Internet Privacy In America Made Great Again

I’m guessing that this week Mr. Trump will sign (1) the resolution repealing a proposed FCC rule barring ISPs from collecting and selling information related to their customers’ browsing habits. This means that just about every service provider on the other side of the terminal block upon which your internet connection appears can proceed with projects to spy on your activities (just like the NSA) and sell the information they gather to the highest bidder.

The fact is that not much will change from the state of affairs that exists today except expression of the government’s intent to move away from the people’s interests and toward corporate interests when it comes to internet privacy policy. After the last election we should not be surprised by this. And, the privacy rule being repealed has not actually taken effect yet.

So, what’s a body to do in this new government of, by, and for the corporations? Lots of safe browsing advice is to be found on the web, but one piece of that advice now becomes a requirement for those who want to maintain even a modicum of control over what their ISP can see and sell. The prudent internet user simply must be using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt not only the content of traffic, but the identity of the service or destination to which one is connected.

I have been using a VPN whenever I take my laptop or tablet out of my home. I’ll be using it all the time now. When I selected my VPN, I looked for one operated by a European provider (government of the people, good privacy law) and which provided its own Domain Name Services (DNS). It does no good to employ a VPN that uses DNS servers that are owned by the ISP or some other privacy invading web service entity. That might take some research. There are many good options. (2)

Sadly, good VPN options all cost money, about $60 per year, a new tax on privacy in America made great again.

-George-

  1. Updated April 4, he did, on April 3.
  2. https://thatoneprivacysite.net/simple-vpn-comparison-chart/

Going To Mars

I read this morning that NASA has a plan to get to Mars in 20 years. (1) If it takes 20 years, they will probably land at Elon’s third DragonPort and freshen up a bit at the local SpaceX hotel. (2) But that’s not the point. Once on Mars and cleaned up after the long trip, when those intrepid NASA explorers take a Model Y out for a run in the circumplanetary desert they will have no water, no trees, no animals, no oxygen, and a thin CO2 atmosphere in which to suffocate should their breathable air bottles spring leaks.

Which is to say, why bother? Our new EPA chief may be able to recreate this environment on Earth in less than 20 years and save a lot of money.

-George-

  1. https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/journey-to-mars-next-steps-20151008_508.pdf
  2. http://www.space.com/34234-spacex-mars-colony-plan-by-the-numbers.html

Ad Blockers

Several of the web sources I like to use to stay up on current affairs in politics and technology have recently started blocking access to those who use ad blockers. I’ve been able to stay connected to my domains of interest by finding alternate sources (not alternate facts), or by twiddling a few browser knobs.

It seems to me that, to name two, all The New York Times and The Inquirer have done is to chase folks away from their own shops. They have reduced their own potential reader bases while doing nothing to fix their core problem. I’d love to see some numbers that say differently.

Here’s the thing, like many ad blocker users, I don’t use an ad blocker to block ads. That’s right. I use an ad blocker to block connections to web sites that I do not trust, and to block scripts that have nothing to do with a media company’s delivery of news and everything to do with increasingly shady ways of taking personal information from me.

For example, if The New York Times and The Inquirer would serve their own ads from their own domains, if those ads did not pop up and dance in front of the content I am trying to read, if they did not run sleazy little programs to sift through my browser’s internal electronic garbage can, I would look at them without complaint, with boredom perhaps, but not complaint. You know, like I do with the old fashioned paper newspaper I get every day.

It’s time to look behind you, guys and gals, because your view of the future looks pretty grim.

-George-