The technical fact is that whoever your ISP is, EVERYTHING you do goes through that one connection point. That includes your computer, all devices (phone, tablet,…) that use your wifi, and anything else that uses services from that company (television, phone, streaming,…)

The design of the internet necessarily requires the initial point of entry plus all the intermediate nodes up to the destination to know who the sender and the recipient are. In the original design that information was lost as soon as the message was passed on. The internet addresses were only in the computers, never saved, and no human ever saw them. But as technology has been giving us faster and faster computers and bigger and bigger storage, the government was able to require that the ISP record and save the metadata. Not just at the source and destination, but at all the intermediate nodes, too. Technology now also lets them record all the contents. Your ISP is in a position to know absolutely everything you do on the internet; to record it, preserve it, share it, and data mine it so all sorts of humans would be able to see it and (mis)use it. 

Technology has erased all practical sense or meaning of privacy. If you have your phone with you when you go to the bathroom, GPS will tell them where and for how long. They can remotely turn on the mike and camera on your phone to see and hear everything you do. 

The only recourse is in law. But as Clinton said, “prove it, sucker.” How would anyone not in the employ of the ISP or the government know whether the ISP is obeying the law to ensure your privacy, especially if it’s violated in the name of national security? How would you as a customer know whether the ISP is or is not selling your private information for marketing purposes? You wouldn’t, and no threat of any class action suit would deter an unscrupulous ISP protected by countless pages of terms of use agreements that no one ever reads. 

To complicate things further, Google and others have developed all the surveillance tools to soak up and mine all sorts of data about you, and use them to give you a “better internet experience.” They auto-correct and fill in your typing based on your past entries, they suggest web site names and products based on your past searches and purchases, etc. They can do that only because they spy on your every keystroke. And we just lap it all up. 

Yes there are browsers that offer protection from this level of spying. But…

What no one can protect you from, technologically, is the ISP, your one connection into the internet through which goes everything that you do. 

What no one can protect you from, practically, is human nature. There is no such thing as knowledge for the sake of knowledge. If we know something, we will act on it. If something is possible, we will do it. We act first, then worry about consequences later. Maybe. 

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