Our very own ISP’s have been on our internet tails since forever. As soon as they assign us an IP address, the tracking begins. They are watching whatever we are doing online. Our data is then used to either sell out to data vendors or third party advertisement sources. The real horror begins when we visit websites that are not protected with HTTPS. In such cases, the ISP is able to pretty much track everything you do on those websites. But can we stop them from tracking us? That is exactly what we are discussing in this article.
What can ISPs track?
As soon as you are assigned an IP address by your ISP, your privacy is at stake. Your ISP will start tracking your online activities the moment you are connected to the internet. The websites you visit, how much you stay on those websites and what fingerprints you leave online, everything is monitored and recorded on their servers. Especially, if you are visiting a website that is not HTTPS, your ISP is able to:
- Track your unencrypted email exchange
- Track the files that you download
- Track your social media data
- Track your geo-location
Why does ISPs track you?
These are the most common reasons as to why your ISP may be tracking you:
Bound by law:
In many countries, the Internet Service providers are bound by law (Government, security agencies) to monitor the internet users’ activities and provide the data to the security agencies so they may reckon if anyone is doing something against the law. However, while this may seem a valid reason due to the fight against terrorism, ISPs may try to misuse this reason and mass surveil upon millions of users.
The information that ISPs collect is really valuable to advertisers around the world. They can use this information to bombard you with psychologically triggered advertisements. The advertisers pay a good sum to the ISPs in exchange for this information.
To throttle your bandwidth;
In many countries (especially Germany) the ISPs are known to throttle the bandwidth on their internet users. What this means is that if the ISP knows (by tracking your activities) that you stream high quality content or download heavy files, they will reduce the internet speed. You won’t be able to watch hd content or download high quality files even though you would be paying for the internet. On the other hand, some ISPs do this to irritate their internet users into buying or upgrading to a more expensive internet package.
If your ISP tracks you and finds you torrenting, they will simply provide the data to copyright agencies, who, in return, will impose heavy fines upon you.
How do you prevent ISP tracking?
By using a VPN:
It’s really simple. When you use a VPN, a wall is created between you and the ISP. All the data (including your online activities) is encrypted by the VPN and relayed through the VPN server before reaching the internet. This way, your ISP isn’t able to track your activities and thus you are protected against their malicious acts.
By using Tor browser:
While some may think that Tor browser is some classified browser which is only accessible by the MI6 and the hackers, the truth can’t be further from it. Tor browser is available for everyone and is really easy to use. Once you start using Tor, it will be like creating three walls between you and the ISP. Your data is encrypted into three layers and then transferred to three server chosen randomly worldwide before it reaches the internet.