Due to recent legislation, it may soon be possible for companies and individuals to purchase and access your complete browser history.  Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself immediately….

The problem

On March 28th, 2017 S.J. Res 34 passed specifically disapproving the FCC’s ‘Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services.  According the the Electronic Frontier Foundation this rule was designed to protect against the following actions by your ISP…

1. Selling your specific browser history and location to marketers.  Here are few disturbing possibilities…

  • the rise of ‘information bureaus’ to allow potential employers, insurers, landlords, etc. to research what type of person you are based on your browsing
  • unscrupulous parties purchasing information to embarrass or extort (adult site history, excessive gaming, shopping purchases, etc.)
  • invasive and hypertargeted real-world solicitations
    • having marriage problems? be careful what sites your browse or you and your spouse may start receiving postal solicitations from local divorce lawyers
    • example 2
    • example 3

2. Hijacking your searches.    ISPs are in the unique position to hijack searches mid-stream and re-direct users to the highest bidder.    Right now, typing a search term  into your browser URL bar will show you Google results so that you can pick the most relevant site.   If hijacked, you’ll be taken directly to the one site that is paying the most.

3. Intercepting your traffic and inserting ads.  ISPs can analyze every packet of information to build a profile on you and create intrusive ‘precog’ ads designed to know your every interest and desire.

4. Preinstalling software on your phone to track your searches.   Why install software on your phone when they can already track all your visits?  To try to detect which encrypted sites you accessing to further build their marketing databases. This has already been a problem in the past with three well known mobile phone networks – just google ‘CarrierIQ privacy concerns’

5. Installing ‘zombie cookies’ into all your traffic so that you can be identified and traced no matter where on the internet you go.  These cookies would not be under your control unlike standard ones which can be turned off or cleared using your browser – hence the fitting name of zombie cookies.