As soon as Donald Trump took over as president of the United States, one of the new appointments that he went on to make was that of appointing Ajit Pai as the new head of the Federal Communications Commission. Before he assumed his role, Pai had been very well known for his views against net neutrality. It rightly followed that his first task as chairman of the FCC was to set in motion plans that were to bring Net Neutrality to an end in the United States.
Net Neutrality Stopped In Its Tracks
Before his appointment, the FCC was actually in the process of implementing regulations that were meant to protect the data and privacy of internet users. Pai’s announcement however will now initiate a process that will have the rules that would’ve made it difficult for ISPs to profit from customers’ information reversed. The FCC will now have the authority to void the regulations that were set in the previous agreement, officially referred to as the 2015 Title II order. Such regulations included prohibitions against content blocking, speed throttling, as well as regulations that made it unlawful for ISPs to sell records of their customers’ browsing history to third parties. Despite claims by major telecoms such as AT&T and Verizon that they do not intend to sell logs of their customers browsing history, as soon as the new regulations start being fully applied, there will be nothing stopping them from doing so.
The FCC’s Rollback of Regulations – What It All Means
Under the 2015 Title II order, it was a requirement for ISPs to seek their customer’s permission before selling out their data. The ISPs were also compelled to keep their customer’s data secure from any form of online threats such as from hackers, and they were also expected to notify customers of any form of security breaches that might put their privacy in jeopardy. Despite abiding by the regulations, ISPs were not as happy about them since they felt that the rules affected them negatively and didn’t do anything to foster healthy competition between them and other Internet companies. Case in point would be how major players such as Yahoo and Google were able to profit from user’s data through selling advertising. With the previous regulations having been recalled, they will now be able to sell your data without seeking permission from you as a user.
This new turn of events has brought about uproar from users who are very sensitive about their online privacy. They argue that despite the fact that other Internet companies such as Google and Facebook can sell user’s information to other advertisers, at least they don’t really see what else you’re upto whenever you’re not using their services or platforms. The new rules don’t sit well with them since ISPs will then be able to track whatever you’re up to whenever you’re online, and do whatever they want to with that kind of information.
Major companies in the advertising sector will now be able to establish a stronger foothold with brands that need to get their services or products known since they now have a strong reason to work closely with major telecoms and establish the most efficient methods of advertising. Although it seems like users now have no control over the extent of their privacy online, there is one form of a solution that may be able to secure their activities on the Internet.
VPNs and How They Can Protect Your Data
The new regulations concerning net neutrality have seen a sudden upsurge in the interest among users to seek alternative methods of safeguarding their privacy. One of those methods includes the use of VPNs. VPNs are now suddenly becoming more popular thanks to their ability to encrypt their user’s online traffic to an extent that even their ISPs can’t really pick up on their online activities. Add to that an antivirus to protect you against malware, and an ad-blocking service to deal with unwanted adverts, and you have a formidable defense against any hackers, servers or even ISPs that may want to use your browsing information for other means, good or bad.
If your sole reason for getting engaged with a VPN service is to work with a provider who guarantees your privacy online, then its important to choose the one that promises not to store your browsing history; one that doesn’t keep any logs. In your search, you might come across a few that state clearly that they do store connection logs and timestamps. Most users might not have that much of an issue with this since it’s not their actual history that’s being stored, however, if you’re looking for a provider that doesn’t keep a record of anything, there are still a few that have a policy that states clearly that they do not.
US Based VPNs
Following Edward Snowden’s big reveal of how the NSA is using the Internet to spy on user’s activity, people were shocked at the American government’s dismissal of its citizens’ rights to privacy and anonymity. In addition to that, the government, through the Stored Communications Act (SCA) is also able to legally request and ISP to retain a user’s data for a period of up to 180 days. The same act also allows anyone who is willing to hand over data that they think might help prevent deaths to the government in an effort to collaborate & contain such attempts.
As you can see, companies in the US have no major hindrances from sharing your data with the American government. This also includes those that provide VPN services. Inasmuch as they might claim to be unaffected by such regulations, such services will still have to abide by the laws of the land and work together with the government whenever they may be required to. The US is therefore one of the worst locations for companies that offer privacy and security solutions; VPN providers included.