Digital Protest, Fill ISP Databases with Noise
August 12, 2018
On March 28, 2017, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution to overturn the Obama Administration regulation (Jan. 3, 2017) regarding privacy requirements. Because of S.J. Res. 34, anything you read or search for online can be compiled, packaged and sold to corporations by your ISP.
Corporations in turn can take information from your browsing habits and use it to serve you targeted ads.
Imagine if your cell phone carrier listened to your calls and then sold the contents of your conversations to the highest bidder.
Needless to say, this represents a serious privacy issue.
Recently while browsing a list of referring sites in Google Analytics, I came across a link from makeinternetnoise.com. Curious as to the content of the site and how it was linking to the site I was examining, I decided to investigate.
Internet Noise is a project by self described “Loving Troll,” Dan Schultz. Dan describes the site as, “An early stage and still evolving project.”
Internet Noise works by generating random URLs in a new tab. Theoretically, this information is vacuumed up by your ISP and sold to advertisers. A lot of the random URLs are actually Google searches for meaningless phrases such as “monday wine push” and “illegal handsaw harpsichord dessert.”
One can imagine the perplexed look on the face of an advertiser when they are presented with your browsing history.
Internet Noise bring back memories of AllAdvantage, a Pay to surf (PTS) company founded in 1998 that paid users to browse websites. Through the use of a tracker, AllAdvantage was able to deliver targeted ads for their advertisers based on website users visited. Members of AllAdvantage were paid a portion of the advertising revenue generated by their viewing habits.
A few ingenious client-side applications were created to simulate browsing and mouse clicks in order to fool the AllAdvantage software. I myself used one such application, only to be caught and have my account cancelled, but not before receiving a few small checks and an ugly T-shirt.
If you do decide to make use of this awesome tool to make some Internet Noise, it might be a good idea to estimate the amount of bandwidth this tool actually uses, especially if your account is a metered (capped) bandwidth connection.
Does this tool really cause havoc for ISPs? It’s doubtful. However it does bring attention to the fact your ISP is spying on you, not to mention, a simple way to protest.