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Pornhub's Encryption Won't Save Us From Internet Privacy Rollback, But Congress May Get Their Comeuppance

By Dustin Rowles & Steven Lloyd Wilson | Politics | March 31, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles & Steven Lloyd Wilson | Politics | March 31, 2017 |

Congress passed a bill earlier this week rolling back Internet privacy restrictions passed by President Obama that would have prohibited ISPs from collecting user data and using it for marketing and advertising purposes. Although the rollback is deeply unpopular among Internet users, the White House supports it and expects to sign the bill.

It’s so unpopular, in fact, that it has sparked outrage in the number one Trump fan community on the Internet, Reddit’s r/The_Donald subreddit.

In the meantime, the Internet is bracing for the privacy rollback, beginning with the world’s most popular porn website, Pornhub, and its sister site, YouPorn. The two sites will turn on HTTPS by default across its domains starting on April 4th. The encryption will block ISPs from being able to see what specific pages users visit, but as Steven Lloyd Wilson explains, it’s not all that helpful. It is no silver bullet.

Having encryption on will prevent your ISP from seeing the exact requests you make to a server, but they still know what server you are hitting, by virtue of the traffic being passed through them. And if you are using your ISP’s DNS server (hint: if you don’t know what that means, then you are) then your ISP still knows the domain that you’re going to. So yeah, having encryption on means your ISP doesn’t know you’re searching for “grandpa sweat porn” but they know you’re going to Pornhub. And how many times you hit it and for how long. Phrasing.

Not that it’s not MORE private, but your ISP selling the fact that you spend six hours a day on Pornhub is still pretty damned invasive regardless.

In other words, encryption can prevent ISPs from knowing exactly what you are doing from page to page, but not what websites you are visiting.

It’s too late now to stop this bill, but if there’s one person who may be able to encourage Congress to rethink it and figure out a way to undo it in the near future, it’s Max Temkin, one of the creators of Cards Against Humanity. If not that, at least he can get revenge on those Congress people who passed it.

In retaliation for passing the bill, Temkin has vowed to purchase and publish the online browsing history of every member of Congress and their aides.

We may soon find out if those evangelical Republicans who won’t spend time alone with women who aren’t their wives spend time alone with women (or men) on Pornhub, although I guess we won’t find out their particular kinks, since we won’t be able to determine exactly which pages they visit. So, thanks Pornhub?

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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