Little Known Steps to Boosting Your Privacy NOW

The feds want to put our electronic lives, which today is almost the same as saying our daily lives, into permanent lock down. Today, Independent Living News is prepared to share steps you can use to gain an added degree of privacy and anonymity in your electronic life. Use these steps as you see fit, and share them with others.

FBI Pushes for an Internet Back Door:

The rapid decline in the use of hard-wired phones is bad news for eavesdropping FBI wiretappers. So according to CNET, the FBI has been looking for a new way to snoop on your conversations – a “plan to force surveillance backdoors on social networks, VoIP, and Web e-mail providers.” CNET also reports that “the bureau is asking Internet companies not to oppose a law making those backdoors mandatory.”

NSA and Military Seek Secret Powers to Run Private Electronic Networks:

These agencies want the authority to take over and run private computer networks, according to reports in the Washington Post. In the report, officials assured they would only use this authority in “rare” security occasions and be very careful when they do. That’s cold comfort in light of how irresponsible and imprudent they are with so many other powers.

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Renewed for 5 years:

This act enables the feds free reign to eavesdrop on foreign communications with no oversight and no transparency. The problem is when Americans communicate with the outside world, our own private communications get scooped up in the wide surveillance net. National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower, Bill Binney, estimates the agency has grabbed 20 trillion transactions between U.S. citizens.

Data Collecting Through Social Media Becoming Even More Invasive:

  • The social media company Twitter released its first transparency report in 2012. The U.S. government took the lead as the most overbearing. Its User Information Requests and User/Accounts Specified far outnumbered the other 22 countries in the report, combined. And Twitter complied with 75% of the requests.
  • Google has published its transparency report since 2009 and in each 6-month reporting period, the number of User Information Requests and User/Accounts Specified by the feds has escalated. In the most recent report from June 2012, Google complied 90% of the time on 7,969 User Information Requests and 16,281 User/Accounts Specified. By comparison, the majority of the other 30 countries in their report have less than 200 User Information Requests and User/Accounts Specified!
  • Finally, Facebook accumulated, collected, and organized specific customer information into a big database and handed it over to the Obama reelection campaign. In other words, the feds got dossiers on millions of Americans with nothing to hide.

Is There Anything
You Can Do?

We may not be able to directly affect policy or legislation on our own, but you can take personal steps to stay ahead of 99% of the general population. Awareness is the first step. Knowing the potential threats to your privacy leaves you less gullible and makes you a smaller target.

For instance, many people live and breathe on Google’s vast array of products: Mail, online documents, voice communication, search, maps, and social networking through the G+ platform. Break up those services. Use another webmail provider like Yahoo, Zoho.com, Hushmail.com, or the dozens of others.

Also, don’t log in to use Google if you don’t have to. It only records what you do when you’re logged in. Some services like watching YouTube videos, using maps, searching the Internet work without logging in. You can also use online services domiciled in pro-privacy jurisdictions like Switzerland or Norway. This may give you an additional layer of respite from the nosy feds. Do an online search for companies in those countries offering the services you need.

The cover story for all this privacy stealing is security, safety, and making law enforcement’s job easier. And, of course, the central government pleads with us to trust it because it will never abuse its limitless power and only use it for good… We can’t fall for that one. Be ever ready.