The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

'A voice for the voiceless'
Kiley O’Brien ’25, Assistant Features Editor • July 18, 2024
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Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Browser history for sale

Browser history for sale

What lies ahead for Internet providers and customers

Congress voted to repeal the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) rule “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunication Services” on March 28.  The proposed law, that had not yet been put in place, “requires ISPs [Internet Service Providers] to obtain affirmative ‘opt-in’ consent from customers to use and share certain information, including app usage and web browsing history”, as stated in the press release from the White House on March 28. The original restriction, which was put in place under Obama administration, was mostly to prevent privacy infringement from taking place in the future .

Of course, the law did not guarantee 100 percent security and privacy on the Internet. Using the Internet naturally forces people to publicize themselves as well as give sensitive information to people in power in large corporations.

We are at a point where the Internet is no longer a commodity or a convenience. People must have access to it in order to complete basic tasks. What you search for online says a lot about your personality, occupation and how your ideas flow. A search history for sale means your thought processes are up for grabs, whether you like it or not.

For example, have you ever searched for something to purchase online and found advertisements for that same product only a few clicks away? This is the result of online cookies storing your information and passing them from one website to the next, and it is even interchangeable through all of your devices. For instance, you may search for something on your computer, which is connected to your Facebook account. Later, while scrolling through Instagram on your phone, you find an advertisement for something you searched for hours ago on your computer. Cookies collect and connect information from all of your accounts, devices and their search histories. Now imagine a more detailed and careful collection of data on all of your devices. This could lead to much more aggressive and specific advertising on the Internet.

The near future does not seem to have much responsibility in store as far as Internet privacy. For the time being, there are imperfect solutions such as a virtual private network (VPN) which helps protect your information from being available to your service provider. Unfortunately, there is a service provider tied to these as well, but is just a little more cautious and responsible with your information (one could hope).

Additionally, at the risk of very slow surfing speeds, Internet users may use Tor, an online service that allows them to hide their identity as well as their whereabouts while surfing the web.

Internet privacy is important for all of it’s users. The more dependent we become on the Internet for our daily lives, the more we must defend our rights related to Internet usage. The direction in which we send ourselves in these seemingly still primitive times of the digital age will have everlasting effects on mankind—something we can never be too careful with.

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