I'm Andrew. I write about the past and future of tech, music, media, culture, art, and activism. This is my blog.

Your Congresscritters sold you out

Posted: March 30, 2017

Earlier this week, congress voted to remove the ability of the FCC to prevent your Internet Service Provider from spying on you, and selling your data. Your ISP sees every website you connect to, and all unencrypted web traffic. Now they can sell that data to whoever they want. This is some bullshit, and now we have to band together to minimize the information leak. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself:


  1. HTTPS Everywhere - Your ISP will still be able to see what websites you vist, but they won’t be able to see what you do there if you use HTTPS. This encrypts the connection between you and the website you’re viewing, and this encryption is effective. The HTTPS Everywhere extension turns on HTTPS everywhere that it is available. It’s not a magic bullet, but it’s a pretty great first line of defense
  2. Use a VPN - VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. In simple terms, a VPN sits between you and your ISP, it snatches up all your traffic before your ISP can see it, encrypts it, bundles it up with a bunch of other traffic, and then spits it out on to the internet from somewhere else. A good VPN won’t log what websites you visit, and will prevent your ISP from seeing any of your traffic. (They can’t sell data they don’t have.) I use Private Internet Access, which costs $7/month but there are about a billion providers. If you can afford it, this is the easiest and most effective way to stay safe.
  3. Monitor your software - Android Phones on Verizon come with mandated spyware, Alexa and Google Now record everything you say and send some of it back to a central server to be interpreted, Facebook harvests all manner of information from you. If you don’t want your private data spread all over the world, protect it. Root your android devices, don’t use Amazon Echo, use something like Privacy Badger to keep advertizers from spying on you.
  4. Call your congresspeople, complain - Tell your congresscritters that you’re mad as hell, and you’re not going to take it anymore. Demand that they represent your interests. Tell them you’re unhappy about the new FCC rules, and you expect them to reverse the desicion. Demand the repeal of the DMCA

Honestly, though, this is just the tip of the information security iceburg. Did you know that police don’t need a warrent to read any emails in your gmail account that are older than 6 months? Did you know that it’s illegal to perform security research on software that uses DRM, and that Google and Netflix are trying to shoehorn DRM in to, well, everything?

Good information security doesn’t have to be hard. The Surveilance Self-defence starter kit from the EFF is a great place to educate yourself on staying safe online.

The most important point is to pay attention, and stay angry.

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