This is a don’t use VPNs as a solution piece and to distrust people pushing them.
So you’ve probably read article after article about how congress voted a couple of weeks ago to let your ISP track and sell data about you. Here’s one such article in case you hadn’t.
What this means is that regardless of whether you’re in incognito mode, some advertiser is going to know to advertise latex hamster suits to you, or whatever weird it is you were researching for your all hamster recreation of Pulp Fiction.
Clearing browser history, burning your computer, so on and so forth will not stop the service provider you’re paying for bandwidth from turning around and selling your browsing history to the highest bidder.
Some of the higher bidders could potentially turn around and identify you and threaten to out your history to family, friends, etc. Not likely, but that’s a possibility.
A lot of people are suggesting a VPN.
Why a VPN?
- VPNs make the people who sell them roughly half of the sell amount.
- VPNs cover your tracks pretty well as long as you’ve done some legwork securing rogue apps and browser extensions.
You should note #1. An average yearly VPN membership is $45 of which the site or person who refers you will most likely get at least $20. It’s an insanely lucrative solution that doesn’t involve having to get anyone who respects your right to not be spied on elected and a new privacy bill passed.
Although I suggest the first two and have links there, be it known I’m taking half the cost and converting it into baby poop through a long and complicated set of transactions and biological conversions. I also actually do like both.
Why not a VPN?
While a VPN is a solution to the loss of privacy protections it’s not an ideal solution. The ideal solution would be to break up the oligopoly ISP model and then only do business with companies that respect your privacy. Unfortunately that’s probably not going to be happening any time soon and getting Congress to reverse course on deregulation just means your private browsing data profits the company you’re paying insanely high rates for bandwidth to.
VPNs also by their nature always slow you down some as you’re adding a lot of extra internet hops to get from A to B.
You can also obscure your tracks by doing your normal browsing in a TOR client. Free. Slower. Untrackable.
But what if I just want to watch the world burn?
When the repeal of protections goes into effect I’m going to suggest all concerned citizens 1) contact their representatives, 2) go in with Cards Against Humanity and purchase Congress’s browsing history, and 3) work hard to produce absolutely useless browsing and advertising data.
Yes, I’ll probably work on providing an automated part for #3 if nobody’s got it by then (probably just a URL that loads random websites in a minimized window – oh you like Cat Fancy and WWE Costuming?) so that everyone in the world participating will be presenting utter garbage for analytic purposes while doing real browsing via TOR, VPN, etc.
Yup, we can make our ISP browsing history utter garbage that will make those attempting to sell ISP logs the laughing stock of the advertising world.
But do realize people selling you a VPN are really really incentivised, and in this particular instance the main winners of deregulation are the VPN providers, referrers, and your ISP.