The House has now allowed ISPs to sell your browsing habits As this last remaining privacy barrier crumbles, the question I have had from a few friends and family members is; should I use a VPN; and if yes, which one?
The first part of that question; “should” you use a VPN? Well, I believe YES, for some things.
- Medical Conditions. If you are doing research regarding medical conditions for yourself or a family member, I would consider that private and information you don’t want bought and sold. Remember when Target knew a girl was pregnant before her own Family? You can avoid situations like that by using a combination of a private search Engine like DuckDuckGo and a VPN service. Furthermore, DuckDuckGo has an IOS / Android App that won’t save history and cookies.
2. Job Hunting. I would think job hunting would fall under the category of things I don’t want my ISP to know about; as we don’t know WHO will be buying your internet browsing history – and we don’t want that to be your current employer.
3. Financials. Although all Banking traffic in transit is encrypted with https these days; data about which banking institutions as well as frequency of logins may be marketable. Thats Nobody’s business.
4. Websites and data that could be misconstrued by future employers, lenders and Apartment leasing agents. ( Because that who is buying your data) This is obviously more generic and requires some thought. It is now necessary to think about what kind of story your browsing habits tell about you; from multiple angles. Use VPN when you go somewhere that is nobody’s business.
Now, we move to the second part, which VPN service should I use? My personal favorite is TunnelBear. It’s super easy to use; and negligible performance hits – Downloadable as an App for IOS or Android; client for MAC or Windows; or as a browser extension for Chrome. AES-256 Encryption and SUPER cheap. There is a FREE tier that you can use; that will give you 500 MB a month. That should be plenty as long as you are not Tunneling your Videos; or tunneling big file downloads.
When you launch Tunnel bear; and browse to any site on the internet, all your ISP will see if Traffic to Tunnel Bear’s VPN service. Sweet, yeah? Sell that, Comcast!
There are other VPN services similar to Tunnel bear out there; price and performance vary on each.
Also, let us not forget about Cookies! Although this new law sucks in its entirety; Stored Browser Cookies tell sites you visit more about where you’ve been than any other mechanism. Although most sites require you store cookies now-a-days, it is something to be aware of. DuckDuckGo ‘s Mobile App browsers have cookies off by default. If you truly want to stay private, you must: Not use Google, or Google Chrome to search. Not visit any site with a browser with cached cookies of your browsing history. ( e.g., clear your cookies often or DuckDuckGo Mobile ). Use a VPN service.
A few last notes; personally, I don’t think there is a need to tunnel Netflix, Hulu and other video sites – some VPNs will introduce performance issues on those services; and frankly, I don’t see the reason . . .yet. Social Media sites are also another big can of worms that I don’t really ant to open here; except to say they are ALREADY selling your info. What the ISPs would get through this new law is how frequent you visit Facebook, and others . . . so your call. Really, the list above is a good place to start your Privacy.
Disclaimer: I am not paid or employed by TunnelBear. I just like their service. What is offered above is my unpaid – unbiased opinion only.