Last month, the U.S. government sold your soul to ISPs by killing privacy rules which, if they had ever been allowed to exist, would have forced Big Brother to ask nicely before he spied on you.
But the powers that be have decided that ISPs can (and definitely will) sell your browsing and app usage history to advertisers looking to spend their ad dollars smartly.
Beating big brother
If you aren’t down with the whole ‘watching your every move’ vibe, you aren’t alone. But is there really anything you can do to stem the tide of calculated advertisements headed your way, other than sacrificing your computer to a force field of ad blockers and hoping for some peace?
Maybe not, unless you’re ready to go back in time to the pre-Internet era.
But you can try to trip up those clever ISPs by screwing with your data until its basically useless to them.
No one’s going to pay the big bucks for a bunch of nonsense they can’t turn into bigger bucks.
If you can’t beat ‘em, confuse ‘em
The idea is to mask your internet usage patterns with a sea of white noise and other pollution while simultaneously thwart ISPs looking for marketable info.
If you’re not quite code-savvy enough to DIY, there are a few scripts and browser extensions that essentially randomize your browser history, including RuinMyHistory and Noizy.
Senior Staff Technologist at Electronic Frontier Foundation Jeremy Gillula wants this pollution strategy to work, but he’s skeptical. “I’d love to be proven wrong about this,” he told Ars Technica. “I’d want to see solid research showing how well such a noise-creation system works on a large scale before I trust it.”
“In the end, it turns into a game of statistical cat-and-mouse between you and your ISP: Can they figure out how to separate the signal from the noise?” Gillula wrote to Ars.
“I think ISPs will have a lot more resources (money and smart engineers who will be paid a lot) to try to figure out how to do that—way more resources than any individual or small open source project will.”
Is totally random totally effective?
Unfortunately, even with unlimited resources, this may not be the best strategy. See, patterns tend to stand out even stronger against a random background. Harder to catch patterns may actually be easier to find if you use a ton of random cyberspace pollution to hide your internet browsing habits.
[clickToTweet tweet=”A more effective defense might be to create a ton of fake patterns, so the real pattern is obscured.” quote=”A more effective defense might be to create a ton of fake patterns, so the real pattern is obscured.”]
You might end up with some weird targeted ads, but the ISPs will be selling less useful data, and your internet usage history will be better protected.