If you think Google knows more about you than your parents do, imagine the kind of dope your ISP could drop if pushed to give up the goods.
As the gateway to all our personal Internet communications, service providers could create detailed logs of everything you've ever done online: e-mail, Web surfing, IM, file downloads, and more. The potential for using such records in criminal investigations (or worse) is huge, which is why some lawmakers have been pushing legislation that requires ISPs to retain user data for a year or longer.
“We are more trusting of ISPs than we should be,” says Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute. “You may not be able to see it, but there's a big stream of data going out of your house through your ISP. It's foolish to rely on ISPs to protect us from their own interests or the government's interests in us."
And it's that second party's interests that send the deepest shivers down most folks' spines.
“I've even heard stories that some ISPs are reselling anonymous data about their traffic,” Harper adds. “Won't that suck if we find out the anonymized data they've been selling can be de-anonymized and re-identified.”
Can you trust your ISP? Don't be so sure.