It’s an unfortunate truth that most people in today’s world prioritise convenience over privacy. Services like Google Maps, Google Photos, Facebook & equivalents collect continuous metadata streams on billions of people daily.
We love that GPS can pinpoint our exact location anytime, preventing us from getting lost. We enjoy the convenience of facial recognition software organising our photo albums, allowing for efficient searches. We appreciate the network effect of social media algorithms, recording our political, social, shopping & religious preferences, helping us to meet like-minded people.
After all, We have nothing to hide, so why care about privacy?
Having your every movement recorded via CCTV has become expected normality for those living in cities. Some towns even use facial recognition software, shilling you with the “safety benefits” it provides. With the dawn of cheap home CCTV cameras & “smart doorbells,” the same can be said for most suburban areas. Some people even decide to install Google & Amazon recording devices into their homes, with the potential to record & store your family’s most personal conversations.
Not only have they managed to convince us to install surveillance devices into our homes, they have also managed to make them desirable, getting us to pay for the privelage.KYC3
Well, they can’t see what’s inside my head. Wrong. The rapid evolution of the smartphone is taking away our last haven. The collective intelligence of data stored on your device provides an accurate model of your thoughts, behaviour & ideology. As more services migrate to smartphone applications, this model grows more powerful.
Some only see the convenience benefits that this intrusion into our privacy brings. It’s not until their data is weaponised & used against them that they realise how important their privacy is. Unfortunately for many, this will be too late; they opted to give up their freedoms for the convenience of “free” commercial tools, earning private technology companies billions in the process.
As these companies grow at unprecedented rates, so will their influence over political policy. They hold the keys to vast amounts of metadata on practically every living person’s thoughts & actions, gift-wrapped & ready to sell to the highest bidder. They will frequently fall victim to hacks & leaks, potentially putting their users in harm’s way.
As with all battles, groups of like-minded individuals are fighting back. The privacy conscious, those with the foresight to see the dangers, are doing everything in their power to spread the message & prevent feeding the machine. They take every step possible to prevent personal data from falling into the hands of the enemy & refuse to comply with the narrative, even against the threat of persecution.
They will call us paranoid, criminals & conspiracy theorists, try to restrict our movements & they will, try to push us to the edges of society, into the shadows, damaging even the closest of relationships. They hope we will give in to the pressures & comply, but our community keeps growing stronger. New people with new skills are added to our arsenal daily, bringing with them new ideas & privacy tools. We are on the winning side.
Unfortunately, retaining your privacy is not easy in today’s digital world, so you must be prepared to abandon many of the services you have come to love & rely upon. Achieving total privacy is near impossible and can be a bottomless, time-consuming rabbit hole. There are, however, several things everyone can do to improve online privacy & security dramatically.
- Use privacy focussed mobile operating systems like GrapheneOS.
- Use a Linux-based desktop OS like Fedora Workstation.
- Install privacy focussed web browsers like LibreWolf & Bromite.
- Use Tor Browser when wanting complete anonymity online.
- Always use a VPN, preferably anonymous services that accept bitcoin & Monero, like Mullvad & IVPN.
- Orbot provides a systemwide Android Tor VPN.
- Use unique email addresses for all sign-ups using an anonymous alias service like Simple Login.
- Use strong, unique passwords using tools like Bitwarden. Never use the same password more than once.
- Avoid “free” email suppliers; use encrypted services like Protonmail. Proton also offers privacy-focused cloud storage & calendar services to replace your Google apps.
- Host your own files on an SBC server using tools like DietPi & YunoHost.
- Use anonymous payment methods wherever possible. You can use Monero or learn to use bitcoin privately using tools from Samourai Wallet & RoninDojo.
- Buy vouchers anonymously using bitcoin for popular services & high street stores using sites like Bitrefill.
- Abandon Youtube’s aggressive tracking & annoying adverts by installing privacy-focused YT clients like NewPipe & FreeTube.
- Use application repositories like F-Droid instead of Google Play.
- Use FOSS alternatives to everyday applications you use regularly.
Use the tools available, prioritise your right to privacy over convenience & don’t give in to the pressures. There are privacy-focused alternatives for just about every popular application; it just takes a little time to research.
The benefits of a privacy-rich future may not always be immediately apparent, but as time goes by, it becomes more & more obvious. You never know what is around the corner, so it’s important to remember that once your ID documents & personal details are logged into the databases of commercial companies, they could potentially sit there forever. Your data is just a product to them & at some point, they will either sell it or lose it. Either way, you lose.