Big Brother is watching you, And it’s not a surprise for anyone at this point. Ever since the NSA Whistleblower, Edward Snowden, leaked the information revealing the massive scale of government surveillance that is conducted on the citizens, by NSA in the case of the U.S. and GCHQ in case of the UK, the realization hit, that a good portion of people’s digital lives are under constant surveillance by the people up top, and while majority were already largely aware of this, the idea lurking in the back of the head somewhere, the in-your-face revelation made it official. But given the fact that the majority of people are less-than-likely to give up the luxuries that the internet provides, the society accepted that as a new reality of their lives and went along with their day-to-day activities, after all, who’s willing to give up those addictive Facebook likes?
But there are still some of us that would rather keep our search histories and our private messages are hidden away from the likes of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. If you are one such person, and you know that your beauty sleep would be less affected knowing that some of your digital life is being nicely stored away from government prying eyes, then there are a couple solutions out there for the likes of you and me, who like to keep our privacy and civil liberties more secure. Without further ado, let’s delve into a number of tech solutions that provide us with the ability to keep our personal information more secure and out of the hands of data traders, hackers, spying government agencies or that one clingy ex that just won’t leave you alone.
First and foremost, get yourself a VPN
Chances are you have already heard about Virtual Private Networks or VPNs for short, likely from a random Ad on youtube telling you all about it, if you somehow managed to avoid the information on VPNs, as unlikely as that may be, then we shall quickly go over the basics of VPN just for you. Basically, what VPNs do is alter your IP address, encrypting your web searching keeping it hidden from the Internet Search Provider, or ISP for short. Even more basically, the ISP is usually the first thing you connect to when you first open up your browser, and it is what connects to all the consecutive websites that you go on searching when you are surfing the web. Given the role of ISP in your everyday web searches, they have direct access to your entire web traffic, which they can view at a moment’s notice, and if they can do so, so can any other government agency eager to see what you have been browsing.
If this thought makes you uncomfortable, worry not, for the VPN is here for the rescue. When you turn on the VPN during your web-search, it replaces you UP with a different one, usually of your own choosing, tricking the ISP into thinking that you are accessing the internet from elsewhere. And with this easy trick, your web traffic is safely hidden away from anyone willing to have a look at it.
But keeping your personal search queries safe and sound is just half of the benefits that VPNs bring about. Given that the VPN provided IP can be located anywhere in the world, this effectively means that the regional restrictions on online services are now effectively gone. So if you are in Portugal and want to watch the Mandalorian on disney+, just power up your VPN and enjoy the show.
The situation in Norway is a bit more dire, as the government has been pursuing the policy of undermining gambling within the country, severely restricting access to online casinos in the entirety of Norway. Norwegians who wish to try their fortune with a nice game of poker or baccarat are thus relegated to using secondary means to access and play on various online gambling platforms, Campobet being the most prominent among them, like VPNs, cryptos and digital wallets.
The online gambling industry has been quite supportive of its international gaming-community, with a range of multilingual products being released that support multi-currency systems.
Get yourself an Encrypted Email
A good portion of our communication today happens through emails, be it personal, work or business emails. And unsurprisingly it serves as a goldmine for personal data. What encrypted emails do, is they completely take out the third party from the equation of sending and receiving emails, ensuring privacy in your communication.
While the options were quite limited not so long ago, being mainly relegated to PGP, today, the rising demand is supplemented by a variety of choices for email encryption, with a wide range of services and niche features offered by different providers. If you want to keep it old school, you can still find and set up PGP, but the hassle is not really worth it unless you have a nostalgic attachment to it. For easy access to encrypted emails, you can go with tons of other options available on the market, such as ProtonMail, which offers complete end-to-end encryption as a basic package, with minimal effort for setting it up. While a good choice for casually ensuring your communication privacy, if you require a high-end security communication channel, being a political activist or a journalist, it may not fully cover your security requirements, so you may want to look into other means of ensuring your data privacy.
Get yourself an Encrypted Messenger
Alongside encrypted emails, why not go full secure and set up an encrypted messaging app as well? Similarly to the demand for encrypted emails, the demand for encrypted messaging is on the rise, due to rising consciousness on the importance of privacy. Needless to say, the demand was swiftly addressed by the market, with most popular messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, iMessage and Messenger app now offering end-to-end encryption to their users. While this ensures that the government is kept out of your personal communication channels, the providers of these services, those being Apple and Facebook, still have direct access to your messages and this may not sit completely well with some of us.
Luckily for you and me, there are other options out there, offering dedicated encryption on direct communication through Open Whisper Systems, or OWS for short. What OWS does, it ensures that the messaging apps using it says Signal, for example, are themselves locked out of your communications, and if the provider doesn’t have access to your DMs, well then nobody does. If you have any doubts, regarding encrypted messengers, well maybe the endorsement of Signal by the whistleblower – Edwar Snowden himself will give you more assurance.
Lastly, get yourself some tape
While we talk about all the high-end state-of-the-art technologies ensuring your privacy, let’s not forget about the classic solution of simply putting a piece of tape over your camera and microphone, after all, it is the easiest, fastest and cheapest solution of all. For those still oblivious to the change that a simple piece of tape can make, know this, among the information leaked by Snowden, there was a good portion dedicated to how the government can access your hardware and turn on your cameras and microphones, with you being completely unaware of it, so better be on the safe side, and tape up your laptops a bit, after all, if it is good enough for Mark Zuckerberg, it is good enough for you.