An internet service provider is a very important player in your online ecosystem. They, therefore, hold a lot of power when it comes to your online privacy and anonymity. This is because ISPs are able to monitor everything we do online using our IP addresses; they are then able to sell this personal data for marketing purposes or other uses.
However, they sell your data indirectly once a marketing company approaches them for a marketing campaign towards a certain demographic; they are able to channel specific advertisements to specific people depending on the data they have. Your internet service provider is also obliged to provide all the information they have on you to a government agency if the need arises. This begs the question: how secure is your online data?
The type of information they store
Different ISPs have different policies on what data they store on internet users. Despite this fact, they are still able to see your personal data particularly if you do not encrypt your internet traffic. A recent study indicated that 86 percent of shopping and health websites do not use HTTPS, a more secure protocol for sending data over the internet.
The type of information they store also depends on how much of your personal information you willingly put online especially on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter etc. Furthermore, from your IP address they will be able to store the URLs you visit, your previous browsing history, how much time you spend on certain pages and the pages you visit frequently. In extreme cases, ISPs are able to store information about your location, phone number, email, medical data as well as your private social media information.
One of the measures that internet users can apply to reduce the amount of data that their ISPs have on them is using a Virtual Private Network. Top rated VPN services are your sure bet to a more private browsing life and secure online data. This method works by ensuring that you have a safe and secure gateway to the internet through the VPN servers located all over the world. Besides, offshore Virtual Private Networks such as NordVPN do not store any requests you make to web servers across the internet.
How it affects your personal privacy
In the long run, your personal privacy is compromised at the expense of your ISP making profit which is not right. Additionally, government agencies are able to monitor your every move based on the online data from your ISP. Suppose you visit an anonymous alcoholic rehabilitation website or an abortion advice service, law enforcers would be able to make assumptions of what may be going on in your personal life. This makes it even more dangerous if your government is an oppressive regime. These kinds of governments can use the online data of its citizens to single out on individuals who they view as threats to the regime. There have been numerous reports of dictatorship governments from all around the globe monitoring certain human rights activists who become vocal about atrocities of those regimes.
All your personal private data is out there including where you bank, shop, where you or your wife went to school among other information which you would consider private. If a malicious person wants to target you in one way or another, they would leverage on this kind of information to either manipulate you through blackmail or scrutinize you silently to counter any move that you may have against them.
How to stop ISP from tracking you
A Virtual Private Network allows you to encrypt your online activity making it difficult to track. This extra layer of encryption not only allows you to anonymously browse the internet but it also ensures your security, more so in cases where you share sensitive data such as your password and credit card information across a network.
Another way to this is to ensure that all websites you visit use an encryption standard. This can be done by making sure that all websites that require sensitive data from you use HTTPS which is a secure version of Hypertext Transfer Protocol. HTTPS uses Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption to secure data that is sent over the internet. SSL is one of the protocols that a Virtual Private Network uses for encryption.
While it may be difficult to remain completely invisible over the internet, there are certain things that you can do to make it harder for your ISP to keep a record of your online data. Some of these methods have been mentioned above. Furthermore, it is important to know that your online privacy should be a top priority for you because every human being is entitled to personal privacy and anyone who infringes on this is a human rights violator.
Despite this fact, you also have to be responsible. Fraudulent and illegal activities online will definitely land you in trouble with the authorities. In light of that, remember that your online privacy starts with you being responsible enough to take precautionary measures such as having a VPN to deter your ISP.