Privacy in America is meant to be a protected inalienable right. It feels like however in this day and age that right is being infringed upon everywhere you look. The biggest intrusion though seems to come from what goes on in the world wide web.
With search engines, email, and social media Big Brother has its grasp on almost all we do online. Many of us are guilty of blindly acknowledging privacy terms and conditions where these companies blatantly spell out what they are doing with the information we provide. Some are selling you data and searches to advertisers because unfortunately when it comes to the Internet when users don’t pay for products they eventually become the products themselves. Your information is also willingly handed over to the government without any due process. As far as they’re concerned they own the content once you acknowledge the consent.
There are alternatives, however that allow you to freely use the internet without feeling trespassed.
1) Proton Mail is a must for anyone who is looking to take their privacy to another level. Yes, I know that nothing is 100% secure, and the FBI, CIA and other nefarious agencies have numerous tools available to access your information, but Proton Mail is by far the most secure FREE email platform on the web. If you’re sick of Google reading and cataloging every email you send you should probably sign up for a free Proton Mail account. Here’s how it works.
2) DuckDuckGo is a search engine that is all about users taking back their privacy. They don’t store your personal information, they don’t follow you around with ads, and they don’t track your online activity. Established in 2008, the company decided to separate themselves from Google, Bing, Yahoo and other prominent search engines by making a bold move not to collect or share any of its user’s personal information. In 2014 they grew to be so successful that Apple began including DuckDuckGo in Safari, with the launch of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. Firefox soon followed when Mozilla added DuckDuckGo as a built-in option to Firefox and Firefox OS.
The company also gives back by donating to other privacy advocacy companies. In 2017 they divided $300,000 and dispersed it equally among sixteen projects including Freedom of the Press Foundation, World Privacy Forum, Open Whisper Systems, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Tor Project and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). This marked the seventh year in a row that the company has made efforts to support these types of organizations.
3) VPN is a Virtual Private Network which is a method used to add security and privacy to private and public networks, like WiFi Hotspots and the Internet.
Over the years I have experimented with many different VPN’s, but at the end of the day I always end up at Private Internet Access where I currently have a one-year subscription. It is very easy to use and offers some of the most competitive prices in the market. Here’s how it works.
4) Unfortunately, Google, just like it dominates, email and search also dominate browsers with the likes of their Chrome extension. But luckily there is an alternative. It is free and very easy to use, even for the novice. It’s called TOR.
Tor software protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.
Tor Browser lets you use the software on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux without needing to be installed . It can run off a USB flash drive, comes with a pre-configured web browser to protect your anonymity, and is self-contained (portable).
5) Ideally, you should refrain from using social media, period. It promotes disturbing effects on your health including addiction, shortened attention spans, stress, and fatigue.
Social media can also be dangerous because people are so willing to divulge such personal and intimate information without a second thought. Even Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg thinks people are dumb f***s for trusting him with their personal information. Facebook tracks everything its users do and is more than willing to sell what they learn to the highest bidder.
For those that keep their social media pages fairly clean the thought of having your every thought, word, and deed potentially used against you should still make you feel uneasy. These sites own everything you post, even if you try to delete specific posts or your profile altogether. If you can’t imagine a life without social media, sites like Seen.Life won’t sell your personal information, and won’t let search engines data mine your posts. Once you delete something on Seen.Life, it’s gone from the site, and they won’t retain it.
There is also the Gab.ai that is not only privacy conscious but also believes in free speech for its users. Considering how much Facebook and Twitter have outwardly admitted to censoring their users, this comes as a breath of fresh air.
We will continue to update this list and provide more options. As more and more people become enraged over online practices, many new platforms are being created.
Here are some other honorable mentions in no particular order that also offer great products or services. Please feel free to add any others in the comment section.
From the backwoods of Michigan, Thomas Dishaw is writer and health hacker. Thomas currently resides outside Philadelphia with his wife and dog. You can support Thomas' work by making a donation below or following him on Instagram. You can reach Thomas via email at email@example.com.