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IP Address
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Amazoncom
NOT SECURE
Your Internet provider can track your Internet activity.
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IP Address
35.175.182.106
Internet provider
Amazoncom
NOT SECURE
Your Internet provider can track your Internet activity.
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Privacy Laws in the USA

IVPN customers in the USA trust us every day with their increasing demand for privacy and security. Understand why privacy is such an important issue for customers in the USA.

Data Retention by ISPs

Internet service providers (ISPs) based in the U.S. are now able to sell customers' data, including their browsing histories, and without their consent. In March 2017 the House of Representatives voted to overturn the broadband privacy rules previously mandated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)[1].

This allows ISPs to spy on any customer and sell their personal information. The scope is enormous and will include any customer’s online data and personal information, including their web browsing history, app usage and geolocation. It will also enable more mass government surveillance, something that many advocate as being entirely unconstitutional. It could also fundamentally undermine cybersecurity for users.

This goes well beyond the existing regime whereby US ISPs are required to hand over any data they have on customers, including a person’s address, credit card information and logs of what websites they’ve been visiting, if legally mandated to do so via a court order from any US law-enforcement agency[2].

Remember: Individual ISPs are essentially free to keep or delete your data as they see fit, with now literally no oversight in place. Because ISPs are private companies, they’re not obligated to reveal how long they keep customer data. So each ISP’s individual policy on data retention can vary greatly, from 30 days after a customer leaves an ISP, to even longer periods by some ISPs.

Digital Copyright Laws

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 protects the rights of copyright holders and prevents copyright infringement. Copyright infringement is the copying, redistribution or downloading of software, music, videos or games without the copyright holders expressed permission to do so. Given that ISP customer data has been used in the US to prosecute individuals through what is referred to as the ‘Copyright Alert’ system, you can be sure that your ISP is tracking you to some extent right now[3].

Freedom of Speech and Censorship

The First Amendment should protect a person’s right to freedom of speech and (to an extent) Internet use could be considered a form of speech. However, most online usage is not overtly protected by that Amendment. Furthermore, the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans from unwarranted searches and seizures, does not protect your personal emails from being spied upon. Most emails are stored on a server somewhere and are not subject to a warrant requirement. In fact, as Digital Due Process points out, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which sets standards as to how law enforcement can access electronic communication data, is incredibly opaque and outdated (it was enacted in 1986, long before the online world took hold) and is in dire need of reform[4].

Future Trends

The March 2017 overhaul of by Congress of the FCC’s online privacy provisions is even more chilling considering its long and enduring reach, as warned by Senator Bernie Sanders when he said that it also “prevents future privacy protections from being put into place”[5]. Another ‘backdoor’ mechanism for greater online surveillance will be the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act, which is well on its way to being enacted[6]. Although it faces opposition from online privacy and constitutional advocates, if it is passed this legislation would require ISPs to retain any of their customers’ web-browsing data, addresses, credit card information and other forms of personal data, for at least one year after they leave. The Act will also allow law enforcement agencies to access the data without a warrant.

Our Take

America may be the land of the free, but it’s not that free – or private – for online users. Net neutrality is a thing of the past in the U.S. – Americans need to remember that online.

Interested in other countries? See our Comparison of Internet Privacy Laws page.

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