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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or the modern literal equivalent--without the Internet — you pr...
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or the modern literal equivalent--without the Internet — you probably know that Google, Facebook, and a host of other tech companies are all up in your business. Ever done anything public? A Google-savvy individual can dig it up. Both Google and Facebook also track your web browsing when you’re logged in so they can bombard you with targeted ads. Google is even data mining school computers. The US government can also access your data via Google and Apple, among other companies, while the Chinese government may be implanting malware into ZTE and Huawei products.
Aside from avoiding these giants altogether, how do we stop them from sticking their noses where they don’t belong? The problem is we like the services they provide, even if we hate some of their underhanded and invasive money-making tactics. Searching and social networks are also so ingrained into online life that we often feel we don’t have much choice.
The most effective way to get Big Brother out of your business is to go off the grid and stop using phones and the Internet. Too extreme for you? Here are a few things you can do to minimise government and corporate intrusions when you’re on the web.
1. Support legislation for transparency, accountability, and controls for surveillance technology.
2. Use open-source anti-traffic analysis software like Tor. The more people use it the more secure and private everyone’s communication becomes.
3. Use a prepaid phone or SIM card that is not associated with your name. This may sound like a tip about how to be a better criminal — as all privacy tips can be — but the same principle applies whether you’re up to no good or not. For those who want to be truly data secure, smartphones are a no-go.
4. Install a good firewall and not some pre-packaged one that came with your computer. Check out PC Mag’s list of free firewalls.
5. Browse encrypted sites by inserting an “S” at the end of the “http” part of a website address. This will not work on all sites, but you can easily maximise your encrypted browsing by using browser extensions like HTTPS Everywhere.
6. To request that companies, including Facebook, disable customized ads in your browser go here (you must first pause AdBlock) and opt out of targeted ads from up to 116 sources. Once you’ve opted out, un-pause AdBlock.
7. If you just want to get rid of those targeted ads popping up courtesy of Google, go to your advertisement settings and opt out. You’ll also have to opt out of Google’s advertising cookies by downloading this plugin.
8. To create even more privacy, disable your search history by going to your account history page and pausing all four categories (searches, places, YouTube searches, and things you’ve watched).
9. Use a non-tracking search engine like DuckDuckGo.
10. Pay for things anonymously by buying things with bitcoin. Bitcoin isn’t always an option, but when it is, you can shop “incognito.” Another option is to use stored-value cards or prepaid “credit” cards for additional anonymity.