Can Your Internet Provider See Your Browsing History?
It is not out of place to suspect that your internet provider tracks and profits from your history and browsing habits.The truth is, these service providers can track everything you do on the internet, from the websites you visit, to how long you spend on those sites to the content you watch, as well as your geographical location. For many internet users, it seems commonplace that their internet providers should see all that they do online.It is easy to assume that they require this information to provide you with internet service. But this is not the case. Choosing home internet providers you can trust is never easy.If you are wondering why exactly your ISP would want to see your browsing history, here are a few potential reasons:
- Advertising: In the world we live in today, personal data is pretty much equivalent to dollars, often in the form of user-targeted advertising.Suppose a company has access to your browsing habits. In that case, it is easy for them to figure out almost everything about your life, from where you shop, bank, and eat, to even more personal information like your health issues, sexual preferences, and even your marital status.Internet service providers collect information on behalf of advertisers to target you with advertisements on the websites you visit.
- Censorship: There are many countries where citizens cannot enjoy unrestricted access to the internet. Some governments limit access to certain websites for different reasons. For example, if a particular website propagates hate, speaks badly of the government, or encourages illegal activities, it could be blocked in certain countries or regions. Governments commonly use internet service providers to enforce this restriction. Since ISPs can see all the websites you visit and grant access to them, they can block access as instructed by the government.
- Bandwidth throttling: Seeing this is not as common these days, but bandwidth throttling by ISPs has been reported before. For instance, Comcast has admitted to throttling internet speeds for users with heavy internet usage, although they claim this practice has been suspended. You can avoid this by using a VPN, which prevents your ISP from seeing what you are doing online. This way, you would not be subjected to selective throttling on sites like YouTube, Netflix, and Skype.
If you do not want your ISP snooping around in your private history, here are the top three ways to do that;
- Use a VPN: This is one of the most effective ways to avoid your ISP’s prying eyes.
- Install HTTPS Everywhere: This browser extension automatically rewrites your browser requests to protect all your browsing traffic. It is one discreet way to keep your data safe.
- Use a privacy-conscious search engine: The alternative to Google, which made over 160 billion dollars from advertising revenue alone in 2019, is to use a privacy-conscious search engine like DuckDuckGo. Engines like these do not store data or track their users.
Having peace of mind while surfing the internet is important, which is why you should choose home internet providers you can trust.