We pass our data and our information through our ISP’s. They have the ability to sweep data about us, inject adverts and code into our browsing. The have the ability to censor and limit what they think is right and appropriate. But how far should we allow this trust to go?
Sure, there are some legislative regulations to which they must comply (snoopers charter stuff), but they have the ability to make money out of your clicks, artificially promote information in their own interests and track your very lives.
Yet on the whole we trust these people, trust them to listen into our lives and to help us on our journey around the web (suggested sites and redirects). But should we?
The latest revelation that TalkTalk has been hacked again and the WiFi passwords of hubs in peoples houses have been compromised, start to show how fragile that trust actually is. As those Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) attempt to shave off cost and be competitive, some will inevitably look at compromising of security or ethics.
At a more fundamental level, should we trust the technology that our ISP’s are using? Take BT, their backbone infrastructure is based on Huawei technology. A Chinese manufacturer that some in the US consider to be untrustworthy and an espionage risk. I’ve no idea if this is true, but I’m guessing that Cisco and other US brands could be susceptible to similar allegations from the Chinese .
More importantly, if there is even a half truth in this, then the core parts of our own internet service could be compromised and information sipped into massive analytical pots of data. These pots could be analysed at leisure over time: discovering intent, relationships, personal information, private thoughts and conversations.
True, this could be used to fight crime, but one countries and cultures definition of crime will vary from another. Treason in the UK could be consider whistle blowing in another country; news could be considered treason; facts may be considered radicalisation; sharing considered espionage.
Boundaries for the ethical stances involved by those sipping information from the Internet also vary from country to country. What is considered ethical in China may not be in Finland.
So your ISP is one of the keys to your kingdom: your internet activity filter, monitor, and policeman. The UK snoopers charter allows much greater freedoms for the ‘intelligence’ community to browse this information. To store it. To review it. To act upon it. The ethics of these actions are defined within our own country and monitored by the people who enact it.
Is your ISP someone you should trust then? No.
Do you have much of a choice? No.
What could you do to avoid your ISP? You could try VPN type services, but again your trust is in those providing the VPN. At least though you could buy a service from a country with ethical standards that match your own.
What about TOR? TOR could give you a level of anonymity if you are prepared to adhere to some basic rules, but as with the VPN, you don’t own the exit routes to the Internet any could be compromised and sites will still collect your history.
The fact is, if you are using the Internet, if you are publishing information, sharing, posting pictures, liking pages or playing games, then you are very likely to be tracked, monitored or logged. Should you stop using the internet because of this? No.
We all need to realise that the Internet is inherently insecure. What we do, how we behave and who we talk to should be considered public knowledge. Thinking this way and using the Internet this way your conscience should be your moderator. Acting this way should keep you within your moral compass. If however, either stray from your countries expected ethics and law, be prepared to be held accountable.
Keep safe people, be honest, respect everyone.