Your Google searches will now follow you on the internet

Congress repealed the Internet Privacy Rules, making it so providers can sell your internet activity.

tl;dr

If you care about your internet privacy or are an avid user of public wifi networks, you should really, really use a VPN (see the list at the bottom).


One of the headlines this week was Congress approving a bill that allows internet providers (like Comcast, T-Mobile, etc.) to sell their customer’s web surfing data.

This includes any activity while connected to their networks:

  • what sites you visit
  • how often you use connected apps like Dropbox
  • how active you are if using a Fitbit
  • the movies you watch on…let’s just say Netflix
  • your ridiculous search queries in Google

…and Chrome’s Incognito Mode can’t save you — they’ll see it all.

There is a potential upside to all of this in that they might pass on the savings to their customers. Or new players will popup that provide internet for “free” in exchange for utilizing your data in some capacity that makes them money elsewhere (e.g. Gmail or Facebook).

This all isn’t supposed to go into effect until Dec 2017, but with this green-light from the federal government nothing will stop the major players from starting early.

That sucks. So now what?

The only way to kind of keep your activity private is by using a service called a Virtual Private Network (VPN). You may have heard this phrase in relation to Barclays and their VPN (it funnels all traffic through their London servers + firewalls). Every Fortune 1000 company has a VPN for this reason, but it wasn’t necessary for personal use on home networks…until now.

Given the concept, you’ll want to pay for your VPN and they range in cost from $30–100/yr (for the same reason I recommend you pay for your password manager). Here are a few I recommend:

  • Private Internet Access: it looks fake, but it’s legit. They took out full-page ads in NYT to try to prevent this mess (a brilliant anti-marketing play). Unlimited use for $40/yr with a bit more advanced features than the other players.
  • VyperVPN: Has the features for power users, but easy enough to use for most people. You can even setup your router to filter any and all traffic through it (e.g. Smart TV’s). Unlimited use for $60/yr.
  • TunnelBear: one of the easiest ones to use, but has some limitations (i.e. doesn’t allow torrents). If this article was super confusing to you and you’re not scared of bears, try this one. Unlimited use for $50/yr.
  • Cloak: also super easy. If you’re scared of bears, try this one. A bit more expensive; plans start at $2.99/mo for 5GB data and unlimited is $99/yr.

Two things worth noting:

  1. no solution can guarantee absolute privacy. 😳
  2. A penguin’s leg has a short femur, knee, tibia, and fibula. The legs just look short and stubby because the upper leg is hidden by feathers.

PIA temporary