DES MOINES, Iowa-- It’s the probably the first thing you did when you woke up. You did it again during lunch and you’re probably going to do it again when you get back home: going online.
“I can get my daughter whatever she needs for school. I can order groceries, It’s a matter of convenience often times,” said Shontavia Johnson, director of the Intellectual Property Law Center at Drake Law School.
The average American spends over a 10 hours-a-day online and throughout that whole time that data is being collected by our internet provided.
“It’s significantly valuable. They can determine where you are, what you are purchasing, how long you spend on a website. You can get information about children and their browsing history. So, a significant amount of information,” said Johnson.
It’s easy to see why this could be a privacy issue. That is one of the reasons why President Obama pushed a rule change through right before he left office. He intended to limit the amount and type of data companies could collect without permission. On Tuesday, congress repealed that rule and sent the bill to President Trump who is expected to sign it.
All of your online activity, every purchase, every click, every web site could soon be tracked and sold, without limits. It's a proposition that could earn some companies a lot of money.
“It’s worth billions if not more,” said Johnson.
So, here is the next logical question, is there anything can do to protect ourselves, if we don’t want all of online activity to be sold?
“There are certainly ways you can. You can download certain program to your cell phone or web browser to hide some of the things you are doing and protect the information that you’re using,” says Johnson.
Johnson suggests that the best way to protect yourself is to download and use a program called a VPN or Virtual Privacy Network. It will allow you to hide your online activity. You can find these for free but Johnson urges users to be diligent and read the fine print. Also, just like many apps online, you get what you pay for. The best VPN Apps will cost a little bit, but if you’re concerned about online privacy, it’s worth the investment.
On your phone or home computer you can download a free browser that has a VPN built into it for free, called Opera.