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How Do You Keep Your Privacy Online?

Internet privacy is a massive hot-button topic all over the world in late 2017, and shows no sign of slowing down. It's well known that for years now certain aspects of being online have been tracked by users or organizations, and understandably, alot of people aren't happy about it. There is a massive range of tracking online, GPS tracking of phones to IP routing to connection monitoring, and barely anyone tells the user that they are tracking them.

The long standing argument that governments use to condone tracking is 'if you have nothing to hide, why do you mind being tracked?'. This is a kind of straw man argument, and it simply does not address that people around the world have a right to privacy. It's that simple.

Understandably, this tracking started with the best intentions; keeping people safe. Anyone looking up bomb schematics and building plans should be kept an eye on, in the interest of public safety, but the line becomes much more blurred after that. Public safety is, in most peoples' opinions, the only reason tracking should occur. But in 2017 people are tracked every day for advertising and targeted attacks, which is far beyond public safety.

Keeping your privacy online will become alot easier for UK and EU residents in May of 2018, when GDPR comes into full effect, but even then there are illegal tracking processes that occur every day for every person online.

Most modern smartphones come with GPS as default, which can supposedly be turned off in the settings. However even by doing this, the location of a smartphone can still be tracked to within around 15m in an urban environment, and around 100m in a rural or remote setting. Triangulation occurs whenever the phone network is in use, and background data is almost always on for smartphones. The only way of avoiding this while still having a phone is to downgrade to a 'burner' and remove the sim when not in use; a far cry from the kind of privacy people desire.

Android even tracks people by Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections, with the largest collection of Named Data Networks on the planet accumulated from users without their permission. It's an intense search to disable these settings, but it can be done. Of course, it can also be turned back on remotely without the users permission, but this only happens with legal investigations or malicious users targeting the user. Still not very private.

Using almost any computer online is traceable, and requires alot of setup to remain private. Social Media has GPS and location services enabled by default, and may require rooting a device to turn this off. There is also Exif data which is traceable, meaning any photo uploaded into an unsecure website can be traced to coordinates and device with only a few clicks.

Even the most commonly used websites like Google track your data, purportedly for SEO purposes, but their tracking reaches another level.

The only easy way to maintain anonymity online through a computer is the use of a 'Tails' bootable drive, and generous use of Tor with 'privateinternetaccess'. Tails uses a micro OS with no tracking or cookies, while Tor is a browser used to access the World Wide Web, Deep Web, or Dark Web. Tor routes all connections through over 150 different IP addresses per second, and is the closest thing to untraceable you can easily achieve. Privateinternetaccess is a VPD service which is the only one in history which is proven to not store logs of any users data, after they refused to comply with an FBI order a few years ago.

Privacy online is hard to come by, but if someone is willing to set up their system for a few hours it can be achieved. The real question is, should this even be necessary?


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