This is a collection of the best, mort reputable and generally most acknowledged online privacy guides on the web. They are sorted in alphabetical order to avoid any biases, and each of them contain a short snippet quoted from the respective sites. I have not and will not add privacy guides that are created by VPN “review” sites or other such entities that create content just to spam it with affiliate links. I dare to say that these guides together cover all the bases when it comes to the best privacy practices, OPSEC, and basic online anonymity – even for more advanced users. However, if you think I’m missing a guide, please leave a comment below and I’ll happily review and possibly add it to the list, thank you.
The big five – Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google & Microsoft – have got a stranglehold of our digital life. Not just our digital identities, but almost all of our web experiences are reliant or connected to the technologies of these five companies.
Recently, Daniel Oberhaus from Motherboard and then Kashmir Hill from Gizmodo both experimented by completely “quitting” the Big Five, for four and six weeks respectively. Both of their stories are very insightful and definitely recommended reading for anyone. However, quitting the Big Five is exactly the kind of take on privacy that turns many people off from becoming more privacy aware. I’ve seen this happen time and time again in r/privacy, where people who have just tipped their toes in the world on online privacy and security are getting barraged with comments like “LOL IF YOU’RE NOT USING LINUX YOU’RE SCREWED” and “YOU NEED TO QUIT ALL SOCIAL MEDIA AND DELETE ALL YOUR ACCOUNTS EVERY-WHERE“. But if we as a privacy community would dial back our tone just a bit, I think we could do way more good than what we’re doing right now.
Usually when talking about personal data in the context of increasing (online) privacy, the discussion is revolving around either one or two of the following subjects:
- Limiting or removing as much of your data as possible
- Populating data about you with disinformation
What I see talked about less (or barely at all) is the active management of your online data and the controlled method of data disclosure. Maybe some dismiss this as a no-brainer, but in my opinion there’s some easy and powerful wins to be gained by giving this third subject the attention it deserves.
Out of all the information we generate (willingly or unwillingly) out there, nothing gets more personal than health data. Traditionally, health data has been collecting dust in some public healthcare sector’s file cabinet, but thanks to fitness and wellness gadgets and services, that data is now scattered across the world.
Workout heatmaps reveal secret military bases left and right, DNA testing services get breached and fitness trackers go bankrupt leaving data who knows where. Is there any hope for privacy left in this field?
I reluctantly joined Facebook back in December 2011. During the couple of years I had the account, I learned more and more about the shadowy monster that provided us with our
daily hourly doses of dopamine in the forms of likes, shares and status updates.
This brings us to the first inconvenient – and most obvious – truth about the so-called Cambridge Analytica case: there’s absolutely nothing new in any of it.
After my previous blog post got some unexpected publicity, there were some curious instances of Vero apologists defending the platform. Two main cases they presented were:
- Every other social media platform does the same thing anyway
I’ll give it to them, the second point is almost 100% accurate, but it simply doesn’t make it any more OK to invade users’ privacy. However, it’s the first point that really grinds my gears, especially when it comes to Vero.
TL;DR: if you allow Vero to access your phone’s Contacts even for a brief moment, instead of one-time reading them, it quietly stores them all, links them to your account and uses to shape the user experience. It also gives users who have given access to their Contacts a way of connecting with users who have explicitly denied Vero’s access to their respective phone’s contact list. As an icing on the cake, there’s no way you can delete that info from the service afterwards. This blog post examines how this works.