This week, Congress voted to allow internet service providers to sell users’ web browsing histories, rolling back FCC rules passed under the Obama administration. Activists have already roundly criticized the vote as a win for a telecom industry eager to help sell targeted ads, but there’s one new idea on what users can do to fight back.
Built by technologist Dan Schultz, a tool called Internet Noise will send random searches through a browser window, introducing some chaos to the tracking and ad-profiling process. Just close your browser when you’re done, and the snapshot of your history should be a little less clear. When I gave it a shot, I got information on a Massachusetts diner, a copy of an inscrutable scientific paper, a New York Times article from last year, and Google results for “skylight babies.”
As Schultz notes on the website for the tool, Internet Noise is a form of protest (and even a fun spin through weirder corners of the web), but it is emphatically not a way to shield your personal privacy on the internet. How disruptive the website might actually be to an advertising profile also isn’t clear, especially if you’re still spending the majority of your time with your usual browsing habits.
But it is a clever way of bringing attention to the issue. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in a more hands-on approach, consider a VPN.
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