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Welcome to our inaugural "sound smart(er)" item, where we simply explain a tech term so you can impress your friends. Today's term, VPN, is extremely timely given the Trump's recent signing of a bill overturning privacy rules designed to keep Internet service providers from selling your data without your permission.

What it is: VPN is an acronym for Virtual Private Network and is a piece of software designed to create an encrypted tunnel between two points on the internet so your browsing history is both secure and private.

Why it matters: VPNs have long been used to ensure secure connections to businesses or to obfuscate one's location, often to access content limited to a certain location (think streaming video). With Congress' rollback of the recent FCC rules, ISPs can continue to sell data about your browsing habits without your opt-in consent. Using a VPN will limit your ISPs' visibility into your online activities in the first place.

Downside: If you're using a VPN, you may not be able to access all the services you want, namely video streaming services like Netflix or Hulu that need to know where your IP address is coming from for content licensing purposes.

How you get one: There are plenty of VPN services out there, most of which charge a monthly or yearly fee. Tor, a free service, can be used to anonymize browsing without setting up a formal VPN, but rerouting your traffic through multiple servers can slow down your connection speeds and access to some websites.

Go deeper

Updated 17 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden calls Fox News reporter a "stupid son of a b---h" on hot mic

President Biden blasted Fox News' Peter Doocy on Monday after the reporter asked if the nation's soaring inflation is a political liability, saying, "what a stupid son of a b----h."

The latest: The president called Doocy Monday evening, the reporter told Fox's Sean Hannity. "He cleared the air and I appreciated it. We had a nice call," Doocy said when asked whether the president apologized, adding: "I don't need anyone to apologize to me."

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

Mike Pompeo shells out for media makeover

Via "Fox News Sunday"

Mike Pompeo's political action committee spent $30,000 on media training from last March to June — the most on any service beyond payroll during the first six months of 2021.

Why it matters: The former secretary of State hasn't just been losing weight but working to hone his media skills amid speculation about a possible presidential run, records show.