In the final days of the Obama administration, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to stop internet service providers (ISP) from selling your web browsing history to third parties.
But before the ruling would go into effect, the House recently voted to block the online privacy regulations. Now the resolution to keep allowing ISP’s to sell your web browsing history is awaiting President Trump’s signature.
It's the first step toward allowing internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to sell the browsing habits of their customers.
“It’s scary,” said Travis Root, a student at MSU. “I don't necessarily support it but it’s hard for me to freak out because it’s just sort of the world that we live in.”
Between laptops and even smart phones, there are many ways to surf the net today. The more surfing you do, the more tracking done by your internet service provider.
“It’s something that I don’t think about that often but then when I do I realize how creepy it is,” said MSU student Courtney Irwin.
Root is an advertising student at Michigan State University and understands why advertisers the data.
“Data is what makes it run and advertisers are always going to attempt to get data in any way they can so this is just another way,” said Root.
Jeff Dettloff from Providence Computer Services in Lansing says selling your browsing data is how Google got off the ground and made money.
But it's the internet service provider data that advertisers want.
“All traffic goes through them so they have a unique characteristic in the way that they look through this data and so it becomes more valuable,” said Dettloff. “It’s a whole history, not just specific history.”
If you’re a little freaked out, experts recommend you install an Ad-Blocker on your computer that runs in the background.
“The ad-blocker is designed to understand these different advertising tracking companies,” said Dettloff. “There are companies that do this for a living that lots of people contract with to get this type of information.”
Visiting Yahoo.com Wednesday afternoon, Dettloff says his ad-blocking software picked up 20 attempts of tracking.
After scrolling through the page for a few minutes, over 100 were discovered.
“If this is the future that we are choosing in legislation and business practice, I just hope that people remember that consumers are people,” said Root.
An ad-blocker will not stop your provider from tracking you online, it’ll interfere with the process.
Dettloff recommends using the Tor Browser for Windows or Mac.
Adblock Plus is an ad-in for browsers such as the Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Apple’s Safari that will help block ads, disable tracking, and block domains known to spread malware.
Freedome is a Virtual Private Network, available for purchase that will prevent your internet service provider from knowing anything about your browsing habits.