For Internet privacy, VPNs are an imperfect shield; Lauren Reynolds, Rose Law Group litigation attorney who focuses on privacy and data breach issues, comments

Credit: Minh Uong/The New York Times

By Brian X. Chen | The New York Times

When Congress voted to overturn online privacy rules last week, Steve Wilmot, a Los Angeles songwriter, reacted like many worried consumers: He looked into signing up for a technology service known as a virtual private network, or VPN.

The online privacy rules, which were set to go into effect this year and which President Trump fully repealed on Monday, would have required broadband providers like Comcast and Charter to get permission from customers before selling their browsing history to advertisers. Without restrictions, the companies can track and sell people’s information with greater ease.


“With the repeal of the FCC’s Internet privacy rules, which will no longer go into effect in 2017, consumers are searching for alternative ways in which to protect their privacy while surfing the Internet. Although some of these alternatives, such as VPNs and ad-blockers, alleviate privacy concerns to a certain extent, they are imperfect solutions.
Even where consumers are able to prevent their Internet providers from tracking their online activity, companies such as Facebook and Google are also able to track the online activity of their users. The FCC’s rules would not have covered such companies. Further, at least a few of these solutions result in slower internet speeds and other consequences that will likely discourage use by consumers in a society that values speed and immediate results.”
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