As you've seen on the news, United States Congress voted to kill privacy regulations that would have governed ISPs and protected consumer privacy. This means your Internet Service Provider (or "ISP") is still allowed to monitor what you do online and share this information with third parties like advertisers. They do not need your explicit permission to do this, and oftentimes, you are "opted in" automatically when you connect to the Internet through their services. In the wake of this news, many are asking what they should do to protect their privacy. There's a lot of information out there, some of which is confusing, so we've made it simple. Here's what you should do now.
1 - Get a VPN
What Is It: VPN stands for virtual private network. A VPN encrypts your Internet connection, preventing anyone from viewing your online activity. Encrypting your connection scrambles the information sent over the connection, so only those with the "key" (the sender and recipient) can unscramble and view the information. How It Helps: Using a VPN prevents your ISP from seeing what you're doing online, so they cannot spy or snoop on your activity and your privacy remains protected from end to end. VyprVPN is a great way to protect your information from your snooping ISP, and we're offering 25% off -sign up now.
2 - Use HTTPS
What Is It: HTTPS is the protocol over which data is sent between your browser and a website. The "S" in HTTPS (as opposed to HTTP) indicates your connection is secure. How It Helps: HTTPS keeps you more private than browsing with simply HTTP, as your connection over HTTPS is encrypted and secured. The EFF offers an "HTTPS Everywhere" browser extension which makes staying secured easy - you can get it here.
3 - Use Encrypted Email and Storage
What Is It: While a VPN protects your communications and data while its in transit, or being sent across the Internet, encrypting your email and storage (we recommend Spideroak) protects your information when it's at rest, or already delivered to your inbox or stored on your computer. How It Helps: A VPN is a good way to ensure your information isn't intercepted by a hacker, snoop, ISP or government – while email or storage encryption ensures it can't be snooped upon once it's been saved and/or delivered.
4 - Adjust Your DNS
What Is It: DNS, or Domain Name Servers, are an "address book" for the Internet, cataloging domain names and translating them to Internet protocols (IPs). Unless you adjust something, all requests you make online are generally routed through your ISP's DNS, meaning your ISP can see everything you do. By adjusting your DNS, you can stop this from happening. How It Helps: A VPN sends DNS requests through the DNS used by the VPN provider, which prohibits your ISP from seeing what you're doing online. It's important to note VPN DNS might still be monitored or experience DNS leaks if hosted by third parties. As VyprVPN uses our proprietary DNS - VyprDNS™ - which we 100% own and maintain your privacy is completely protected.
5 - Get Involved
While it's important to stand up for your privacy rights, it's also important to recognize the fight over these specific FCC privacy regulations is now over. The bill has been signed into law by the President, and similar rules are prohibited from going into place in the future. Now it's time to use our energy (and concern) toenact change over things we can control - the next privacy issues on the horizon. We should now turn our attention to Open Internet, and start talking (and fighting) for Open Access - a principle Golden Frog has always advocated for. You can also get involved by supporting an advocacy organization dedicated to protecting your digital privacy and rights. Two great organizations standing up for your privacy are EFF and CDT:
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF, is offering tips to protect yourself in the wake of the ruling. View Article.
- The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) also offers a quiz to assess your privacy and tips to get involved. View Now.
So there you have it – some quick and easy ways you can protect your privacy online and browse with confidence, despite the latest legislation. Please share this guide with your friends and networks and help spread the word.