Ways to Safeguard Your Online Privacy

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Here at Free Market Capital, we are big proponents of personal liberty and self determination without the coercive arm of big brother watching your every move. 

It was once suspected that our governments were spying on us secretly. With the revelations made by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013, we now should all be aware of the fact that the NSA pretty much watches our every move and even shares that information across borders with other countries, and many of them in-turn share their information with the NSA.

If you are not aware of this fact, you need to at least watch the recently released, on DVD, Oliver Stone movie entitled "Snowden". In it, we learned about Edward Snowden and all the things the NSA was doing through programmers like himself in order to spy on ordinary citizens, track their digital records and store them for a time when they might need them. 


The government is even in cahoots with large companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, where they are sharing your records with the government. They are even able to access the web camera in anyones home to peer inside their house without anyone knowing. Creepy, right?

We believe a man like Edward Snowden to be a modern day hero, yet he is being hunted down for espionage. What did he do exactly? He alerted the people of his country that their own government is spying on them and keeping records of every mouse click, every purchase, every email, every phone call. He just told us the truth.

Another NSA whistleblower and the agencies former Technical Director, William Binney had this to say:

It was around 2003 when they started putting optical fibers coming into the US through Y-connector Narus devices. Basically these would duplicate the data coming across the Internet—one set of packets would go the normal route, the other set would go to NSA facilities.

There, they collect all the data coming in through fiber optics, reassemble all the data packets into useable information– emails, file transfers, etc. and then pass it along for storage.

That means they are taking all that data off the fiber optic lines at 20 main convergence points in the US, collecting almost all of the Internet traffic passing through the US. This gets them pretty much control over the digital world.”

And that was 14 years ago. I'm sure things have improved since then.

Most powerful governments don't want their citizens to know the truth, they want to keep their power and to do that, they generally need to keep people in the dark.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny." Sadly, we have now come to a time where the people are afraid of their government, especially now that they track everything we do.

But I have nothing to hide, why should it matter? Say most ignorant people in the west. If that is the case then free speech is not important either because you have nothing important to say. 

The problem is, it creates a power imbalance, where they know everything about you and you know very little about them. Those who have the most power should have the least amount of privacy and the maximum amount of transparency.

When a government doesn't trust its citizens, it spies on them and destroys a free society. We advocate free markets and to have that you have to have a free society, one devoid of tyranny and the prying eyes of the elites in power over us.

We have outlined several ways you can protect your browsing habits, financial records, file sharing, your computer and mobile use and ultimately your communication from the prying eyes of your neighbours, an abusive spouse, an inquisitive boss, hackers and even your own government. 

We've only included the ones that would be very easy and simple to use on a daily basis. If it is too complicated, you won't use it for very long. Many of these ideas came from the Godfather himself, Edward Snowden.

Phone & Messaging

Probably the first line of defence for most people would be their phone and instant messaging security. Thankfully enough, this is quite easy to manage.

Open Whisper Systems has developed a free smartphone app called Signal (for iOS and Android). It will prevent anyone who might be listening or tracing your communication to not be able to read or understand it.

Hard Disk

Encrypting all of the files on your hard disk is an important factor in protecting your privacy. Here are a few ways that might help you prevent an adversary from prying into your life more than you would like them to.

BitLocker for Windows is generally the best way to encrypt on a Microsoft Windows device.

The built in FileVault in OSX is actually a very safe tool you can use to encrypt the files on your hard disks.

If you are on Linux, you will need to set your hard disk to encrypt when you install Ubuntu. You can not do it afterwards, sadly.

Password Management

Passwords are difficult because most people use a variation of a single password for most of the websites they connect to in order to remember them. So your Gmail account might be the same password you use to view your bank statements or your Facebook account.

You can use a password manager to ensure every website will have a unique password without you needing to remember a million passwords.

KeyPassX is a great open source tool you can use to do just that. It doesn't store your files in the cloud, but it encrypts them locally on your hard disk. It is also cross platform so it should work on any computer.

Browser

Most modern web browsers are easily traceable. They even store a history of your browsing habits so anyone who has access to your computer can see everything you looked up previously. Thankfully there's Tor Browser. It will prevent you from leaving a trace when you visit any website.

Search Engine

Another useful tool to remain private when you are using a search engine is DuckDuckGo. It claims to be, "the search engine that doesn't track you". It is quite fast and very comparable to Google, other than the fact that it doesn't record your search habits.

Email

Proton Mail is a great service that encrypts all of your incoming and outgoing mail. You can even connect your custom domain to it, so you don't have to change your email account. It's servers are located in Switzerland where privacy is a big concern and protected under Swiss laws.

File Sharing

Dropbox is a wonderful file sharing service that encrypts your files on their servers. The problem is, they hold the decryption keys and can decrypt all of your files whenever they want. Their privacy policy also states they will share your information with the government when they come asking for it.

Don't fret, if you encrypt your files before they make it to Dropbox's servers, you can counteract that. A great way to do this is using AxCrypt, it offers nearly unbreakable file encryption. If any government does retrieve your files from Dropbox, you can rest assured they will only see gibberish.

You simply run your files through AxCrypt before you upload them to DropBox and use AxCrypt to decrypt them as well. It's actually not that difficult.

Financial

Bitcoin, Bitcoin, Bitcoin. We love bitcoin, its the decentralized crypto currency that you should look more into. No prying eyes can track your bitcoin usage except for you. Every Bitcoin transaction is encrypted and secret. it's also a great way to protect your money from the inevitable government instituted inflation of your local fiat currency. 

Many alternative financial groups say you should keep 5% of your portfolio in crypto currencies in order to protect your assets from inflation.

It may also be a great way for you to transfer some of your wealth into another currency without having to pay the enormous bank fees. You could simply buy some bitcoins and sell them in another currency. In fact one crypto is setup for that specifically, Ripple. They claim to allow banks to send low cost, real-time payments around the globe instantly. We'll see if it takes off.

We suggest sticking with Bitcoin for now, as it has the best track record so far.

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Let us know if we missed anything on this list. We would love to hear what has worked for you.


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Those who nourish the hope that it will be possible to keep central government free of the corrupting tendencies of power and to staff it with a freedom-loving elite, overestimate the virtues of both the electorate and the elected, and underestimate the normative power of structural processes even over well-intended functionaries.

- Robert Nef