRepublic, and with good reason: It works. That doesn't mean it's easy to set up or get used to, though. One more reason not to rely on ToR for daily browsing is that lots of websites block ToR traffic because it's impossible to monetize. ( https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/org/doc/ListOfServicesBlockingTor )
  2. Use a VPN: Virtual private networks are sort of like ToR, in that they relay your traffic through a bunch of servers before spitting you out at your destination. The free ones aren't that good, however, and the good ones are far from free. Expect slower browsing speeds too: All that rerouting takes precious milliseconds.
  3. Consider local ISPs: Some of the biggest lobbyists for the repeal of regulations protecting consumer data are ISPs like Comcast and Verizon—they stand to make billions in targeted ad deals. Some small-scale local ISPs have said they won't collect or sell data, so take a look at them if you're looking for a new provider.
  4. Research: If you're curious about your ISP's position on data gathering look into it. Call, email, or check out their website and if you don't find an explicit statement saying they don't collect or sell data it's safe to assume they will.
I chose not to use ToR. Frankly, it's a P.I.T.A., and use Opera, instead. "I'll use 'incognito' mode." - won't help much at all as the ISP will see the url request. 
The best you can really do is a VPN...and yeah, it'll be slower, but it'll also protect you more. Also, if you have a choice of ISPs, check out their privacy policies. 
Sorry to have to write this at all...it's just a measure of how much your legislators regard you as a person deserving privacy versus a commodity. 
There will most likely be lawsuits over this. Don't count on privacy winning.
Sources:
 
 

Comments
on Apr 01, 2017

I would say 'only in the US' but it's happening everywhere... governments and whoever wanting to know your every move... and non-move.  Yup, they even want to know when you haven't done something [they think you should have]... so they can hold it against you if/when needed.

Bottom line: knowledge = power... power = control.

on Apr 01, 2017

Well...just wanna let folks know they can still do something about it...

on Apr 01, 2017


won't help much at all as the ISP will see the url request.

If you use HTTPS at least, the most they can see is the IP or hostname of the server, not what page you're visiting.

on Apr 01, 2017

We'll see how long those local ISP's resist the temptation.

This will create some increase in demand for truly effective end-user privacy controls, and there are plenty of smart people out there looking to make an honest buck.  How much demand is anybody's guess, but I imagine the local ISP business may see a small boon initially, as long as they stick to their privacy guns, anyway.

I have little trust in Google, if any, but their privacy controls are pretty granular, at least on the advertising delivery side.  Near as I can tell, nothing to keep them from selling your usage data, though.

As for VPN's, I use one on all my devices but content providers are capable of denying delivery if they detect a VPN or proxy, Netflix being the most notable example, so you can expect more of that I would imagine in order to be certain usage data is captured.

on Apr 01, 2017

https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2017-03-30/internet-users-cant-buy-lawmakers-browsing-histories-industry-says-but-not-everyones-convinced

"Industry representatives tell U.S. News they won't be selling the browsing histories of individual lawmakers, but uncertainty about success hasn't stopped a steady flow of small-dollar contributions toward that goal."

Hmm, maybe this is a job for Wikileaks if ISP's won't cooperate...

 

on Apr 01, 2017

We could always go back to dialing into BBS's.

on Apr 02, 2017

Daiwa

As for VPN's, I use one on all my devices but content providers are capable of denying delivery if they detect a VPN or proxy, Netflix being the most notable example, so you can expect more of that I would imagine in order to be certain usage data is captured.

Yeah, I'm using one on all mine now as well, as well as an encryptor for my passwords, etc. After getting my email accounts hacked last year I figured on taking some extra precautions.  I also installed the Trend Micro security suite, which strengthens Windows firewall and protects against drive bys, etc.  However, the best prevention is surfing the net and operating email accounts from an account of the 'least privelege.  I do that on my HP 2-in-1 but have yet to set it up on this machine.... ah, so much to do and not enough hours in the day.

As for content providers blocking content to suspected VPN users, I remember reading somewhere that VPN devs are working on a 'smoke screen' to prevent that. 

I briefly signed up with Netflix [Australian version] until we got Foxtel connected, and found it to be a poor imitation of the US version.  With only a small percentage of the programs shown in the US, and planned cuts to those as well, I cancelled the subscription after just 2 months because I saw no real value for the money.... and adding the cost of a decent, reliable VPN on top it to view overseas versions just wasn't worth it.

on Apr 02, 2017

starkers

the best prevention is surfing the net and operating email accounts from an account of the 'least privilege.

Good regarding malware.

Less so when relating to loss of privacy due to the cupidity of our Congress, disguised as 'leveling the playing field' with Google, etc. God forbid they level that playing field by forbidding the sale of personal data completely, and punishing it with severe fines and sentencing...mandatory. But then, that would be sending the message that privacy and individual rights are actually important, which isn't the case, at all.

on Apr 02, 2017

DrJBHL

Quoting starkers,
reply 7
the best prevention is surfing the net and operating email accounts from an account of the 'least privilege.

Good regarding malware.

Yes, and that bit was mostly in relation to malware. However, the two are not mutually exclusive.  Various companies and individuals use malware/spyware to track and surveil users and their habits, etc.  So yes, an account of least privelge does help prevent spying and privacy intrusions.

on Apr 02, 2017

Quoting the OP...

"all your data is belongs to us"

Shouldn't that read "all your data is belongs to Uncle Sam" 

on Apr 02, 2017


"all your data is belongs to us"

Shouldn't that read "all your data is belongs to Uncle Sam" 

"Uncle Sam" = U.S. = us. In case you wondered where the term "Uncle Sam" came from.

on Apr 02, 2017

WWII recruiting poster. Old dude, long goatie wearing a red, white and blue top hat pointing a finger at you and saying "Uncle Sam wants you"

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