JOKE’S ON YOU
You recently learnt about the Wikileaks release on the CIA and how they have the ability to spy on you at any given moment. Sure, the likelihood of a top governmental agency checking out how often you watch The Office is quite low. That is, unless you’re watching a show while also Googling “how to build a bomb” (but still… low chances).
If there’s one thing we can universally agree on (hopefully) is our right to privacy. Unless the world’s safety is at stake, we want our data to be for our eyes only. Companies see that, and they react. Take Apple as an example: they even went as far as protecting our right to privacy against the FBI! For those who don’t remember, when the San Bernardino attacks took place, an iPhone was recovered (belonging to the shooter). The FBI took Apple to the court when the latter declined to unlock the shooter’s phone. “We objected to the FBI’s demand that Apple build a backdoor into the iPhone because we believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent“. The controversy still remains; did Apple do wrong by “aiding” a terrorist? Or did they do the smarter thing by protecting our civil rights?
Well, in 2016 (feels like a long time ago, doesn’t it?) the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) created a new set of privacy rules that required broadband providers to ask for YOUR permission before collecting data about your browsing habits, application usage, location, even financial information! Basically, if you were doing something online and some higher up wanted their hands on it, they’d have to go through you first.
Seems fair, doesn’t it? Your literal location, financial information, family information, social security numbers, are all personal to you and only you.
Fast forward to 2017… Where we have a President who’s taking a giant step back.
President Donald Trump has signed a bill that basically cancels out FCC’s new rule. Your information can now be sold for various reasons, through your ISP. For those unsure, your ISP is your Internet Service Provider. If you’re interested in knowing who yours is, check out this nifty link.
The big boys (AT&T, Comcast, Verizon) have stepped up to “fight the power”. Now, this information of yours isn’t exactly being used by the government, what do they care what you are up to? This information is for the millions of advertisers who create custom advertisements based on your information. Haven’t you ever wondered how when you google “Hershey’s chocolate syrup”, suddenly Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all popular social media are delivering ads EXCLUSIVELY about Hershey’s chocolate syrup? Don’t know about you, but we find that really shady.
Not only are these rules out of play, but FCC is prohibited from writing similar rules in the future.
“What can I do to protect myself?“
If you’re not asking yourself that, then you either support this (which is alright because you’re entitled to your opinion), or you don’t understand the implications derived from this.
There’s honestly nothing you can do which will guarantee your information be protected online. The Internet is a world of its own. There are only so many memes you can share before people start asking where so much creativity is coming from.
1. Secure websites
- Before you go around submitting your personal information (name, address, credit card information) make sure the website is secure. Check out our website for instance. Right before the URL, it says secure and it has “https” before our URL.
2. Private browsers
- Tor is a great example of this. They cover your actual online address through many servers and IP’s; you’re (almost) completely off the grid.
3. Be smart
- That’s all there is to it. You have rights, no matter where you are from. Use Google, understand how VPN’s work, proxy servers; everything is at YOUR disposal.
It might seem like you are defenseless, but remember that knowledge is power. We aren’t trying to go on a political rant about how we must fight for what’s ours and sign petitions against Internet advertisement agencies. But the first step to do in any situation, is to know. Ignorance isn’t always a bliss. Our job here is to let you know what is happening in the world, it’s up to you how you deal with it.