7 On Your Side: How to protect your browsing history online

Thursday, March 30, 2017 07:16PM
7 On Your Side's Michael Finney is helping you protect your privacy online after Congress repealed internet privacy rules that has been keeping your browsing habits a secret.

SAN FRANCISCO - On Wednesday, 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney reported that Congress repealed internet privacy rules that has been keeping your internet browsing habits a secret.

A bill sitting on the president's desk right now would allow internet service providers to track you, and then sell that information.

So, what is a consumer to do? Well, it doesn't mean you have to go along.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has additional privacy help on its website and has been defending your rights for years.

The stakes are high with your internet service provider about to be given the green light to gather information currently off limits. "Google is not this powerful, Facebook is not this powerful. The only players on the market who see everything you do is your cable and telephone company," Electronic Frontier Foundation employee Ernesto Falcon said.

Falcon is the foundation's legislative counsel. He says that power is worth a lot of money and those pushing for the change have familiar names. "It is the same usual suspects; Comcast, it is Verizon, it is AT&T, it is all the major cable and telephone companies," he said.

They may get the change to gather your information, but the foundation's chief computer scientist, Peter Eckersley, says you don't have to go along. "If you are in the Bay Area, it is why we also recommend switching from an ISP that has lobbied to abolish your privacy rights in Congress, which all of the big ISP have done, to a small local ISP," Eckersley said.

Internet service providers like Sonic and Monkeybrains both offer consumer friendly privacy policies, but Monkeybrains is opposed to sharing.

If you want to stay with your current provider you might consider a virtual private network, also known as a VPN. "A VPN is a service that basically reroutes your traffic," Eckersley said.

Your browsing is now taking place in a cyber world on a different computer in a different city, perhaps even a different country. The down side is it will cost you a few bucks a month.

However, there is a free option called Tor: "Tor is like the private browsing mode on steroids, it really delivers the best protection we have available," Eckersley said.

Tor encrypts your traffic, then bounces it all over the world, which is good for security, but it slows down your browsing.

Now, here is one more option offered up by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Rather than change your surfing habits, change the political system. "What we should do is organize and demand congress change the law back," Falcon said.
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