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ISPs Can Now Sell Your Data: How to Protect Yourself

ISPs can Sell Your Data

This spring, Congress and then President Trump rolled back protections for consumers that previously prevented Internet Service Providers (ISP) from collecting and selling personal data. While consumers grumbled, advertisers have celebrated. ISPs can now profit from the sales of data they weren’t previously allowed to collect and personal marketing profiles can be created to boost online sales.

How ISPs can Collect Data

There are several ways that ISPs can now collect data for profit. From basic monitoring of internet activities, ISPs can accumulated data on websites that users visits, how much time they spend there, which links they click, and which products they ultimately buy. To bolster demographic information on potential customers, ISPs can use deep packet inspection to uncover personal information that is often grouped together, like name, age, and location. ISPs can also use beacons, found within mobile data, to pinpoint the exact location of users. You might have noticed that some services have already used this data. Apps can remind us to use a coupon or take advantage of a sale when we’re in close proximity to the store. The difference lies in user opt-in for these services. Under these new regulations, users don’t opt-in and they can’t opt-out. Finally, ISPs can now respond to government requests for personal data. These requests could be used for positive purposes, like stopping a potential terrorist attack, or they could be utilized as yet another source of profit for ISPs.

Will ISPs Sell My Data?

While many people have doubts that ISPs will stick to promises to honor their customer’s privacy, Brian Dietz from the Internet and Television Association told the Washington Post, “"Regardless of the legal status of the FCC’s broadband privacy rules, we remain committed to protecting our customers’ privacy and safeguarding their information because we value their trust.” Time will tell whether ISPs will give in to the temptation to sell out customers’ data for potentially massive profits.

What Can I Do to Protect my Data?

It will be important than ever for users to pay more attention to their online behavior. Whenever possible, use the secure version of websites (HTTPS). ISPs will still be able to collect some data but not as much. A Chrome app can help users remember to use HTTPs whenever possible. VPNs are another way to protect user data. This solution isn’t without problems though because some sites, like Netflix, block VPNs. Many suspect fewer VPNs will be available with China’s demands to pull them from the App Store.

With fewer ways to protect your data online, it’s even more important to guard your offline data. Practice regular backups. If you experience data loss, trust Secure Data’s commitment to complete confidentiality throughout the entire recovery process.

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