In the United States, internet service providers (ISPs) may now monitor and sell records of your online activity, including the websites you visit, messages you send, emails you send, and searches you do. Senate Joint Resolution 34 (S.J. Res 34) revoked an Obama-era Federal Communications Commission privacy regulation that prohibited firms such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable from selling consumers’ browser data without their consent. This essay will discuss how this impacts internet users and how you may use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to prevent your ISP from monitoring your online activities.
Nobody knows how far ISPs will go to sell your information. But there is currently very little law prohibiting them from selling personally identifiable information (PII) and sensitive information ranging from sexual orientation to medical data.
Only two methods are guaranteed to keep your ISP from monitoring your online activity: a VPN or Tor. We choose VPNs since they are speedier and do not attract the attention of ISPs or government agencies. A VPN encrypts all internet traffic on a device and routes it via an intermediate server in the user’s chosen location. While connected to the VPN, your ISP will be unable to see which websites you visit, your search history, which applications you use, or the contents of any messages or emails you send or receive over the internet. Additionally, the ISP is not permitted to insert advertisements or other internet content into your browser.
How to find a VPN that will protect you from ISP tracking
With so many VPN companies on the market, how can you know which one gives the best service?
- Subscribe to the VPN mentioned in this post; NordVPN is our top recommendation.
- Install the VPN app on your smartphone.
- Launch the application and choose a server location.
- Simply click the Connect button.
- Allow a few moments for the connection to be fully established.
That concludes our discussion! Your ISP can no longer monitor your internet activity. As with all of our advice, utilize a VPN with strong leak protection.
The best VPN for evading ISP surveillance
NordVPN, situated in Panama, provides an outstanding value–up to multiple simultaneous connections with a regular subscription. However, the true value is in the company’s stringent zero-logging policy and its robust encryption suite, which includes 256-bit OpenVPN encryption and 2,048-bit Diffie Hellman keys.
The NordVPN app has a process-specific kill switch, which enables you to select which apps are prevented from delivering unencrypted web traffic over your ISP network in the event of a VPN connection failure. A large selection of servers are accessible, including several that are targeted for further secrecy, such as Tor over VPN and Double VPN.
Linux, Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android applications are available. If you go overseas, NordVPN can also unblock geo-restricted content like Netflix and Hulu.
Methodology for ISP VPN testing
We realize how difficult it may be to choose a VPN. There are many types of VPN services available, and not all of them provide the degree of privacy and security that you expect from your ISP.
At PrivacyExplore, we use rigorous VPN testing techniques to guarantee that we only suggest a VPN provider that provides an adequate degree of dependability and the necessary privacy features. Additionally, we check for IP and DNS leaks to guarantee that the VPN is performing as stated regarding concealing your internet browsing patterns from your ISP.
The following are some of the critical qualities we looked for while determining the best VPN to avoid ISP tracking:
- A no logs policy: A no-logs policy is critical for a VPN to provide you with online privacy today and in the future. Our suggestions have strong privacy rules that guarantee that no identifying records will be retained once a session has ended. This implies that the VPN provider has nothing of value that may be intercepted later under a government warrant.
- Robust encryption: A VPN tunnel is only as safe as the encryption used to secure the tunnel between your device and the VPN server. We’ve chosen a provider in this article that uses secure VPN protocols such as OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard. These protocols make use of powerful cryptographic primitives, including AES encryption for military grade.
- Internet kill-switch: If your VPN connection fails, your internet traffic becomes exposed to your ISP. As a result, the ISP will be able to begin tracking your online activities and sharing that information with the government to follow mandatory data retention requirements or government demands. Kill-switch guards against this danger by disconnecting your internet connection if your VPN connection fails.
- Advanced security features: For a VPN to really be value for money, it must have a robust feature set that includes a plethora of helpful privacy and security options. We’ve highlighted a service in this post that includes DNS leak protection, obfuscated servers, multiple hop connections, split-tunneling, and a SOCKS5 proxy, among other sophisticated features. Each VPN offers a unique collection of features, so be sure to read each overview to find the best fit for your requirements.
- Apps for all platforms: To be really helpful, a VPN should have software for any device you possess. Our suggestions include software and configuration tutorials for utilizing the VPN with tablets, smartphones, Windows and Mac computers, and other specialized devices such as firesticks, smart TVs, consoles, and VPN-compatible routers.
- Value for money: A VPN does not have to be prohibitively expensive to give you access to ISP privacy. There are several costly VPNs available, and some of them do not provide the degree of anonymity that our suggestions provide. We’ve listed VNs that are reasonably priced for what you receive in this post to guarantee you’re not overpaying.
VPNs for ISP tracking FAQs
Why are anti-tracking regulations necessary?
If a VPN tracks your behavior, it is no different than an ISP. It could as easily harvest your online traffic for data and sell it without limitation to other parties.
This is why we highly recommend using a VPN that does not log. We’re mostly interested in traffic logs, which include the content of online sites you visit and any unencrypted emails or communications.
The metadata recording is also an issue, since it records when you joined the VPN, how long you were connected, and how much data you consumed. What’s more concerning is whether the metadata records include the user’s actual IP address or the IP address of the server to which they connect, implying that users’ behavior may be tracked back to them.
Is my ISP able to observe my VPN connection?
When you use a VPN, your ISP is unable to read the contents of your internet traffic or determine where it is going to or from. This means that your ISP cannot monitor the websites you visit or the activities you engage in while connected. It is unaware that encrypted data is being sent to the server.
It is conceivable that your ISP will discover that the server in question is connected to a VPN. On the other hand, VPNs are completely lawful in the United States, and there is no American ISP that we are aware of that blocks or throttles traffic to VPN servers.
Is incognito used to conceal activities from the ISP?
No. Incognito mode and other private browsing modes integrated into web browsers do not shield you from ISP surveillance. They do nothing more than prevent websites from identifying you through cookies and prevent your browser from remembering your behavior. While you are browsing incognito, websites may still identify your device based on its IP address, and your ISP can still monitor your online behavior.
Can I get my internet service provider’s history?
In the United States of America, internet service providers are not forbidden from collecting or exchanging data and information about your online activities, including your browsing history. Your internet service provider may or may not keep track of the websites you visit and other online actions. Most websites you visit require your ISP to issue a DNS request, which it may then track and retain permanently.
Depending on your state of residence and the ISP’s internal rules, you may have a right to know what information your ISP possesses about you. In California, for example, you may request that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) provide you with any personal data it maintains about you.
Is my Internet Service Provider (ISP) aware of my Google searches?
Google employs HTTPS as the transport protocol for all of its online services, which means that your search requests are secured using SSL. Your ISP is aware of your visit to Google, but not of any individual search queries. However, Google often includes links in search results to websites that do not use HTTPS, which means that your ISP may see the contents of the site as they are downloaded to your device.
How can I determine whether or not my ISP is following me?
Your ISP almost certainly tracks you to some level, but the amount to which they do so is determined by the ISPs themselves and the areas in which they operate. An excellent place to begin is by reviewing your ISP’s privacy and terms of service policies. You may be able to get a copy of the data that your ISP maintains on you, but there is no way to determine whether your ISP is following you.
In the United States of America, ISPs are not forbidden from collecting information about your internet usage or from sharing that information with other parties. It is prudent to presume they are and take appropriate safeguards.
What information do ISPs collect?
An ISP may monitor any data that is not encrypted as it passes via your internet connection. This includes, but is not limited to, your browser history, search queries, purchases, emails, downloads, location, and streaming.
Take note that a large portion of the web is now secured by default using HTTPS (SSL). However, even with encryption, your ISP may still monitor which websites you visit and when.
What may internet service providers do with my data?
ISPs may use your data for internal reasons such as diagnosis, marketing, and analytics, or they may sell or share it with other parties. Typically, these third parties are advertising networks, but they might also be intelligence organizations, private detectives, or police enforcement.
Is a proxy server capable of concealing my IP address from my ISP?
No. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will assign you an IP address. As a result, your ISP will always have access to your IP address and may disclose it upon request to government authorities (or any other interested party).
As a result, it is critical to choose a reputable VPN service that does not store usage records with your IP address. For privacy reasons, VPNs that maintain user records (in addition to your IP address) are ineffective since they enable your online activities to be traced directly back to you.
Unlike a VPN, a proxy can only conceal your IP address from the websites you visit by creating the illusion of being in another place. It is important to realize, however, that a proxy does not provide the same degree of secrecy as an encrypted VPN connection. As a result, it is critical to use a VPN rather than a proxy to avoid ISP tracking.
While proxies can mask your location and prevent online services from identifying your IP address (location), they cannot perform DNS queries on your behalf to disguise the destination of your traffic (your online browsing habits) from your ISP.
Why is my ISP interested in tracking me?
ISPs monitor their subscribers’ internet activity for a variety of purposes, including to generate cash. The activities of individuals on the Internet have the potential to disclose a great deal about their lifestyle, work, income, goals, health, hobbies, religious views, and political affiliations, among other things.
This kind of data enables high-level surveillance capitalism, in which businesses exploit your data for marketing reasons or combine it with other data to get frighteningly exact secondary judgments about you. ISPs understand the value of personal information that may be collected via automated monitoring of online surfing behavior. This is why they keep data and may sell it to other parties if authorized by law (in the US, they may do so without user consent).
Additionally, ISPs in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, and Brazil, are compelled by law to maintain user surfing history. Mandatory data retention rules require ISPs to retain your browser history for up to two years before submitting such information (including communications metadata) to authorities upon request. The government may simply snoop on anybody who does not use a VPN in nations that require data retention. This is a significant breach of your privacy.
How can I determine whether or not my ISP is following me?
Unless you are using a VPN, it is prudent to assume that your ISP is following you. Your ISP must link you to the websites you visit to provide you with the internet connection you pay for. By automatically routing your traffic, your ISP can trace every page you visit.
Depending on where you reside, your ISP may be compelled to retain records of these visits for up to two years, along with your information. Thus, one approach to determining if your ISP is following you is to examine the status of your state’s data retention rules. In the United Kingdom, for example, ISPs are required to retain data on all internet activity for twelve months. Numerous government authorities may then access this data.
If you reside in the United States, the situation is considerably worse. Not only are ISPs legally authorized to monitor everything you do online—but also to sell that data to any third party willing to pay.
This encourages ISPs to keep as much data on you as possible and to find methods to monetize it, such as by selling it to marketing businesses and data brokers. This also implies that your surfing data is available for warrant-based access if government snoops at the NSA decide they want it.