Just because Congress screwed us, doesn’t mean we have to accept it.
Last week, Senate Republicans passed a bill that is so wildly and insanely anti-regular people that it truly makes one’s brain begin to vibrate at such a high frequency that it begins to melt into a pile of depressed goo. Senate Republicans voted, completely along party lines, to reverse FCC rules that would have prevented your Internet Service Provider (ISP) from selling your browsing history to advertisers and other companies without your consent.
If you explained this law to every American citizen who isn’t a Republican in government, or someone who works for an ISP, I can’t think of a single person who would be for this. “Excuse me, Bob America, I see you typing away at your laptop in this Starbucks, and I know you voted for Trump what with your fancy hat and tasteful shirt about Hillary Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, but how would you feel about your Internet company selling a record of the websites you’ve visited— And you’ve smashed your laptop. I hope you know that’s not where that history is stored.” NO ONE WANTS THIS. But thankfully it was just the Senate, right? After the health care disaster, there’s no way that the House Republicans would be dumb enough to—
OF COURSE THEY PASSED IT. Though there were 15 Republican defections who voted against it, so there’s some cold comfort for you while Comcast is giving your porn preferences to the highest bidder. Now the bill heads to Donald Trump’s desk, where you know it will get signed, because he’s the nation’s monster-in-chief. So is that it? Is it over? No. Here are some things you can do to fight back.
1. Use a VPN.
A VPN is a virtual private network. VPN services act as a sort of Internet middle man, encrypting your data and scattering it through networks around the world, making you much, much harder to trace. Now there are some downsides; many of the good ones require you to pay for the service, and not all websites work well with them. Netflix can be a pain with many of them, for instance, because they don’t want you to use a VPN to watch content from a different part of the world. (Or do you?) Additionally, you have to be able to trust whichever VPN service you choose, because they could potentially log all of your activity as well. Personally, I use privateinternetaccess.com. It’s cheap—under $5 a month. It’s super easy to set up. It has great reviews. And friends (including my editor) recommended it to me.
2. Work to take back the House and Senate in 2018.
Look, it’s going to be a tough road ahead at the mid-terms, particularly in the Senate, but just because something’s hard, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. The best way to gain back some of these protections is to vote for the party that put them in place originally. Which party was that? Well, I seem to remember a cool black guy was in charge… I’m sure it’ll come to me.
3. Drown your browsing history in dumb shit.
I don’t know if this would work, but it’s funny to me. You want to sell my info to advertisers? Fine. I’m going to do whatever I can to make that info less accurate and therefore less valuable for the purpose of creating ads. I’ll go to a bunch of hunting and fishing websites and just refresh for hours. Do I like to hunt or fish? Hell no. It may take a while for companies to realize the data they are getting is flawed, and more likely, it probably wouldn’t make much of an effect at all, but the act of fucking with them brings a certain therapeutic pleasure.
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