What does it mean for you now that Congress has repealed Internet privacy rules?
When we hear that our privacy is about to be compromised, our initial reaction is going to be outrage. However, then we begin to realize that the amount of specifically targeted ads that pop up on every site proves that perhaps we don’t have as much privacy on the Internet as we originally thought. So, what do these new rules actually mean for you, and how can you safeguard your Internet privacy?
Overturning the rules created by the FCC
Remember how Eminem complained about how the FCC wouldn’t let him be, trying to shut him down on MTV? With Eminem, they were trying to stop him from swearing too much, but in the case of online privacy rules, the FCC wouldn’t let your Internet service provider (ISP) be saving your browsing history and selling it to the highest advertiser. Unlike Slim Shady, the FCC was actually trying to let us be. If our ISP wanted to collect, store, and sell our private data for profit, they would have to get our permission. Well, those days will soon be gone.
Did we ever have Internet privacy?
Look, it doesn’t sound good, but the truth is, we don’t have a whole lot of privacy when we search the Internet. Your provider may not be using your data to help advertisers target their ads better, but many other sites that we frequent have been collecting, storing, and capitalizing on our Internet usage. Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc. – all use your Web activity to “improve content” for each user. To some degree, your Internet provider has always been allowed to store your data and sell it to advertisers. It’s how Target knows that you are pregnant before you tell your parents.
Potential consequences for Net Neutrality
Overturning the Internet privacy rule could be a gateway to making changes in how the Internet is run in the future. The Net Neutrality Rule as it stands today says that ISPs should “enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.” Net Neutrality ensures that your business’ presence online and all of your online data can’t be discriminated against, like charging you more than others to make your website easily accessible.
Protecting your Internet privacy
So, now that you know that Internet privacy is a myth, let’s talk about ways that you can safeguard yourself against new and more aggressive data collection techniques.
- Get a VPN to hide your IP address – beware that some sites will not run when you are using a VPN, like Netflix.
- Opt out of ad-targeting programs
- Get an ad blocker – some sites won’t work with an ad blocker, as they rely on sponsors and advertisers. However, this way, you are in control of which ads you block and on which sites you allow ads to be shown.
- Choose a smaller ISP that opposes the repeal of the FCC Broadband Privacy Rule.
Small business IT solutions
Talk to an IT expert about your options for protecting your online privacy.