Privacy means no information about you or your life is available to anybody without your consent. It’s a fundamental human right, but one that’s constantly in peril, as your personal information can be used to control and profit off you. Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to accidentally give that information up. You can read our roundup of online privacy laws here.
Where Is Privacy Online?
You may think your privacy is safe if you conduct all your sensitive business behind closed doors in your own home. When you’re online, though, actions that seem perfectly private may actually be visible to all sorts of third-party interests.
For starters, there’s the stuff you might share inadvertently. Answering an innocuous question on Facebook, responding to a seemingly legitimate email, or simply browsing certain websites can reveal important information others can use against you.
There are also times when we trust another entity to keep our privacy safe, only to have them fall asleep on the job. Websites with lax security often get hacked, dumping their users’ private credentials and information on the dark web for anyone to snap up. It’s become increasingly unwise to entrust your privacy to anybody else without taking precautions.
We even face threats to our online privacy when everything is going perfectly. Advertisers can use our cell phones to figure out our real-life locations, and cookies can track our searches to build a profile on you without you ever finding out. That’s to say nothing of countries where the government itself is more interested in power than in citizens’ right to privacy.
How to Ensure Your Privacy
How do we fight back against a world determined to violate our privacy? You’ve already taken the first step just by being here. The people who want your private information rely on your passive consent to maintain their profits and power. At Privacy Journal, we’ve committed to telling you what they don’t want you to know.
The fact is that taking steps to secure your online privacy is relatively easy, and can even be done without paying a cent. It’s all about learning to use the tools at your disposal. Your own understanding is one of those tools — we’ll sharpen your privacy knowledge by helping you spot traps and threats.
Our most-recommended method to ensure your online privacy is to use a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs use encryption and proxy servers to hide your IP address, removing the “digital fingerprint” that identifies you as a person online.
Without a public IP address, it’s much harder for your internet service provider (ISP) or anyone else to track you online.
Ad blockers play an important role. These browser extensions don’t just block annoying activity on pages we’re trying to read — they also stop the cookies and scripts that gather information on our browsing history and activities.
Password managers are also vital, letting users employ far stronger passwords that are harder for hackers to guess.
Privacy can feel overwhelming, but protecting your fundamental rights is worth it. With just a little work, you can ensure nobody is misusing your personal information online, and finally enjoy your favorite sites without fear.