While the FCC fought hard to keep your internet browsing data safe from third parties, it appears the United States government has other interests in mind. That said, your internet service provider (ISP) may soon begin selling your personal internet browsing data to third parties, putting your privacy at risk of exploitation.
On the other hand, there’s still a way you can protect yourself and your data. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) will keep your internet browsing data hidden from your ISP, which in turn keeps it from being sold to third parties.
At iDB, we’ve went on and on about why using a VPN is important and how to use one, so we will refer you to our post about this topic rather than repeat ourselves again, but we will share some important information in this piece about VPNs that you might find interesting if you have any desire to keep your data private from third parties.
Why a VPN helps
A VPN is a secure tunnel for your information to travel through and can be installed on your personal computer or mobile device in the form of downloadable software. Most VPNs will typically offer some form of encryption so your data isn’t readily snooped on by hackers.
When you use a VPN, the service’s servers handle your internet browsing data instead of your ISP’s. These remote servers are typically located far away from you, so after logging into one, you get a masked IP address from the location of the particular server you’re connected to rather than the current location of your computer.
Reputable VPNs keep all your information private and don’t store logs on their users, which means it’s possible to hide your internet activity from prying eyes that are just dying to see personally-identifiable information that puts your own privacy and security at risk.
For the most part, you want to avoid free VPNs because they’re free for a reason; some tend to collect data themselves, which can be just as worrisome as your ISP collecting and selling data, while others come with various different caveats like bandwidth caps or ads. While using a free VPN is typically better than using no VPN at all, you should consider your options, as there are often cheap paid VPNs that offer far more perks.
What VPN should you use?
Because there’s a bevy of VPN services out there, it can be tough to decide what one to use for your needs. We have a few suggestions for you that might be worth looking into:
Best Paid VPNs:
- Private Internet Access – perhaps my favorite VPN of all time because of its multi-device support, lack of blocked websites, unlimited data, extreme layers of privacy protection, and brilliant web speeds. It includes little bells and whistles like ad-blocking and flexible payment options. On the other hand, the UI isn’t as pretty as some other options. The price ranges from $3.33-6.95 per month. Read my full review of Private Internet Access for much more details.
- NordVPN – a highly-rated VPN service with an easy-to-use UI, automatic killswitch, extreme privacy protection, unlimited data, and ultra-fast web speeds. The price ranges from $5.75-11.95 per month.
- VPN Unlimited – another well-rounded VPN service with unlimited data, great privacy standards, multi-device support, excellent speeds, and more. Unlike many others, this VPN service offers a one-time payment for lifetime access rather than only subscription-based services. The price ranges from $2.50-5.99 per month or $149.99 for lifetime access.
Best Free VPNs:
- Windscribe – a free VPN option that gives you up to 10GB of high-speed web browsing privacy every month. The bundle includes multi-device support, ad-blocking, and a built-in firewall. Paid options are also available if you want unlimited bandwidth.
- TunnelBear – was one of my favorite free VPNs before I started using paid alternatives. It has a sleek UI for Mac and iOS, provides good privacy, and offers multi-device support. You get 500MB of free bandwidth every month, but you can tweet and share the service to earn more bandwidth. Paid options are also available if you want more.
- Hotspot Shield – another VPN I used frequently before I started getting into paid VPNs. It’s easy to set up, supports multiple devices, and they’re dedicated to protecting user privacy. On the flip side, users are capped at 256MB daily (mobile) and 750MB daily (desktop) and the service is ad-supported. Paid options are also available if you don’t want to be capped.
- Opera VPN – a VPN that we recommended on our YouTube channel a few months back. It’s free and offers unlimited bandwidth.
Although ISPs are likely to start selling your personal web browsing data for their own monetary gain, that doesn’t mean you have to silently put up with it. Using a VPN is a great way to protect your information from unwanted eyes and to reside inside of your own private bubble.
Will you be using a VPN to shield your internet browsing data from your ISP? Share why or why not in the comments below!