How Apple and Google could save our data (but probably won’t)

A few days ago the House of Representatives joined the Senate in repealing the FCC’s privacy rules regarding Internet privacy. The rules, approved during the Obama administration, required Internet providers to receive consent from users before selling their personal web history to marketers and other data brokers. Although this protection of user data isn’t yet in place, many believe that its repeal will encourage Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to start selling user data to increase their profits.

After the House decision many people suggested that users should start using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) while browsing the Internet, since these services encrypt all communications and prevent your ISP from understanding your Internet behavior. VPNs are indeed effective but are costly and most people don’t have the technical capabilities to operate them. Therefore, it’s safe to say that basically no-one will start using a VPN because of the new rules.

So it seems that our data is lost. But there could be a solution!

If they chose, Apple and Google can embed a VPN service into their browsers (Safari & Chrome), both on mobile and on desktop. If a VPN becomes a simple service that anyone can buy with a click in the App Store or Google Play, millions of people could possibly start using VPNs and improve their privacy. This could even become an income source for the two companies, albeit not a major one. Of course, then Apple and Google would hold your Internet history. This isn’t too bad, since they can agree to keep your data secret unless you agree to sell it.

I doubt that either Apple or Google will actually go with this but if they did it would be pretty great.