Can I Ask My ISP for Internet History?

ISPs keep a record of your online activities, but they probably won't share it

What to Know

  • You can't get your browsing history from your ISP, but there are other ways to view your search history and protect your privacy online.
  • The U.S. government mandates that ISPs keep records of customers' internet history for at least 90 days.
  • If you don't want your ISP (or the government or hackers) to track your internet history, invest in a virtual private network (VPN).

This article explains why you can't, generally speaking, obtain your browsing history from your ISP.

Can I Ask My ISP for My Internet History?

While it's true that your ISP tracks your internet history, most ISPs will not give out this information, even to the customer. Nonetheless, it never hurts to ask. The only way to know for sure is to check with your provider.

What is an ISP?
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Can My ISP See My Internet History?

Your ISP keeps records of the websites you visit and the files you download. All ISPs have a privacy policy explaining how customer data is used, stored, and secured. Depending on how the website is encrypted (whether through HTTP or HTTPS), your ISP may only be able to see the domain names of sites you visit, or they might see the entire URL.

Most ISPs claim to keep your data confidential, so no one is actively reviewing your internet history. However, if asked for records from the government, they must comply with law enforcement. For example, there have been cases of ISP records being used to prosecute online piracy.

If you don't want your ISP to track your internet history, look into getting a virtual private network (VPN), which disguises your IP address to protect your privacy online.

How Long Does an ISP Keep Browsing History?

In the United States, the Electronic Communication Transactional Records Act of 1996 requires internet service providers to maintain all customer records for at least 90 days. The requirement is even longer in some other countries. It's common practice for ISPs to discard most of that data after this time, although they may keep records related to billing.

Review your ISP's privacy policy to ensure your data isn't being sold to third parties for marketing purposes.

How Do I Check My Internet Service History?

Although your ISP most likely won't hand over your internet history, there are ways to check your browser's search history. If you have children, consider downloading some parental control software to prevent kids from seeing adult sites. If you're concerned about mysterious online purchases appearing on your account, you should contact your bank.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can parents ask their ISP for their children's browsing history? It depends. As with requesting an ISP for your browsing history, most ISPs will not give out this information, but it doesn't hurt to ask. If parents are concerned about their child's browsing history, they could opt to view browsing history on the web browsers on their devices.
  • How do you hide your internet history from your ISP? There are several ways to obscure your internet history from your ISP. You can use a private browser such as Tor, use a VPN to bypass the ISP, or use the HTTPS Everywhere browser extension to increase web browser security.
  • Can ISPs sell your internet history? It depends on where you live. In the U.S., ISPs can collect and sell non-identifying data. If you're concerned, Apple and Cloudfare are proposing a new DNS standard that would bypass your ISP so it wouldn't be able to see and sell your history.
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