ISP is not just an Internet Service Provider. They are the medium through which the data transfer happens and you get connected to the internet. This means he can monitor what you browse, where you buy stuff and other trails. My ISP would be knowing that I am revealing details of people like him.
When I browse regarding some particular product such as router the ISP would share the information which would be used against me in the form of ads. Ever noticed after browsing on Amazon the same ads would be shown on Facebook or other Googled pages? According to US internet privacy rules, ISPs shouldn’t sell the browsing data and history to advertisers. But ISPs can only monetize your online behavior. Read this article about what and how they can monetize.
What Can My ISP see?
Can you see SECURE written next to the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) written above this website? So this is secured and encrypted which the ISP cannot see. While some of the websites load only Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) without Secure Socket Layer (SSL). A site without SSL is not secured its transparent and ISP can monitor our usage. Most of the social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram are HTTPS encrypted.
What if I use Unencrypted websites?
In the case of an unencrypted website, the ISP would know your Universal Resource Locator (URL). He can also see a number of hours you spent on that particular website. According to Gigi Sohn, former FCC chairman of Tom Wheeler, ISPs “have access to everything you do online such as What website you see, what time of the day you stay online, the number of hours you spent per website, the device you are using to browse.” When it comes to the websites related to news, shopping, health out of top 50, 42 of the sites are not encrypted. Some of the popular ones are Huffington Post, IKEA, Target.com etc.
What if I use an Encrypted website?
Nearly 70% of the websites are encrypted which do not share the details of the user accessing the website. When we use encrypted websites with HTTPS the ISPs cannot monitor much. But still, ISPs can partially get the URL of the website you are currently using, which the ISP uses to figure out some statistics such as guessing your age, field of interest, online/offline status, and other internet usage habits. According to Dallas Harris a broadband privacy attorney, “The fact you’re looking at a website can reveal whether you are browsing from home or not.” The amount of information which is mined while we are online is unimaginable. We think no one’s watching while data get accumulated.
Why are ISPs Desperate to Know What We Use?
The ISPs not only charge us for the internet which they provide but also try to make money by selling the browsing history to the marketing and advertising industry. Such breaching of users privacy is not acceptable. Let me tell you where do ISPs use the data which they fetch.
Snooping the Traffic and Inserting Ads
The data and browsing history would be taken into count. You’ll see related ads on your screen. ISPs such as AT&T, CMA, and Charter have found inserting ads earlier.
Selling our Browsed Data to Advertisers
According to Advertising Age, Consumer Insight 365, service from SAP “ingests updates regarding 300 cell phone event per day for 20-25 million mobile subscribers.”
ISPs Inject Undetachable Tracking Cookie
In this instance, even a HTTPS website can be tracked from such cookies which would be sent to the advertising agency and ISP would be paid based on those data from every customer. One such ISP was Verizon which injects “Spercookie” to track the users. This was so intense which used to track even if you are using incognito mode, private browsing mode, or with track blocker.
According to EFF, in 2011 a lot of ISPs used to hijack your search result into other search engines such as Paxfire where most of the links used to be Ads. They used to redirect from Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.
Pre-installed apps which log your URL usage
Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile were found to logging the users URL usage and the apps used. Carrier IQ helped them to track the website and usage from their app. Trevor Eckhart of Electronic Frontier Foundation made a research to reveal how Carrier IQ used to track the users.
How to Secure my Internet Usage
You can use VPN’s which would change the IP address virtually and the data cannot be fetched easily as normal browsing. Anonymous browsing is possible with TOR browser which uses set of virtual tunnels and access you to the internet. Browsing details are nearly impossible to extract while using a browser such as TOR.