MINNEAPOLIS - The White House has announced that President Trump doesn't plan to stop a controversial vote in Congress that rolls back an FCC rule designed to protect our personal data from being sold by Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
"What people are most concerned about is that the ISPs can sell your browsing history without your consent," said Jeff Brown, a quality control engineer for The Nerdery.
Despite the concern, Brown says there are still ways to protect your privacy online. Make sure your bank and many other sites that handle your personal information have an HTTPS prefix, that ensures that your data is encrypted and your service provider can't see or sell that info. As for the rest of the HTTP sites, he says ISPs have already been able to sell it.
"So nothing has really changed," Brown said.
The FCC was set to change the rule to require consent before providers like Verizon AT&T, and Comcast sell our info, but the corporations successfully lobbied Republicans, arguing sites like Facebook and Google already use personal information for targeted ads.
"The difference is, you can choose not to use Google," said Michael Johnson, with the Technology Leadership Institute at the U of M. "You have a lot less opportunity to remove yourself from that problem with your ISP."
Johnson says he is concerned that ISPs will now begin more aggressively collecting and selling our information, which is why he stepped up his own personal online security.
"There's check mark next to my little icon, that means right now I'm on the VPN," Johnson said.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, which is a server that can mask your browsing from your service provider by routing it through another location.
"I can choose a state, I can use a country," Johnson said. "There's value in that data and someone is going to benefit from it. It's our duty to protect it."
Brown says he doesn't use a VPN, preferring instead to be careful about his browsing and the data he shares.
For the growing number of people turning to VPNs to protect their data, Brown and Johnson agree that you want to do your homework and read plenty of reviews. Also, consider that you often get what you pay for.
Keep in mind, VPNs can also slow down your internet speed if you prefer to stream movies or games, and sites like Netflix block most VPNs altogether.