Guest Editorial: The Feds Just Repealed Internet Privacy Rules. Here's How We Protect Ourselves.


So political solutions are great and all if we can get them implemented. Hopefully that happens in Seattle, but for a lot of Americans, it's not going to be viable. So how do you protect yourself from Comcast, Verizon et al. stealing your browsing habits?

1) Install HTTPS Everywhere. While Comcast will still be able to figure out the sites you visit (and thus can glean quite a bit about you from that), they won't be able to see the exact information being sent back and forth between your computer and the server. It is therefore only a partial solution.

This is incredibly easy, not at all disruptive, and everyone should do it now.

2) Consider using a VPN or Tor. With either, Comcast only knows that you're using it. They can't track your browsing habits at all. The downside with VPNs? They generally charge a fee to use. Also, the VPN service itself could be tracking and selling your browsing habits. Tor offers even better privacy, but the cost is speed; Tor is slow. Also, your browsing experience may sometimes seem a little wonky because you don't know what country you'll appear to be browsing from so you end up breaking some localization. The Tor Browser is available here.

With these options there are tradeoffs, making them not for everyone.

Be aware that you may have other services running (e.g. a dedicated email client or gaming platforms like Steam) that won't necessarily be hidden.

3) Probably the best organization you can donate to is the EFF. Not only do they do lobbying and advocacy, they also do court challenges and consumer education. They create open-source tools that make protecting your privacy much easier. In short, they cover all the bases. They're a non-profit that uses its contributions wisely.

Further information on securing yourself here.
Information of interest especially for activists and protestors here.
I wonder how much it will cost to buy one person's search history for a year.

I mean, we know the names of the people that voted for this bill, and we also know where they live.

Nothing would eliminate this bill faster than a crowd-funded purchase of the search histories of several yes-voting congressional members, with the threat that they will be released for anyone who wishes to download them.

Not even really joking. I would totally donate for get to see the search histories of Congress' biggest bastards. If they don't care about our privacy online, why should they have any?
@2 You may be interested in this.

Do note that the browsing history of these politicians is not available yet (and may never be; it's within an ISP's discretion to sell what they want to and they know who butters their bread)
@3: Yeah, I should have figured I was not the first one to have that idea. One hopes that the major ISPs would at the very least restrain themselves to only selling the data to certain businesses and not individuals, but it is not like they have ever cared about their customers before.
Excellent column; going by this, Andres Salomon has my vote.
Is there a proper exemption in the Public Records Act that would provide necessary privacy?
The creator of Cards against Humanity has said he will pay to get the viewing habits of Congress and print them.