Protect your online privacy

Being anonymous whilst surfing on the internet. Why and how?

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INTRODUCTION: I have nothing to hide and am an honest person (yeah, really). In principle I don't care if the government records my calls and spies on my internet surfing. And yet, I am very, very afraid... a new law forces my internet provider and my telephone company to keep records of my internet and calling behaviour for at least a year. Why am I afraid? Well, let's take the case where telephone company TalkTalk (UK) was hacked (three times so far) and financial data from their customers was sold on the black market internet forums within 48 hours. The hackers ran away with all data including the names, addresses, birth dates, email addresses and credit card information. And what about the celebrity photo hack where hundreds of private (mostly nude) photo's of celebs leaked online. A webshop where I purchased several goods was hacked last month and I received an email from them saying that they were very sorry but that my private information and shopping behaviour was stolen by hackers. Last year NASA and the FBI were hacked as well. Who can or will guarantee me that all that information about the websites I visit and calls I make (to whom and when) won't be stolen by hackers?

There's a lot of buzz going on lately about things other people, ad agencies, the government and Hackers have on you. Not simple things like your name, address and telephone number, email address and so on. But more specific what type of person you are (or they think you are) by collecting the names of the websites you visit, the trips you planned or countries you are interested in and the persons and companies you send email to (or receive from). The revelations of Edward Snowden played a huge part in this, obviousely. It isn't a secret that certain organisations and entities are very active with so called 'data mining' and 'profiling'. Should that be considered a problem? What do I care if some or many people or organisations know I love Bossa Nova music, that I like visiting world cities and that some friends of mine are party animals. But what if my grandmother asks me to lookup some information on arthritis? And what if one of my friends gets involved with dodgy characters? Suddenly this becomes quite serious, since my profile will immediately be changed (and not for the better). But since I am a simple, honest law abiding citizen I should obviously not have to worry. But what about identity theft? And my bank accounts? And what if one of these profilers makes a mistake? What if it's OK to love Bossa Nova music today, but there's a change of political system in my country with a new ruler disliking South American music to the extend that he or she wishes to get rid of me or make my life miserable? What if some dictator came into power in let's say five years? Wouldn't they simply love all the datamining that went on over the years? Far fetched you say? Am I going too fast? Sure. Well, I hope so. This won't happen will it? And what about the targeted ads for things you looked up on the internet in the past few weeks? Don't you care? Great!

Okay, there have been many articles in the press about ordinary citizens (working for the government or private surveillance) misusing private information of people (spying on relatives, ex-wifes, neighbours, and celebrities) and were these merely a few exceptions? Did it stop? Also, obviously there's a lot of money involved with violating one's privacy and there's not much you can do about that. You can't hide or can you? Or can you? I personally believe my personal information is valuable, even dow I have nothing to hide (people who disagree about privacy issues will argue that I have a lot to hide, which isn't fair in a sense because it will be very difficult to prove I'm right). I respect people who say they don't care, consider themselves not important enough and who love targeted ads. But I prefer not to share my preferred web sites, income and tax information, medical history, dietary habits and so on. This doesn't mean I'm up to anything not right. Too many people associate an urge for privacy with illicit activities while there are so many good, solid & logical reasons to keep your personal stuff your own: maybe you don't want advertisers looking over your shoulder and keep track of your online behaviour. Maybe you just don't fancy the idea of someone somewhere writing down where you go and what you do. And what about surfing in public places like coffee shops, hotels, library's and so fort? Would you like to be 100% sure nobody is snooping on you? Or is planning identity theft. Or stealing your password and bank account information?

There are many ways to become and stay anonymous on the net. One of them is using a so called VPN (virtual private network). After reading some articles about VPN providers I decided to try some out. Many VPN providers offer a free trial (which is a great offer) and those who didn't I paid for a month's subscription. In the end I decided to go with NordVPN (they have a great $ 36.00 1 year offer with up to six simultaneous connections, tor, etc. Click one one of the ads on this page and you will be redirected to the right page). I put up some links to them and yes, became one of their affiliates. You will notice I do not link to other VPN providers and take note I certainly didn't test all of them, meaning that this doesn't mean other VPN providers are crap! I became an affiliate of NordVPN because I am very happy with their services and been using them for a long time. First I was a customer, and then I became an affiliate. Visit the NordVPN website for more information about their services or click on the ad for the special offer. USE COUPON CODE 2YSpecial2018.

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How does it work?

I downloaded a program at their website (there are versions for Windows, Android and Mac), installed it. Launched the program, filled in my login name and password and picked a country. From that moment on you are an anonymous person from that country. Period. Oh yes, you can switch countries as much as you like, have up to six devices using the service simultaneously and it should work for torrents as well (don't ask me how that works but use their amazing service desk chat to find out if you're into that).

Protect your privacy online

What is VPN?

Wikipedia says this: A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network, such as the Internet. It enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network, and thus benefit from the functionality, security and management policies of the private network. A VPN is created by establishing a virtual point-to-point connection through the use of dedicated connections, virtual tunnelling protocols, or traffic encryption.

What is a VPN service provider?

Techopedia says: Besides providing a private network connection, a VPN service provider also provides end users with proxy servers to access restricted websites/content and to protect their identity. VPN service providers enable end users to access restricted content or any website anonymously without disclosing their location and identity.

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Article 12 of the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference (one who agrees with this article isn't a bad person or someone who has something to hide).