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How Long Do Internet Providers Keep My History?

Miklos Zoltan

By Miklos Zoltan . 12 February 2024

Founder - Privacy Affairs

Justin Oyaro

Fact-Checked this


Your Internet Providers keep track of your online activities and are mandated to retain your history and other associated data for a while.

How long they can keep this data usually varies from country to country. Usually, this period may range from 90 days to 3 years.

Let’s look at why your internet providers retain your history for that long!

What Type of History Does My Internet Provider Keep?

The type of information your internet provider keeps from your history depends on the internet provider’s data retention laws and policy.

Usually, internet providers keep telecommunication data, tracking data, and website data. That is, your internet provider keeps a record of the websites you visit, their URLs, the duration of your visit, and the bandwidth used.

Some internet providers can even go ahead and keep a record of the details of the websites you visit. Generally, your internet providers can record all your online activities.

Why do Internet Providers Keep Your History?

Other than data retention laws, the reasons for keeping your history vary from one internet provider to another. Here are the main reasons why they keep your history:

Source of income

Your internet providers know nearly everything you do on the internet. This information is lucrative for businesses to other third parties, such as advertisers or anyone who wants to learn users’ preferences in a specific locale.

Thus, your history is a source of income for your internet provider. When selling this data to third parties, your history is aggregated into non-identifying data.

Other internet providers use this information to exploit their unsuspecting subscribers. This happens when internet providers offer packages such as secure internet or privacy add-ons to their subscribers at a fee to keep their internet safety.

Policing and law enforcement

Your internet provider is a good start for authorities such as the police when looking for a fugitive.

When authorities have a subpoena, internet providers work in conjunction with authorities by providing them with past and even recent data regarding the person of interest.

The history kept by your provider can help the police in profiling and even nabbing a fugitive.

Other authorities, such as those concerned with copyright infringements, also go to internet providers. This is how individuals who torrent pirated content get caught.

Government surveillance

Other arms of the government also use data from internet providers to keep tabs on persons of interest and matters of national security.

Can I Hide My Internet History from My Internet Provider?

Yes, there are several ways you can use to hide your history from your internet provider. However, you cannot hide some information, such as connection details that involve your IP addresses.

To hide your history, use privacy and security tools such as The Onion Router (Tor) and a VPN, and always ensure you use HTTPS on every website.

Check out our roundup of the best VPN providers if you want to pick a VPN.

Can I Ask My Internet Provider for My Internet History?

This depends on your internet provider. Most internet providers don’t give out this kind of information. Even authorities need a subpoena from a court of law to get this information.

Nonetheless, check with your internet provider. They might have a different policy regarding their subscribers.

Does My Internet Provider Delete My History?

Legally, internet providers must delete your history after the stipulated period elapses.

However, this might not be the case. Even if they delete your data, you will have new data if you continue to use the service.

Also, some internet providers may keep your data longer depending on their storage and even the operational cost it covers, for instance, advertisements.


Due to the mandatory data retention laws enforced in many countries, internet service providers must keep your history for a specified time.

If you are a privacy-conscious individual, you can limit the information your internet provider gets from your history. This is by using a VPN anytime you surf the internet.

This article delves into the rationale behind internet service providers’ (ISPs) practice of storing user data, detailing the kinds of information retained and the duration of its storage.

ISPs may log details such as sites visited, specific URLs, the length of time spent on each visit, and the amount of data transferred. The motivations for keeping such data include compliance with law enforcement requests, government monitoring requirements, and revenue generation.

To prevent ISPs from accessing their browsing history, users can employ strategies like using a VPN, Tor network, or ensuring connections are secured via HTTPS. While legal mandates exist for ISPs to erase user data after a specified timeframe, some may hold onto the data for longer based on their storage capabilities and cost considerations.


  • the man

    October 6, 2023 7:38 pm

    why is out private business being recored by an IP not considered an invasion of privacy ??

  • Marcella Leffler

    May 18, 2023 8:38 am

    I agree with the points made in this article and found the information and data cited to be relevant and useful. Your writing style is clear and concise, making the article easy to read and understand. Thank you for sharing your insights with the community.

  • Marcella Leffler

    May 18, 2023 8:38 am

    This article provides a comprehensive overview of the topic and addresses important issues and challenges. I appreciate the thoroughness of your research and the quality of your writing. Thank you for sharing your work with us.

  • Anonymous

    April 3, 2023 3:26 pm

    I have not done anything to break the law but want my browsing history to stay private…

  • Nesra

    March 23, 2023 10:17 pm

    Proton VPN is pretty good. Pay with cash, hook up to tor network, awesome encryption, doesn’t store your data, servers all over, reasonably priced, definitely trust them 100% more than my isp, apps for Linux, iOS, windows, android. You guys don’t even give them a honourable mention.

  • Frank

    February 7, 2023 2:14 am

    Hi Miklos,
    Thank you for the article.
    Have you noticed that the user can import VPN files from inside the Tails operating system software? From the Applications menu at the top, select System Tools, then Settings. Then select the Network tab. It shows “VPN, not set up”. If you click on the plus sign, the user is then prompted to “Import from file”, and is then directed to different directories (i.e., Documents, Downloads, etc.) where the VPN files (presumably, .OVPN files) reside. Have you checked that out? Thanks again.

    • Frank

      February 7, 2023 3:32 am

      Hi Miklos,
      I just tried to import an OVPN file into Tails and got this error message:
      “Cannot import VPN connection. The file XXXX.ovpn could not be read, or does not contain recognized VPN connection information. Error: unknown error”.

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