Lion of the Blogosphere

ISP privacy

The Republican-controlled Congress reversing the Obama rules protecting ISP customer privacy is an example of Republicans reflexively and shamelessly bending over for big corporations using the simplistic formula: “big corporations=capitalism=free-market=good, government regulations=socialism=Marxism=bad.

ISPs have huge monopoly power and definitely should be regulated by the government so that they don’t abuse that power.

Yes, you are forced to deal with an ISP. In order to live a normal life in modern society, you need internet access, and most people don’t have a choice of more than two, and in many places only one. Until very recently, Spectrum (formerly TWC) was the only provider of high-speed internet in my apartment building.

Now more than ever, you should sign up for a VPN service like PIA and use it whenever you access a website that you wouldn’t want the FBI, the IRS, your significant other, your employer, or your mother to know about. But using a VPN has inconveniences. Many websites don’t work with VPN: they must be using third party security software that keeps track of known VPN IPs and rejects them, on the theory (no doubt true) that the vast majority of fraudsters are using a VPN.

Using a VPN requires technical acumen not possessed by the average ISP customer (at least that’s my experience with PIA). So the majority of people will not be able to hide their tracks from their ISP.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 30, 2017 at 1:27 pm

Posted in Technology

38 Responses

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  1. The one thing to remember is that if you use a VPN that has there own DNS lookup, your ISP will not have your web browsing history, but the VPN service will. Make sure you are using a VPN that is not selling your browsing history.

    PIA is suppose to be good about this. Any free VPN should not be trusted.

    Mike CA

    March 30, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    • Indeed, you get nothing for nothing. No one will give away free VPN services (which cost money to provide) unless they are somehow profiting from it. PIA isn’t that expensive.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      March 30, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    • A VPN could analyze the content of any unencrypted traffic regardless of the server (I don’t know how much DNS is encrypted vs not). They also have the metadata of any encrypted traffic.

      A VPN service has just as much info as your ISP does, I think.

      Magnavox

      March 30, 2017 at 6:36 pm

  2. ISPs have huge monopoly power and definitely should be regulated by the government so that they don’t abuse that power.

    They need regulation of price because of their monopoly and oligopoly status. You’d still need government regulation for privacy even with perfect competition.

    Magnavox

    March 30, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    • Well I would say you don’t need regulation of privacy if there is perfect competition, because that implies a large number of sellers and that the buyers completely understand the implications of privacy and can negotiate to keep their privacy.

      But perfect competition is never going to exist in the ISP industry. Never.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      March 30, 2017 at 1:57 pm

  3. VPNs are honeypots run by the CIA

    Portlander

    March 30, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    • No, I don’t think so.

      Of course, if you are doing anything seriously illegal, you should also use the Tor Browser. But a VPN is good enough for legal but embarrassing porn and for scofflaw activities like downloading movies, music, TV shows, and books.

      Anthony Weiner would certainly have benefited from using a VPN and not using his real name.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      March 30, 2017 at 2:32 pm

  4. PIA is idiot-proof on Chromebooks and the iPhone and I didn’t think using Open VPN on a PC looked all that difficult.

    Horace Pinker

    March 30, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    • I’m sure you are underestimating idiocy.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      March 30, 2017 at 2:48 pm

      • It really is idiot-proof on the iPhone and Chromebook. There’s an iPhone app and all you need to do is download it, open it, and enter the username and password that PIA gives you when you sign up for an account. Chrome has an extension that’s just as simple and it sends all of the traffic on your Chromebook through a VPN tunnel, not just the traffic from your browser.

        Horace Pinker

        March 30, 2017 at 3:44 pm

      • You don’t understand ‘idiot proof.’ My workplace sometimes does user testing using employees from other companies in our office. Recently we were testing the ability of adults earning decent salaries to match pegs of specific shapes to slots of corresponding shapes. And many people (mostly women & NAMs) failed.

        There are times we have had reports of testers getting ‘lost’ when traversing a straight hallway with an entrance and exit doorway.

        The depths are inconceivable.

        Panther of the Blogocube

        March 31, 2017 at 12:23 am

      • Panther, I do understand the depths of human stupidity. I’ve spent a lot of time around low-IQ NAMs and I’m someone who recognizes, for example, that many prole women need long-acting contraceptives if they don’t want to get pregnant because they can’t remember to take a pill every day. In the ghetto neighborhood where I work, it no longer surprises me when I see someone blindly and quickly make a u-turn in the middle of four lanes of heavy 30-40mph traffic. Seriously. I see this frequently.

        My point about PIA was simply that it is now very user friendly on the Chromebook and iPhone. The technical acumen that’s required to install and use PIA on those devices is simply the ability to download an app/extension and copy and paste a username and password. I’d call that “idiot proof.”

        While I wouldn’t call it “idiot proof” I’d imagine that a person with an IQ of 105 could follow these steps and install PIA on their PC:

        https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/pages/client-support/windows-openvpn

        Overall, though, Lion is right, but my guess is that we’re seeing the beginning of a trend of VPNs becoming easy to use.

        Horace Pinker

        March 31, 2017 at 6:14 pm

      • I had to deal with some VPN issues that are beyond the technical acumen of most computer users.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        March 31, 2017 at 9:11 pm

  5. This is exactly the kind of tone-deaf thing Republicans love to get up to and which I was hoping Trump, with his common sense, would reject. Maybe he’s just going along as part of getting votes for something else, but I wouldn’t trust those TruCon scum as far as I could throw them.

    This bill — not that I understand it much because I haven’t looked — certainly has terrible optics. The typical boob on the street will only know what the media tells them — “the ISPs will sell you for money!!” — and Republicans gain nothing at all, except possibly what they usually care about, which is donor money.

    The Stupid Party is running on steroids lately.

    peterike

    March 30, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    • This is exactly the kind of tone-deaf thing Republicans love to get up to and which I was hoping Trump, with his common sense, would reject.

      Like conservative health care reform?

      Magnavox

      March 30, 2017 at 6:41 pm

  6. This seems like an unnecessary self inflicted wound.

    Mike Street Station

    March 30, 2017 at 3:45 pm

  7. I thought the same thing when I read about this. However, Google and Facebook are both doing it already and making a killing. It’s almost worth losing some privacy to stick it to those leftist twats.Now if there is only a way to stick to Beezos.

    destructure

    March 30, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    • This is exactly my point.

      The Dems oppose the ISPs doing what Facebook and Google are doing because FB and Google are big Democrat donors.

      There is also the whole net neutrality issue, which is advertised as some kind of consumer-friendly legislation, but is actually designed to subsidize Netflix.

      Let all of these companies drive each others revenues down. I am hoping a real privacy law will appear that will make sale of online data illegal.

      There really is nothing here, but you are still right about Republicans being reflexively pro-business.

      map

      March 30, 2017 at 5:33 pm

      • There is also the whole net neutrality issue, which is advertised as some kind of consumer-friendly legislation, but is actually designed to subsidize Netflix.

        Basically any issue of regulation that gets a hearing in this country is going to involve two groups of corporations vying against each other. That’s much more the fault of republicans than democrats, by the way.

        Magnavox

        March 30, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      • Democrats are the ones who push net neutrality.

        The greatest scam the Dems ever pulled was their “anti-corporate” image.

        map

        March 31, 2017 at 5:56 am

  8. Corporations are run by nihilistic anti-family leftists who hate small family businesses. Elite males at the top of corporations are demonstrably most hostile to the concept of monogamy, for predictable reasons. I’ve never understood the Republican fascination of them. Actually, the Democrats are a far more conservative party in this area, even replacing much of the c-suite alpha bros with affirmative action bimbos, and Republicans are so worthless in the culture war they’re possibly farther to the left than Democrats overall, even if they don’t know or would never accept this.

    That naive Protestant work ethic still hasn’t died out. Cuck conservatives are just hopeless.

    scald85

    March 30, 2017 at 4:33 pm

  9. This is a stupid own goal but not nearly to the extent that the healthcare debacle was. Fortunately politics have been so racialized that this kinda shit doesn’t hurt as badly as it would have in 2010, but it is still stupid.

    As for Trump going along with it, it may be the right move. He has to give the GOPe and TruCon scum some things and this is a relatively cheap thing to give them. Remember that he still needs votes for the wall.

    Otis the Sweaty

    March 30, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    • He’s about to give them tax cuts and just tried to give them health care.

      Magnavox

      March 30, 2017 at 7:33 pm

  10. ISPs have huge monopoly power and definitely should be regulated by the government so that they don’t abuse that power.

    You want privacy protection from the government that, according to Snowden, is illegally collecting every American’s internet activity without a warrant?

    The Undiscovered Jew

    March 30, 2017 at 6:23 pm

  11. I used to use VPN’s frequently. But I wonder about the security they provide and is it really worth it? I guess its a small layer of protection, but I always felt that if the government wanted to see what you were doing, they could just get a subpoena of sorts and get your information anyways.

    Yup

    March 30, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    • There is nothing you can do to protect yourself online from the Feds if they are genuinely targeting you. In that sense, Donald Trump (who doesn’t use email and sent physical messages via courier in his business) is the most security savvy President we ever had. VPN is just a layer of protection above that of the general population. It protects you from general collection dragnets of the unsophisticated sort. RIAA looking for people to sue, for example.

      PerezHBD

      March 30, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    • VPNs aren’t for protection from the government.

      apothecary

      March 30, 2017 at 9:29 pm

  12. How many of you are afraid of the FBI knocking on your door, because you’ve been here for awhile?

    JS

    March 30, 2017 at 7:13 pm

    • I think you’d have to be transmitting ISIS propaganda or making bomb-building tutorials or something to get the government’s attention honestly. People get really paranoid when it comes to their internet activity. Guilty conscience.

      Two in the Bush

      March 31, 2017 at 6:47 am

      • Yeah, trust me when I say that there are at least two men on any one of your blocks looking at more fucked up shit, politically, sexually, etc. than you are right now. Don’t underestimate America’s un-paranoid degeneracy. Unless you are doing something that is explicitly against the law, you don’t have much to worry about. That being said, never let anyone other than your wife use your computer unattended.

        Dave

        March 31, 2017 at 8:36 pm

      • “never let anyone other than your wife use your computer unattended.” i would much rather have the feds going through my porn collection than my wife or girlfriend

        GM

        April 1, 2017 at 1:41 pm

  13. I wonder if the government subjects the 1% of internet users who use tor or vpn to increased surveillance figuring those are the people with the most to hide.

    Pop

    March 30, 2017 at 9:16 pm

  14. I imagine the worst thing people have is porn. Realistically, who is going to get that info and from what source? Comcast?

    Curle

    March 30, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    • The only really scary thing about that is if you’re getting a divorce and your spouse’s lawyer is even halfway competent, they will discover the fact you have a porn collection, and sure as the sun rises in the east they will see to it that your life is effectively ruined.

      Two in the Bush

      March 31, 2017 at 6:53 am

      • Why would anyone have a “porn collection”? Isn’t this stuff just free on the Internet?

        S.J., Esquire

        March 31, 2017 at 1:12 pm

      • Can you explain how a legal porn collection would ruin your life?

        Porn seems almost mainstream at the moment. I’m doubting that reporters, bloggers, lawyers, or judges, who likely all have porn habits if not collections, are going to make it their mission to make legal porn something that can ruin your life. In fact, they’d probably garner to much unwanted publicity for doing so at this point. That’s my perception of the current social climate, anyway.

        Dave

        March 31, 2017 at 8:40 pm

  15. I dislike that the Trump administration is using their win to forward a more libertarian business environment, especially before their primary platform of reversing the browning of America is executed. This is not what Trump was elected to do. The economic libertarians did not win this election. The nationalists did. Why should they, who largely opposed Trump, get to piggyback and benefit on a Trump victory? Trump may have been a populist, but he isn’t populist enough. The country club Republicans are holding both the party and this nation back. They need to be excommunicated in-full. We need a mix of Barack Obama on economic issues, and Trump on social issues, to move forward once this administration passes.

    Why bother with a VPN? Why not just use Tor? It couldn’t be easier, it’s free, and it’s inherently more anonymous.

    Dave

    March 31, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    • I agree with you on both things you said here.

      I hold pretty much the same view with VPNs. I used them frequently for about 7 years, but I just don’t see a reason to these days.

      But I agree with what you said on Trump as well. I really hoped he wouldn’t be this libertarian but it looks like he is. Honestly, I think you could convince a lot of white nationalists to vote for Obama economic policies. They don’t hate those policies, they just hate the fact that a vote for that is also a vote for Political Correctness, Affirmative Action, Less Strict immigration etc.

      Yup

      March 31, 2017 at 9:22 pm


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