How to Browse Without Being Tracked by ISPs
The global Internet Service Provider (ISP) industry comprises 90,605 companies with a total market size of $726 billion. ISPs are in the business of providing you with seamless, uninterrupted access to information when online. But if you step back and take a closer look, you will discover that many of them are also in the slightly less altruistic business of tracking and selling your data.
If you are not too keen on relinquishing your digital privacy, then read on. This article explains the pervasive practice of ISP data tracking and offers actionable advice on avoiding it.
Pro tip: To hide your browsing history from ISPs, start using a VPN service. Basically, VPN is a simple app allowing you to reroute your internet connection, thereby making your online activity untraceable for ISPs. You can enable a VPN on both your Mac and phone to maintain confidentiality at home and on the go. Here’s how it’s done:
- Download Clario
- Create an account
- Select a VPN location and start browsing privately
Want to browse without anyone looking over your shoulder? Learn about ISP tracking and how to stop it in one of the sections below.
- What is an ISP?
- What kind of data ISPs collect?
- How long can ISPs keep data?
- Can ISPs sell data?
- Can a VPN protect from ISP?
- How to hide internet activities from ISPs?
What is an internet service provider or ISP?
An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is an organization that provides customers with access to the internet. Some ISPs also offer telephone, television, email, web hosting, and domain registration services. Internet access is provided through a wide range of communication mediums, from telephone lines and television cables to fiber-optics and cellular networks.
What kind of data does an ISP collect?
ISPs can collect the following types of data:
- Visited websites and webpages
- Date and time of visit
- Time spent on website and webpages
- Your IP address
- Your geo-location
The exact kind of collected data depends on your ISP, contract terms, and provided services. The country you live in also plays a major role in ISP data collection. Whereas American ISPs can freely collect their customer data, the practice is illegal in many European countries.
By analyzing collected data, ISPs can determine your:
- Browsing habits
- Online shopping preferences
- Hobbies and interests
- Political party affiliation
- Personal relationship
- And much more
If your ISP wants to make money off you, they can then sell this information too.
How long can ISPs keep your data?
In many countries, ISPs are legally required to keep your data for an extended period of time. For example, the mandatory data retention period is six months in the European Union and 2 years in Australia.
Unlike the majority of European countries, the US doesn’t have a mandatory data retention period for ISPs. Even if a country does not mandate customer data retention, some ISPs may still have systems in place to collect and retain as much data as they want. Therefore, it’s always worth taking steps to ensure your digital privacy regardless of where you live.
How does the data economy work? Can an ISP sell my data?
Sure, this industry is expected to change in the near future - especially with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) having come into play and its federal equivalent being prepared for other states. But this doesn’t necessarily mean your data will be free from attempts to monetize it. Rather, ISPs will be simply required to notify you about data collection and selling and offer you the chance to opt out.
The price of data collected by ISPs depends on three factors:
- How many different types of data are grouped together
- How in demand the data is
- How hard it is to access
Does a VPN protect you from your ISP?
Yes. The easiest way to protect yourself from ISP tracking is to install a VPN. By hiding your IP address and encrypting everything you do online, a good VPN can make you virtually invisible to your ISP. It has its downside, though - your internet speed might slow down. But it’s a small price to pay for online privacy.
How to hide internet activity from ISPs
To hide your internet activity from your ISP, use a VPN. A reliable VPN can hide your IP address and encrypt the entirety of your web traffic. Thus, you can safely browse the internet without being tracked by your ISP.
Here’s how to hide internet activity from ISPs using a VPN:
1. Download Clario and create an account
2. In the Browsing section, go to the Browsing location tab and click Next
3. Select any VPN location and click Connect
Now your ISP cannot track your online activities. But there’s more to Clario than just VPN-enabled private browsing. The app also brings you 24/7 data breach monitoring, real-time antivirus, ad blocking, and other features crucial for maintaining your digital safety.
Now you know why and how to guard your data from ISPs. If you are not willing to give away an iota of your data, you might be also interested in other ways to protect it. Take a few minutes to read our other articles on privacy and data protection below.