I’m not a terrorist, you’re not a terrorist, but you are a human being deserving of privacy. Unfortunately, government surveillance the world over is increasing at a frightening pace. It is now coming down to us on an individual basis to resist this intrusion into our private lives.
There are a number of ways that you need to hide yourself. I will look at some tools which can cover most of the basics, but you’re going to need to learn a few other tactics if you want to truly stop any government from casually spying on you.
What is encryption
Before we get too far into this, I just wanted to explain what encryption is. First of all, encryption is not evil. I know many governments are trying to connect it to terrorism, but the odds are you have already used encryption today.
Take a look in your address bar. Anytime you see a little green lock there you know that the website you are connected to is using encryption. This is very important in banking, online shopping, and other confidential places online.
How encryption stops government surveillance
What encryption does is it takes standard text and scrambles it so that it can only be read and unlocked by someone who has the key. Anyone who tries to intercept your data while it is encrypted cannot read it. This is what is going to protect you.
The other way that governments track you is by knowing your IP address. This is a unique number to your computer. With the revelation that the Trump administration tried to get the IP addresses of protesters who visited an Anti-Trump site shows, your digital life is being watched.
Encrypted communication stops surveillance
In order to have encrypted communication you must have something on your machine which will encrypt everything you do online. You need this encryption to be right on your machine, even protecting you from your ISP who can be a tool for the government.
What you will use for this is known as a VPN. These tools cost anywhere from $3.33/month for Private Internet Access to $6.67/month for VyperVPN. Once you have one installed, and connect to one of its servers, it will encrypt absolutely everything that you do on your computer on the Internet. This will include:
- Every email you send
- All the websites you visit
- Anything you download or torrent
- Everything that you do on social media
- It will also hide your IP address
It is a perfect tool for hiding yourself from government surveillance, and from anyone else who is trying to spy on you. Don’t forget that hackers also come into your need for privacy from surveillance.
Getting email privacy from government surveillance
The biggest email providers in the world are also big tools for the government. Yahoo! Mail and Google’s Gmail are well known for collaborating with the government to help spy on you. To get around this, first you need to connect to your VPN. Then you need to choose a private email provider:
Each of these features end to end encryption. Not only are your emails encrypted, but so are your email contacts. Sometimes, who you’re associated with makes you a target for government surveillance.
More and more people are turning away from email and are instead using some sort of chatting app or chat rooms. Cryptocat is a free and open source program that allows you to set up your own encrypted chat room. You can do it through Facebook or Gchat.
Did you know? Cryptocat is one of the few end-to-end encrypted chat apps that lets you securely send big files of up to 200MB in size.
— Cryptocat (@cryptocatapp) January 31, 2017
This tool comes as a browser extension. You can use it on Safari, Chrome, or Firefox. Once you create the chat room you can pass its name along to your friends. It is crucial that you find a way to share the name for your chat room privately.
Private chatting apps
If you want to chat privately through your phone there are a few apps which feature end to end encryption:
Any one of these three apps will allow you to have private communication anywhere you go. This is especially important if you connect to public Wi-Fi while using a chat app. Again, the government isn’t the only group spying on you. Hackers frequently spy using public Wi-Fi. These apps will protect you, as will a VPN such as IPVanish.
Online communication and government surveillance
In a perfect world, I would not have to write this article. Your government would respect your privacy until you were suspected of a crime. But with NSA programs, such as PRISM, spying upon tens of millions of people… You can no longer afford to assume that your communications are private.
This is not something that is used by terrorists. You need it when you communicate with your:
In none of these instances do you want your information, your location, or your sensitive data about those involved revealed. You are going to have to take responsibility for this until world governments realize that what they are doing is not actually helping people. If you’re curious, there are still many more Internet security tools which can help you gain privacy from surveillance.