Dottie Atwater

US ISPs can spy on customers?

6 posts in this topic

I use a VPN (Private Internet Access) and usually use a US location. This morning I sent a question to PIA and then received the following. Does anyone heard about this "recent US legislation?" What a bunch of crap! More intrusion into private lives.

"Currently we are experiencing higher than average helpdesk tickets due to recent US legislation changes that let your internet service provider spy on you. Your ticket will be dealt with however you may face a slightly longer than normal response time."lightly longer t normal response time.

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Posted (edited)

Dottie,

There is a very detailed explanation of this here:

http://www.theverge.com/2017/3/31/15138526/isp-privacy-bill-vote-trump-marsha-blackburn-internet-browsing-history

While using a VPN may give you limited protection on who can see your data, at some point your information travels in the clear.   Instead of travelling in the clear from the ISP point, it is encrypted until it gets to the other end of the VPN and then once again travels in the clear on its way to the final destination.   Basically, that means that your VPN provider can do exactly the same thing as your ISP - you are just changing the point your data is in the clear.

Also, there is additional information that is always available in order for you to connect to your ISP.   For instance, your account, your IP address, the time and length of your data connection (were you online at 3am or not).   All of this information is valuable for marketing purposes.   ISP's as well as VPN providers can collect and sell this information.   The fight and rule change is about whether or not this is considered to be permitted.   Yet as you dig deeper into it, even that statement is some what foggy as the governing body only interprets what is written and does no enforcement.

My personal take on it is this...   The collection of your data and surfing habits has already has been done for a very long time.  This is not just a US thing as it occurs in most every country.   To think that there is ANY privacy online is to not understand how your information is transmitted.   For those of us old enough to remember it - think of the Internet as a giant party line in beginning days of telephone service.   Everyone can pretty well see and hear everything.   Some information can be encrypted and hidden but the very fact you are using the Internet, when and how long, is in itself valuable information.   There is little to nothing you can do about it.

Edited by Twin Wolf Technology Group
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Dottie and Twin Wolf,

Thanks mucho for this topic and the reply. As a [strong] believer in and proponent for privacy, this topic surfaces an interesting (read devious and pernicious) Internet capability called super cookies. Super cookies is bad stuff for those who believe in privacy. 

I recommend that those who have desire for privacy do a Google search on 'super cookies' or 'flash cookies' or 'zombie cookies', etc. You will find many articles talking about them. Randomly picking just one of them (https://www.fightidentitytheft.com/blog/new-breed-super-cookie-defies-removal-almost) will show you a couple of things that you can do to better protect yourself. But even then you are not fully protected.

Like Dottie, I routinely use a VPN; my VPN automatically starts when I turn on my computer. However, a VPN won't help against super cookies. One disappointing fact is that some businesses block users from attempting to log into their website while using VPN protections. Some banks, for instance, block VPN access under the misplaced logic that only hackers use VPNs and so they "protect" their bank customers accounts from those evil people. Nothing could further from the truth.

This next statement is a gross over generalization, but I'll say it anyway. There is zero privacy in today's digital world. And once something is on the Internet it is there forever.

Not trying to beat this to death, but most of the general public believe that data security and data privacy are the same thing. They are closely related but are not the same concept. And at times, security actually can work against privacy. O.o  Do another Google search but on 'difference between security and privacy'.

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Wow, thanks for the post and the link, Bud. Macromedia/Flash do NOT make it easy to find their settings page. It will take some study to learn what settings to use to "better" protect privacy, albeit far from perfect.

I use Private Internet Access (PIA). For a long time, I could not log in to my Schwab account while connected with PIA. After PIA denying that they were the problem, they've apparently fixed this issue. Now it's Chase. I found the "fix" for either/both is to disconnect PIA and connect with the free Hotspot Shield.

Recently Flash player did an automatic update. After that, when I watched a youtube video, a small duplicate of the video would appear in the lower right of my screen. Very annoying. (That did not occur in Firefox.) When I decided Flash was the issue, I disabled it in my Chrome browser settings. Problem solved. Now, after reading the link you provided, I feel even better after disabling Flash.

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https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/12/us/politics/nsa-gets-more-latitude-to-share-intercepted-communications.html?_r=0

WASHINGTON — In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections. (my emphasis)

The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

Most of the protections afforded by the constitution were bypassed during the Cheney administration. Obama continued on the same path.

jim

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"Cheney administration." You got that right!

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