As we go about our daily searches, site perusing, email (Gmail, Yahoo Mail, etc) and YouTube Russian dash cam videos we are refining who we are to all those that watch. But who is watching and what are they doing? “They” being Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, pretty much any search engine you use and most sites that you visit.
Tracked/mined data is used to give users better search results, targeted ads, restaurant recommendations, map locations, directions and more. It is extremely useful and we trade our privacy for these convenient free tools.
If we don’t want to be tracked or data mined, we don’t have to use these services. Pay for an email address (Rackspace Email), calendar, or use a search engine that doesn’t keep tabs on you (DuckDuckGo). There are always options.
So no problem, right? Well there is something new that is happening with Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Google’s threat of bringing gigabit fiber to cities is forcing a change that is of some concern. Google fiber users will continue to have their Google services (Gmail, Docs, Calendars, etc) mined, however the rest of their traffic will now be open to data mining also. This data won’t be attached to specific users but will instead be demographics mining. So far, this isn’t a huge deal but it is a shift.
As a result of this competition one ISP now offers competitive internet speeds at reduced cost by having users opt-in to marketing plans. The opt-in allows the ISP to data mine ALL traffic from the user that is not secured end-to-end (SSL Encryption – https). Let me say that again. ALL your traffic, not secured, will be data mined. ALL. Amazon searches, emails, even incognito windows, any unsecured packet sent through your ISP is now fair game to learn and market to the user directly or via one of their third party advertisers.
Before you sign on the dotted line to get that reduced cost internet access or that sweet free tablet, read the fine print and research any parts you don’t understand. You might be getting more than you bargained for.