The Best Ways to Increase Your Privacy Online
With each day that passes by, and each new technology that is invented, it becomes more and more impossible to keep your life on this earth private. Even if you think your online experience is safe from the government, your messages are probably being read by a government employee right now as you read this.
The truth is, the idea of privacy is quickly becoming more and more of a distant dream than a reality. But there are several ways that you can increase your privacy so that your information is more secure. Read on to learn more about privacy, the lack of it in your life, and what you can do to restore some of it.
Quit Social Media
Unfortunately, there is no safe form of social media. When it came out a few years ago that Facebook was tracking its users from its app, whether the app was opened or closed, it became straight spyware directly in the pocket of all of its millions of users. And when many people began moving to a new platform, Instagram, Facebook didn’t let it happened and ultimately purchased the platform.
While the Instagram app doesn’t quite track you the way the Facebook app does, if you’ve agreed to the new terms and conditions of the app (which if you’ve used it since January 15, 2021 you have by default) you’ve agreed that Instagram owns your username. This means if you become famous, they OWN your name and you can’t even get a website with your username in the URL because Instagram owns it. Not to mention that they are still connected with Facebook and that doesn’t really instill confidence in many users as to whether or not they are being tracked.
Switch to Signal Messaging
Signal messaging, which is an app for your iPhone, is the only truly reasonable private messaging currently available on the market. This is because several messaging apps, most notably Facebook Messaging, offer no form of encryption on their services. This means that anyone can read your messages if they are able to hack the system. Not only that, but other comparable services like WhatsApp, which offer end to end encryption, are still run by for profit companies that will turn over your chat records to the authorities under a subpoena—so better watch what you say.
Signal on the other hand, is backed by donations and is truly a private way to chat. The messages are encrypted and the data is not stored anywhere. This is so that even if the signal foundation, a nonprofit foundation that monitors the code of the app, wanted to, they couldn’t turn in your chat history to the government. They can only tell them when you were logged in to the app last.
And if you were wondering whether the US government knows this or not, well of course they do, because the government requires all of its employees, including US military contractors to converse using the Signal app. It’s pretty funny when the people who are spying on everywhere are trying to avoid detection themselves. Either way, if Signal is good enough for the US government, that is a huge sign that you should use it too.
Stop Using All Google Products
Alright, everyone loves Google. But if there’s anyone who’s a bigger spy than the US government, it’s Google. And before you try to argue that you’ve disabled cookies on your computer, this doesn’t matter. This is because Google uses something called Universal ID to track its users. Any time you are on Google search engine, and search for something, this is logged directly into a database next to a user number that is unique to you. And even if you go to another website, if you leave the Google tab open, this software will continue to track every click you make.
This means Google knows everything you search for, everything you buy, and if you combine this with their app Google Maps (where you give them access to your location that is again logged next to your Universal ID number) this means that you are being tracked almost every moment of every day by big Google. People were worried about tracking chips in the COVID-19 vaccine, when really, they should be worried about the one that already exists in their pockets!
Now avoiding a Google search is impossible, so consider using a more private search engine like DuckDuckGo instead. Stop using Google Chrome and switch this out for Firefox. And although it can be inconvenient, you need to delete that Gmail address too. There are plenty of open-source email addresses that you will probably like better, Proton Mail being an excellent one. They also offer a VPN service that can help stop Google from tracking and logging your IP information. You should also disable location services on any app on your phone or computer sponsored by Google, and unfortunately this does include YouTube.
Don’t Save Any Information On Sites
You’ve probably done it before, loaded your cart with goodies then went to the checkout screen of a shop that asked you if you want to make an account and save your information for next time. NEVER do this. This is because, when your information is saved by the company, it is put into one of their databases which you don’t know the security of. This means that someone could easily steal your information from that company. This includes addresses and credit card numbers.
However, even just using a site is a risk because they will often put your address into their system to create a shipping label, and this can be an unavoidable breach in security. This is why you should consider paying for a remote address that is not at your house but in a busy shopping center. This way, you are both saving yourself from having packages stolen, as well as having a thief get your information from a website and show up to your house with the intent of robbing it.
Say Goodbye to Your Apple iPhone
Do you love your iPhone? So do many other people. And it’s very convenient when you have an Apple iPad and iMac at home to share all your information across all devices quickly and easily. Although in the past Apple was generally considered more secure than a Google Android phone, all of that is about to change.
On August 6th, 2021, Apple announced a new software that will be released to all iPhones that will scan every phone everywhere for child porn. There will be no way to opt out of this. If you have an iPhone, your phone and images will be scanned. If child pornography images are found on your account, it will be locked and law enforcement will be notified. And if you thought your messages would be safe, not a chance, as those will be scanned as well. Any that could be qualified as child abuse will be queued for review before your account is again locked and law enforcement called.
This software will be part of an update that will deploy later this year on all Apple devices. As of right now, there is no opportunity to opt out, nor is there anything from the US government of this being a blatant violation of privacy rights. So if you don’t want your photos and messages being scanned, it might be time to toss your Apple products in the trash.
Society has gotten to the point where full privacy is no longer a thing. Thanks to the government and these behemoth companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, you are probably tracked almost every minute of every day. However, if you apply the methods outlined on this list, you might be able to retain whatever shred of privacy you may have left.