SecurityWatchThe new rules will allow ISPs (your Comcasts, Charters, and AT&Ts) to “harvest” their customers’ online data and sell it to third-party marketers. Monetized online behavior isn’t new, of course. If you were to Google “cold remedies,” for example, you shouldn’t be surprised to later encounter web ads for decongestants and tissues. What magical marketing fairies enabled this seamless synergy, you ask? Big Data!

Just about all your online data is automatically scraped, organized, and sold to advertisers so they can micro-tailor their sales pitches. This very profitable business model is how Google and Facebook have amassed astounding fortunes despite the fact that they give their products away for free.

Your data isn’t necessarily used maliciously (as long as you don’t consider capitalism to be inherently malicious), but it’s unsettling to know your private data is just out there and up for sale in some virtual marketplace. And now your ISP can get in the Big Data game as well.

New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the move reverses “privacy regulations designed to benefit one group of favored companies over another group of disfavored companies.” The subtext of the chairman’s comment being that he believes the previous administration crafted rules to support Democratic-friendly Silicon Valley companies like Facebook and Google, while blocking out less-favored corporations like home cable/internet providers (blech). However, that comparison doesn’t exactly pan out.

While it is true that companies like Google and Facebook make money off your behavior, you are not forced to use those services. If you suddenly decided to stop using Facebook, you might miss out on cute pet pics and political rants from your friends and family, but you could still live a thoroughly modern existence. You could even choose to avoid the Google-o-sphere entirely by using Bing or DuckDuckGo for your web searches, Dropbox instead of Google Drive, or iOS instead of the Google-maintained Android.

You don’t have this choice when it comes to your ISP—your home’s gateway to the entirety of the internet. While there are alternatives to Google and Facebook, most Americans have limited home ISP alternatives. Some areas have only one provider. So this bill gives a green light to unescapable corporate data mining. You and your data are captives—unless you take proactive action to protect it.

“ISPs are in a position to see a lot of what you do online. They kind of have to be, since they have to carry all of your traffic,” explains Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) senior staff technologist Jeremy Gillula. “Unfortunately, this means that preventing ISP tracking online is a lot harder than preventing other third-party tracking—you can’t just install [EFF-made privacy-minded browser add on] Privacy Badger or browse in incognito or private mode.”

Just in case you have no idea what a VPN is…, don’t worry. The Image below will show not only what it is, but will show you how VPN’s work.

VPN to the Rescue?

One of the best ways to secure your data is to use a virtual private network (VPN), which provides greater control of how you’re identified online. Simply put, a VPN creates a virtual encrypted “tunnel” between you and a remote server operated by a VPN service. All external internet traffic is routed through this tunnel, so your ISP can’t see your data. If the site you’re heading to uses HTTPS, your data stays encrypted, too. Best of all, your computer appears to have the IP address of the VPN server, masking your identity.

Even before Congress tackled this issue, VPNs were handy tools to protect yourself from criminals tapping into public Wi-Fi networks, or from firewalls segregating users based on geographic location (so, you could, say, watch a movie that was only licensed for streaming in another country; sorry, Netflix is now cracking down on this process).

How VPN Router Connections Work

We should note that there are multiple ways your behavior can be tracked online—even with a VPN, things like cookies allow web services (Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc.) to track your internetting even after you’ve left their sites (here’s a handy guide to pruning cookies on your browser.)

Some users might find that using a VPN slightly slows down their connection speeds, but if you have a fast connection and a good device, you probably won’t notice a difference. We test a lot of VPN services in our labs and rounded up some of the best ones. The top VPN services will have numerous servers to help keep traffic flowing freely, as well as the ability to choose a geographically close VPN server, which will help to further cut down on latency. While there are some high-quality free VPNs out there (see our list of top free VPNs), some may choose a subscription pay VPN service more for versatility and speed.

If speed is a top priority, we rounded up the Fastest VPNs from our testing labs. For mobile users, we also have a guide to the Best VPNs for Android. If you’re on iOS, NordVPN is our current Editors’ Choice for iPhones.

Not only should you be using a VPN on your computer, but you should also be using one on your smart phone as well, watch the video below.

PC-mag actually put together a great article on VPN’s. After reading this article you should really implement this needed step in your protection against hackers, snoops, crooks, and especially the government from accessing your data. It’s no one’s business!

So, until next time… we”ll do our very best at keeping you informed of the many opportunities in marketing on the internet, while providing you information that is truthful, concise, and with a dash of integrity. Aloha…