Your ISP is Going to Spy on You Starting July 12, 2012

Posted on Mar 16, 2012 by rasengan

Headless ManYour ISP is going to spy on you starting July 12, 2012.

One year ago, the RIAA and the MPAA organized a project with the largest internet service providers in the US to begin monitoring their customer’s internet activity.  This monitoring was introduced as a joint coalition to combat piracy.  A list of providers that are on board includes, but is not limited to, Time Warner, Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon and AT&T.

According to CNet’s Greg Sandoval, Cary Sherman of the RIAA has announced this week that deployments of the spying tools are nearly prepared and a tentative launch of July 12, 2012 has been set.

Reports indicate that there will be consequences for users who are caught pirating digital media.  First offenses may include forced educational rehabilitation as well as throttled connection speeds.  There have also been discussions stating that the top 200 websites will become inaccessible for users who are caught pirating.

However, the fact that ISPs are able to detect this activity indicates that they will be spying on their users.

Tips to protect your privacy

Using the internet, as well as using the internet to fileshare, is completely legal.  Here are ways to protect your privacy when engaging in legal activities:

1. Use an anonymous VPN service.  For us, not only is it obligatory to recommend a VPN, but in general, this is also the most widely accepted solution to privatize internet traffic.  VPN services provide tunnels which are completely encrypted.  Your ISP will not be able to monitor your connection.  Additionally, every application will communicate through the VPN without any manual configuration.  Bonus points for paying with anonymous crypto-currencies like Bitcoin, but for no log VPN services it is not necessary. UPDATE: Be sure to disable Google Web History and use Chrome in Incognito mode to gain even more privacy!

Difficult: Easy
Cost: Paid
Pros: All applications are encrypted.  Your ISP will not be able to spy on you.
Cons: Paid service.

2. Use an ssh based SOCKS5 proxy.  You can run a local SOCKS5 proxy with the distributed ssh client in *nix and Mac OS X as well as PuTTY for Windows.  In Windows, simply set the options for PuTTy.   In Mac OS X and *nix, simply connect via SSH like:

ssh -D <port> (<user>@)<server>
Afterwards, simply open your application and manually configure it to connect to the SOCKS5 proxy running on the above specified port on the localhost (or UPDATE: In FF, you will need to route DNS traffic through the ssh tunnel as well – enter “about:config” in the address bar and search for network.proxy.socks_remote_dns.  Set the value to true.


Difficulty: Medium
Cost: Paid (free if you already have a *nix shell)
Pros: Can be free if you already have a shell (like developers)
Cons: Manual configuration.  Does not protect all applications.



3. Tor is an amazing tool for obtaining privacy and anonymity.  For all your regular browsing needs, Tor is ideal, and best of all, it’s absolutely free.  However, Tor is not recommended when using heavy peer to peer file sharing protocols.

Difficult: Easy
Cost: Free
Pros: Very anonymous and completely free.
Cons: Slow and unable to do heavy p2p.

One reader has suggested a few options:
4. I2P
Protect your privacy.


VPN Service

Comments are closed.


  1. Jeff Bekcer

    No mentions of I2P and FreeNet? Really now?

    9 years ago
  2. Ming Liu

    Does tor router work?

    9 years ago
    1. realrasengan

      Tor is an excellent choice for staying anonymous and, in conjunction with HTTPS everywhere, you will be secure.  However, it is generally not a good idea to engage in legal file sharing through Tor since it will be a bit slow.

      9 years ago
      1. Jonah Henry

        Can you mention in the article, somewhere other than the pros/cons that you need an outside proxy? Cause that is very confusing to read.

        8 years ago
  3. BuzzCoastin

    > Use an anonymous VPN service.

    I have to use a VPn to scale the Great Firewall of China.
    So the net effect is that the US is now a step closer to China
    in its approach to internet freedom.
    In China the rights of the State and its elites are sacrosanct
    the rights of the people are subject to elite whims.
    Sound familiar Americans?

    Still Americans call it the land of the free;
    when in reality,
    it’s China in an Uncle Sam suit.

    9 years ago
  4. Tim

    Running a local SOCKS5 proxy in the way you describe here won’t stop your ISP spying on you at all! All you’re doing with that is inserting a step between your browser and your ISP on your own network at home. The ISP still sees all the traffic that you put through the proxy. How did you think this could possibly help?

    You may connect to a *remote* proxy of course, but that, like VPN, is most likely a paid service.

    Very misleading.

    9 years ago
    1. realrasengan

      Heya Tim,

      Maybe the words were a bit misleading, but when you connect with the ssh command as stated in the above article:

      ssh – D port user@server:disqus 

      you will actually be running a proxy that routes through the remote server.  This means it will be inherit the same properties of ssh — SSL baby!

      Hope this clears any confusion,

      9 years ago
      1. John Nevill

        Wouldn’t the encryption only occur between the proxy server and the proxy client?  The server still has to grab the content requested by the client from the same non-secure sources that the client could connect directly too anyway.  At some point, a computer has to go out on the big unprotected internet to get the data and that server’s ISP can see what it’s doing. If that server is on the same computer, or network as the client, then your only adding overhead with no gain. I believe your only bet, if you don’t have a remote server to which you can SSH or VPN, is to use TOR. 

        9 years ago
        1. realrasengan

          Hi John,

          Yes, you are right.  The ssh server that you are ssh’ing into must be remote and located in a datacenter outside of the ISPs that have decided to spy under this new graduated plan.

          In this case, then, your connection from your local machine to the remote ssh server will be encrypted, and therefore safe.

          9 years ago
        2. shep

          All proxies suffer from the same limitation you are complaining about, including TOR. At some point the data becomes unencrypted. The advantage is that if a lot of people are using the same proxies/exit nodes, then it’s security through obscurity since noone can tell which traffic belonged to whom. As long as the proxy server is located outside the US, you should be fine. If it’s inside the US then the person running the proxy could be in trouble.

          9 years ago