Your Privacy Is Being Stripped Away

Filed Under (The HELL You Say!) by admin on 26-03-2012

It’s really pretty easy to ignore the controversy surrounding the copyright protection legislation called “SOPA” (Stop Online Piracy Act) and the “PIPA” (Protect IP Act). But both of these threaten to strip away not only your privacy, but your right to free speech on the Internet, by allowing the US Department of Justice to black list and block access to websites suspected of copyright infringement. Neither of these two bills has passed……….YET.

But if your Internet service provider becomes legally obligated to prevent you from accessing restricted websites, it might use a tool called “deep packet inspection”, to keep tabs of on you.

Keep in mind, that your PC turns all the information you send and receive online into data packets. Internet routers read the labels on those packets to determine what they are. They determine who they’re from, and where they’re going. This is how most Internet traffic works, and how the firewall on your router distinguishes what is spam and what is not.

When your ISP engages in deep packet inspection, it uses very powerful software from vendors like Procera Networks to scan and even log all the data packets that pass through its network. The packets are then either blocked, or routed to the appropriate destination.

Arguably, there are good reasons for your ISP to do this on your behalf. It could be argued that the procedure helps your ISP block the spread of viruses, or illegal downloads, and prioritize the data transmitted by bandwidth heavy applications like video chat and VoIP, which would help mitigate network congestion.

But without legal safeguards, your ISP can rummage through all the information you exchange online. This would include capturing and or selling your age, location, shopping records, and other personal data in anonymized batches to advertising companies. And of course, with the passage of these two bills, law enforcement can monitor and control or curtail your Net access without your knowledge or permission.

Is there anything you can do to protect yourself?

You can help protect your privacy by visiting only websites that offer an encrypted connection, and by establishing a secure connection to a VPN overseas, so that you can visit “blocked” websites. You can also use a free tool like “HTTPS Everywhere” to be certain that SSL encryption is always enabled when available. You can ratchet it up a notch, and sign up for a paid VPN service like HideMyNet or WiTopia to help circumvent Internet censorship. With services like these, not even your ISP (Verizon – Time Warner – Comcast – AT&T) can tell where you’re going, or what you’re doing.

You can even start using services like “Tor Network”, “XeroBank”, or some other similar service to anonymize your online activities. Or, obviously, you could do nothing. In any event I want to make sure you know that deep packet inspection software is cheap, sophisticated, and employed by governments and Internet service providers around the world.

There will be many who look at this new legislation, and say “I have nothing to hide. Why should I be concerned?”

To those people, I would respond; You’re probably not doing anything wrong or illegal when you shower and get ready for work in the morning. But would you really want someone standing at the window watching you?


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