The US House of Representatives dealt Internet privacy in the United States a harsh blow on March 28, 2017. Lawmakers voted to eliminate rules for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that prohibit an ISP from selling the browsing histories of users. Under the new legislation, an ISP can sell browsing preferences and data to third parties willing to pay the most money for the information.
In the wake of the House’s decision, Google Trends revealed that Google searches for “VPN” shot to a five-year high. While many people have turned to VPNs for added security and protection in recent years, there are still many people who do not use a Virtual Private Network to secure their data. This could change now that the US government has chosen to eliminate online privacy rules.
What You Need to Know About Online Privacy Now
The FCC has long been subject to specific rules which were established to guarantee Internet users in the United States a certain amount of privacy. One of these rules dictated that your ISP, or Internet Service Provider, could not sell your browsing history to another company. Many third-party marketing firms seek out browsing data so that they can target unwitting Internet users with ads that appeal to their interests.
As of last week, no such restrictions now exist. In theory, an ISP may sell your browsing history to anyone they choose. It remains to be seen how many ISPs will take advantage of the situation. Reasons suggests that most will because it is an economical issue. Selling user data can be a big source of revenue to an ISP.
Many citizens in the United States have been left shaking their head in the wake of this decision. For many years, the US has led the world in Internet freedom. Now, this approach seems to be at risk. As a result, many Internet users this week went looking for a VPN.
Can a VPN Solve Your Privacy Problem?
A VPN is useful in that it secures your Internet browsing and also affords a degree of anonymity. Top VPN providers like VPNaccounts.com do not retain logs or user browsing data. It is impossible for these providers to sell your data because they do not retain it.
VPNs accomplish privacy by using an encrypted “tunnel” or connection between your ISP and your device. As data is passed back and forth through the tunnel, it is encrypted so that no one is able to precisely identify the data being transferred. A VPN also changes a user’s IP address. If usage were tracked, it would only lead back to the VPN provider and not the end user.
However, some of the individuals who began searching for a VPN this week might be surprised to know that all VPN providers are not reputable. Many of them do the exact same thing that ISPs will be able to do under the new legislation. They can sell your browsing data.
It is especially important to be wary of so-called “free” VPN service. In 2015, the free VPN provider Hola came under fire for selling the bandwidth of its customers. In theory, a user of the service could have had their bandwidth hijacked for the purpose of something illegal. Sadly, stories like this one are all too common.
Free VPN providers have to pay for their servers somehow, so many of them resort to selling ads. They can also allow third-parties to use adware to target customers. The first step to selecting an effective VPN is to choose a pay service. VPNaccounts.com has one of the most affordable pricing structures in the industry and does not depend on third-party revenue to maintain its servers.
It also pays to carefully read the terms and conditions before signing up for VPN service. Ask questions. You can usually assess the reputation of a VPN provider by how fast and how thoroughly they respond to your inquiries.
Could Internet Privacy in the US Be in Danger?
The unfortunate truth is that Internet privacy in the United States has been dying a slow death for a while now. From NSA spying and data collection to these new measures by the House, the US is not the unregulated Internet haven it used to be. After the new measures were approved by the House and Senate, all that remains is for President Donald Trump to sign the Online Privacy Bill. In effect, Trump will undo all the Internet privacy measures enacted by the Obama administration.
During his first 100 days in office, Trump has made it clear he has no problem rolling back laws with the simple stroke of a pen. It is also noteworthy that Trump called for Internet restrictions during his campaign. At one point he stated that he would enlist the help of Bill Gates to “close up that Internet.”
Now may be the best time for individuals to search out a reputable VPN provider before things go from bad to worse. Other countries have followed up strong Internet regulation by cracking down on VPN providers. In some cases, access to the provider’s websites have been restricted.