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Use this tool to make your browsing history worthless, now that ISPs can sell your data

Published Mar 30th, 2017 12:43PM EDT
browsing history bill
Image: Razor512

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With the decision by the US government to roll back privacy protections for citizens and allow companies to log, market, and sell the internet browsing histories of their customers, the people are looking for ways to fight back. A new web tool called RuinMyHistory could help, by effectively polluting your web browsing history with fake “visits” to over a hundred different websites, but does it actually work?

RuinMyHistory first popped up via a Reddit post titled “In protest of the new privacy bill, I created RuinMyHistory, which will pollute your search history,” published by the tool’s creator. The idea behind RuinMyHistory is that, if your internet service provider is indeed logging your site visits so that they can sell the data later, packing the history with visits to sites you don’t actually care about will make the information essentially worthless.

The tool is just a webpage that produces a pop-up which cycles through dozens and dozens of different websites. Currently it pulls its site list from the 100+ most popular websites on the internet, according to Alexa rankings. A new site pops up every few seconds before switching to the next, never interacting with any item on the screen, and the tool can be run on a tab or minimized window so that you don’t even realize it’s there.

It certainly seems like it could help foil an ISP’s plans of selling browsing data, but many are skeptical. There’s no shortage of commenters on Reddit and elsewhere that say the tool does little more than waste bandwidth and potentially slow down your computer with constant webpage loading. Their argument is that the sites the tool visits are so predictable, occurring at regular intervals, and include such popular domains that they could easily be filtered out completely.

What’s more, loading pages like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and the other super web properties on the tool’s browsing list might be completely pointless to begin with, as any advertiser looking to buy data from your ISP will certainly assume those sites are popular to begin with. In that case, they’d probably only be interested in the browsing habits unique to the user, which will stand out like a sore thumb against the flood of fake traffic.

Of course, this is an early release and there’s little doubt that the tool will be updated with new features moving forward.