The more time we spend online, the more important it is to protect our privacy online, be it our identity, our data, etc. Many people regularly use VPNs and avoid social media, making sure they don’t overshare, while others choose not to take any extraordinary measures at all. To what extent do you protect your online privacy?
Sayak explains “protecting your online privacy is absolutely essential if you want to avoid surveillance by ISPs, ad marketers, corporations, and even big government.” He recognizes that we all leave graces online. One of his banks checked his online profile recently, “and I’m sure it wasn’t to offer me employment!” He’s also been in Middle-East countries where “ISPs have to implement government-approved firewalls to monitor the websites you visit.” He notes it’s impossible to survive there without using a VPN.
Additionally, he never uses Facebook or Google’s oAuth mechanism to log in to any third-party website, noting that if you care about privacy, you shouldn’t be lazy and create accounts in that manner. He suggests using a temporary email if you won’t be using that website again. He also deletes his Google archives and browsing data frequently.
Miguel says “as long as the State knows nothing about my earnings, I am fine.” He doesn’t care about keeping other information private, has no incriminating subscriptions, and has onion email for anything that could look bad, especially if he is “performing investigations on the dark web.” Like Sayak, he also doesn’t use Facebook’s identity service but does trust Google’s oAuth unless it’s something that reaches a certain level of sensitivity. Regarding trying to remain “invisible” on the Web, he’s “too late for that party,” as anyone can Google his name, find things he’s writing, etc.
Ryan reads the privacy agreements for any service he uses, though he recognizes not many others do. He knows you can opt out of a surprising amount of data collection. “Granted, many websites and services don’t exactly advertise how to do it, but with a little effort,” you can figure it out. He’s also connected to a VPN at all times and uses a privacy-focused browser like Firefox Focus and search engines that value privacy such as Duck Duck Go.
Alex doesn’t use Facebook and uses DuckDuckGo for search and Firefox or Vivaldi for Web browsing. “Basically, if I can avoid giving a multinational corporation more power in my life, I will, but only to a certain degree.” As an example, he doesn’t run Linux as a primary OS, as it’s too tedious to make it work properly. With privacy often the opposite of convenience, he finds there are certain situations, such as email services, where he just can’t be bothered to deal with it.
Andrew is definitely a big advocate for online privacy but not really naive about it. He uses Firefox, Brave, and Vivaldi with a full suite of privacy extensions but also uses Google services, has a Facebook account, buys things from Amazon, participates in the global financial system, and has an active online personality. He could use VPN and TOR and take other precautions, but he uses the Internet to help run his life more smoothly.
Yet he also encourages people to think and care about online privacy, not because an encrypted email service and a news browser will keep you off the grid, “but because the greater the demand for it, the more supply will rise to meet the demand.” He points to things such as Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal and people being creeped out by Google scanning emails to serve them ads, noting people have to “keep making a fuss” about privacy and supporting services and apps that provide it.
Like Miguel, I’m too late to the party. There’s already a large enough profile of me out there. I’ve been online since the beginning and was never shy about it and have been writing online since 2003. And I’m a news writer, so constantly googling for information. I browse so many different things it’s not really related to me, per se. There’s even another Laura Tucker online who is a writer. But after the Facebook scandals, I stopped using it as a way to sign into third-party services. I also live by the thought that if someone wanted to find something out about me that badly, there isn’t much I could do to stop them.
What do you do for online privacy? Do you use a VPN, stay off social media, use browsers that allow you to browse anonymously, etc? To what extent do you protect your online privacy? Let us know what you do in the comments section below (that is if you’re not too worried about your privacy to do so).
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