How to hide browser history from ISP [Privacy Guide]

Madalina Dinita
by Madalina Dinita
Managing Editor
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  • Some ISPs have been known to sometimes monitor and sell client browsing data.
  • If you fear you may be exposed, there are a few things that you can do to stay private.
  • You can read more about how to stay hidden on our Windows 10 Privacy Hub.
  • For example, you can use a VPN, and you can read more about them from our Security page.
keep privacy from ISP

Your ISP provider sometimes knows more about you then you do. As strange as this sentence may first seem, it is true. You’d be surprised to learn how much information ISPs store about you and your browsing history.

This data can then be used to predict or influence your behavior. It is worth mentioning that your ISP can also sell your browsing data. Yes, this is legal in many parts of the world.

However, many users don’t agree with the current privacy practices used by ISP companies and other tech companies. The user data privacy war has been going for quite some time now.

On the one hand, users accuse tech companies of violating their privacy and collecting data without their consent.

On the other hand, tech giants claim that they’re only using this information as a means to improve the quality of their services and products.

Needless to say, the two parties have yet to reach common ground. So, if you want to prevent your ISP from accessing, collecting and selling your browser data, then this article is for you.

We’ll give you a few quick tips and suggestions on how to protect your online privacy and hide your browsing history from your ISP’s prying eyes.


Does a VPN hide your browsing history from your ISP?

1. Install a reliable VPN software

 

If you haven’t installed a VPN tool yet, you should do it now. VPNs are powerful and reliable solutions that you can use to protect your privacy while online, as well as enhance your network security.

With the help of VPN software, you can hide your true location and encrypt Internet traffic. Your ISP won’t be able to track your browsing history because it looks like you’re surfing as somebody else.

Moreover, it won’t be able to tell what pages you have visited and use that information to create a user profile about you.

So, if you want to browse the Internet anonymously, it’s critical that you install a VPN software, such as Private Internet Access for example.

Developed by Kape Technologies, their services provide unrestricted and uncensored access to the worldwide Internet.

For example, if you are blocked by strict censorship from your ISP or firewall, this service will bypass the censorship and firewall.

What this means is that the service gives you unrestricted access via a different IP address from the country of your choice, so that you can access even content that is region-locked.

This is thanks to 3300 servers located in 46 different countries around the world, on all the continents.

More so, Kape Technologies’ Swiss gateways provide the strongest levels of privacy available, and any blocked software by your ISP including P2P, and other various software applications will be unblocked and unrestricted thanks to their systems.

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access

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Now, the VPN offer is quite diverse. There are VPN services suitable for gamers, others allow you to watch geographically-restricted video content such as Netflix, and more.

Speaking of VPNs, stay alert when receiving various messages and invitations to test particular VPN services. Keep in mind that in the age of no privacy, VPN scams are on the loose.


2. Use a privacy-friendly browser

While most mainstream browsers support the use of cookies and other tracking solutions, fortunately there are also privacy-friendly browsers that you can rely on.

One such example is Tor. This browser protects your privacy by switching your communications around a network of relays. In this manner, nobody can see what websites you’ve visited and websites can’t track your physical location.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to download and use Tor browser on Windows 10.


3. Use a privacy concerned search engine

startpage search engine windows 10

There are also search engines out there that protect user privacy and don’t store your IP address or search queries.

One such search engine is DuckDuckGo. Speaking of DDG, its CEO recently hosted an AMA session on Reddit, answering user questions about online privacy.

Of course, the main disadvantage when using privacy-focused search engines is search result accuracy. To call a spade a spade, these tools aren’t powerful enough to deliver results similar to Google’s in terms of accuracy.

Of course, you can somehow fix this issue by adding additional keywords.

Other private search engines that don’t track you include:

  • WolframAlpha
    • Provides knowledge base style results, somewhat similar to Google Snippet
  • StartPage
    • This search engine is enhanced by Google, thus providing more accurate results.
    • However, unlike Google, it removes identification information from your queries, it doesn’t store your IP address
  • SwissCows
    • This browser with a funny name relies on intelligent answer engines based on semantic information recognition to deliver the best possible results to your queries.
    • Swisscows doesn’t even analyze user data.
    • Topics, IP addresses and personal information are not stored.

All the servers are located in Switzerland and neither the US nor other data snoopers can get their hands on this information.

In all honesty, it is worth mentioning that VPN software, private browsers and search engines cannot fully protect you from ISP interference. Keep in mind that ISPs can still push traffic monitoring software and ads even when a VPN is in place.

Well, by following the solutions listed above you’ll at least make the browsing history collection job much more difficult for your ISP.

We’d also recommend installing a dedicated privacy protection software to add an extra layer of protection. For more information about the best privacy tools that you can use on your Windows 10 computer, check out this guide.


More privacy solutions are in the works

browsing history privacy

The good news is that more privacy software solutions will be available in the future. Where there is demand, there will be supply.

Internet and technology users have already expressed their disagreement against the user profiling practices and data collection strategies that tech companies currently use.

Speaking of which, it is worth noting that a firewall that blocks facial recognition engines is already in the works. It should be available on the market this May.

We’re sure that many more privacy protection software will be developed in the coming years. It is not too far-fetched to suggest that this privacy protection software business will become as big as the antivirus business.

Users want to take full control over their data and these solutions land at the right time.

What’s your stance in this user data privacy debate? Are you planning to install a VPN and use a privacy-friendly browser and search engine on your computer?

Have you ever had an unpleasant online experience when you simply felt that someone or something was spying on you?

If you’ve got additional tips and suggestions on how to protect your privacy and block ISP from storing and selling your browsing data, do let us know in the comments below.


FAQ: Learn more about ISP

  • Can I hide my online activity from my ISP?

Yes, by using a solid VPN, you can hide everything you do online even from the company that provides you with Internet connectivity.

  • What is an ISP?

An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a company such as AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, or other similar companies that provides Internet access to home users, enterprises, and mobile networks.

  • How does an ISP work?

ISPs allow users to connect to the Internet as long as they have the right equipment, network settings, and if they are connected to the network. The connectivity speed varies based on your subscription, and you can check out if you’re getting your money’s worth by using an Internet Speed tester.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2018  and has been since revamped and updated in May 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.