But even if state-mandated data retention doesn’t come into practice in the U.S., there’s nothing stopping your ISP from logging your data right now. In fact, it’s already happening. As this survey of U.S. ISPs shows, data retention is alive and well, with Time Warner retaining for six months and Verizon for 18 months — AT&T won’t even disclose the length of time. However, currently U.S. ISPs only store information during your subscription period (so they say), and there are some — such as Calyx — that are aiming to offer more privacy-led solutions. That would be impossible if Obama goes the way of the EU.
Thankfully there are ways you can fight back and prevent your data from being stored. There are various privacy platforms available, from the free-to-use Onion Router (TOR), to I2P and commercial VPN services (full disclosure: I work for the privacy VPN service IVPN). It’s also important to stay informed of any changes to the laws around data retention and to get involved in campaigns promoting internet privacy and online freedoms. Visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation website for a good place to start.