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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wifi, Phones, Internet, and Protecting Your Privacy

eye watching
When we use a smart phone, our governments, federal, state, and local, and a wide variety of corporations can track where we are, who we talk to and when, and what we do online. The result is they often know more about our activities and our tastes than even our closest relatives. Our phone and internet service providers track us. Google keeps extensive records on us, and many of the apps we use report back on our activities to their source. When we use unsecure wifi in public places—coffee shops, stores, libraries—it is possible for someone to electronically grab any information we enter, including passwords, and view our online activities.

So how do we maintain our electronic privacy? The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides information about how to prevent online tracking: "In less than 10 minutes, you can drastically improve your privacy online and protect yourself against unwanted and invisible tracking."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Surveillance Self-Defense website. has more suggestions for how to protect your privacy for a variety of needs: journalists, activists, students, and a basic starter package for the beginner who wants to protect his or her privacy online. This starter package takes you through several steps to help you determine what threats you face and what you can do about them.

duck duck go homepage
There are search engines that do not track you. I have found Duck Duck Go, which does not track users, to be better than Google for general searching. Google is not as much of a search engine as it used to be. It is becoming more of a push engine. It provides results based on what it knows about you, and on what businesses pay Google for search related services. Sometimes that is helpful, but it also prevents you seeing results you might want that fit your search, but which do not fit Google's profile of you.

For privacy using public wifi, many recommend subscribing to a virtual private network or VPN. Not familiar with VPNs? Find out more about what a VPN is and why you should use one. Then find recommendations for the best VPN services. And, for serious privacy concerns, which VPN services offer the best anonymity protection.

Safari Books OnlineThe Library has books on electronic privacy under 005.8 on the shelves, and quite a number of up to date resources available in Safari electronic books.

For more on electronic privacy, see the following websites:
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