Here you will find
A) a commentary explaining the basic issues,
B) a list of what you can do and,
C) articles and videos going into more depth
so you can understand
what is happening and what is at stake.
Additions will be at the end of each section.
A) Privacy, security, free speech and control over your information
should be extremely important to you.
The talk about your data, of facebook and Cambridge Analytica are but a drop in the bucket, it goes way beyond what you see on the news. Even facebook’s harvesting and selling of info on you is beyond what you’ve been told and there are many, many others out there gathering and selling information and data about you, your internet habits, surfing, even phone and location and it is NOT harmless.
It can affect you in ways you may never have imagined and we must all be aware and proactive.
Please open your mind to some of the issues. This is a short list, not at all complete, obviously.
Before I list some of the ways you can have at least some control over your data and your life and protect yourself, I’ll toss out there just a couple ways what they do can negativity affect you.
1) If do an internet search for, let’s say, “What are the symptoms of diabetes?” the fact you searched that can be sold to a health insurance company or anyone that may (or already does) employ you and you can end up not getting insurance, seeing your rates go up, being fired (or, “let go”) since the companies buying that data might decide you are too much of a risk to their profit.
Think about that, then think about how what you eat, what you buy, where you are, where you have been, what route you have taken, what political actions you take or support and on and on can affect you. If you are not intentionally sharing certain things (such as an internet search) you should not have to worry about Google (or other search engines) selling the search to anyone who wants to buy it.
There are companies compiling not only posts on facebook or elsewhere, and searches, but also your location (through your phone), where you go, how long you are there, what you buy (those “rewards” cards at stores are there to connect all the things you buy) and more.
It’s not harmless.
2) If you’re an activist, reporter, whistleblower, have a business idea you don’t want to get out, are running for office or have any conversation you want private you can see being constantly surveilled, recorded and charted by government, corporate or anyone that knows how to snoop on you without a warrant or permission is a problem that must be addressed.
I’ll list below a number of ways you can limit what information is gathered about your life but just remember, if you’re online or use a phone or have a “smart” tv or virtually any other device like those there’s no fully safe, fully private life you will have.
For one, the government of the US (and other ones around the world) harvest info on EVERY call, text, search and everything else you do online or through your phone. That will be covered as I can, but you can always look up “William Binney” who was the 30 year veteran of the NSA, who wrote the code for the program that they eventually used to illegally and without a warrant spy on every American and many people’s communication around the world.
But, with that said, you can do a lot and here’s some info. Newest will be added to the bottom of the list and this is not necessarily listed in a well prioritized order, so please check out as much as you can and decide what steps to take.
And lastly, before the list, please don’t let the problems of privacy and all the ways data can be used stop you from dissenting or make you limit your life. Be smart but don’t let fear ruin you or this world.
(Check terms of service of the various companies, etc and read up on your own, I can not guarantee the info shared here as up to date or fully accurate, it’s up to you to decide)
B) What can you do?
1) Here are a few organizations that list some of what you can do, if you visit them please make sure to check out the rest of the list here.
and adding a real good list by Reporters Without Borders
and some from the Freedom of the Press Foundation
2) Do not use Google search engine and limit as much as possible any use of their programs or products.
They are up top with harvesting of data.
3) Some search engines that at least claim to not save searches or sell your data are
More listed here:
4) Browsers (the program you use to access the internet on your pc, phone, table, etc)
Don’t use Chrome (it’s by Google), don’t use Safari (Apple) or IE (Microsoft). None of those companies have earned or deserve any of our trust whatsoever.
Read up on your own even if you choose one listed here or at one of these links
Privacy Browsers listed at Hacker 10
More listed here:
5) Use “private mode” on whatever browser you use and delete cookies often, those can track your surfing. Read how to set and use your browser properly.
Some are set for private browsing all the time, such as Firefox Focus for iOS or Android, just read up on whatever you choose and use.
NOTE: Your ISP and others can still see what site you go to, what search terms you use, etc even with “Private mode” on.
6) Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). That encrypts traffic between your computer or phone and the site you visit.
“Private mode” on browsers is helpful but does nothing at all to stop your ISP (Internet Service Provider), phone company or a clever hacker from seeing what sites you visit and what you are viewing/texting/sending, etc.
The EFF has some info on VPNs
You can also help FFTF and get a VPN here (but feel free to research on your own)
7) If you run a website get an SSL certificate. That makes your site be encrypted with the visitor. When you see the (usually something like) a green padlock up in the address bar (not the search bar, but where the name of the site which is like https:together4earth.one is)
https is secure, http is not.
8) Limit what apps you put on your phone. Read what permissions you allow before you use one. Click “more” on some phones to see permissions given that aren’t the first ones they bother to tell you about.
Hundreds of apps have been found to be spying on people using the mic and camera and some are wanting permission to send a receive and even alter texts, check into that.
Here is a bit of info at the link below, but again remember, a lot of what can be done to listen and watch and harvest info will NOT be evident nor stated nor have any way to opt out, so not having a smart phone or at the least turning it off and putting it away is the safest.
9) Turn your phone off when not using it. Getting a case or sleeve that blocks the signal is a good idea (and if you get one test it to make sure it actually blocks signals by having it turned on with the ringer turned all the way up, put it in the sleeve or box and then call it from another phone. If the sleeve or whatever does block the signal the phone should not ring and the call should go straight to voicemail. At the least turn it off and put it in a drawer or something. Phones can be turned on remotely and the camera and mic can be turned on without any light or indicator they are on.
10) Don’t sign into sites unless you need to and when leaving there sign out. Turning your browser off and then back on if it’s set to be private can erase cookies and history so that any tracking that site does use may be blocked from being used by them.
Don’t ignore things like this, data selling is a multi billion dollar industry. Companies and sites use it all the time.
11) Only use “loyalty” cards and accounts if you really think it’s worth it.
12) Turn off and unplug your tv (or have it on a power strip that you can easily switch off and on) if it’s a “smart” tv.
Samsung in their TOS actually state right there that ANYTHING said within where the tv can hear it is transmitted to a 3rd party. Who that is or what is done with it is obviously out of your hands. Think about that. Those also have cameras…. think hard about that.
The convenience of those being voice command and needing a camera can’t be worth having your house bugged, can it?
13) Don’t buy into the Alexa or other devices that are voice command and connected to the internet.
Again… you are bugging your own life. You are putting you and every visitor to your house or around you under surveillance by people that make money selling data and info and marketing.
It’s not worth it, don’t buy into it.
14) How to Keep the NSA From Spying Through Your Webcam
15) Anything with a mic or camera (smart tv, cell phone, pc, laptop, tablet, Alexa type devices, a home security system hooked up to the internet) could be used by a company, government agency, hacker, peeping tom or blackmailer if they know how to do it.
Question if you need those devices and if so do they really need to be plugged in and turned on and with you all the time?
Technology can serve us, it can also be harmful. Be smart about what you have and how you use it.
16) When you sign up for anything (a service, a social media site or anything) or download an app or run a browser plugin READ THEIR TERMS, don’t just click “I accept”.
17) Many companies that do harvesting, advertising and analytics have opt out polices or where you can limit what they harvest and how they use it. Look into that.
18) Avoid staying signed in anywhere (facebook or anywhere) when you surf around or visit other sites.
19) Avoid using the “sign in using facebook” type thing where it’s a site other than facebook (or whatever) but you can set up using that sign in. If you use those you are giving info to facebook (or whoever) so don’t do that.
20) Note that many apps and things on sites (such as facebook) gain access to your account info and friends list etc when you turn them on and/or use them. Again… READ THE TERMS before using anything.
21) Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) may have where you can limit what they gather about your use of the service and what they do with it. Look into that.
22) Use common sense, read up from time to time as new issues or info may come to light that you should know and remember, no list no matter how comprehensive will cover everything you should be aware of.
23) A lot of info on cookies, how to control and delete them including LSOs can be found at
24) In light of what the article down below in the next section covers when talking about where virtually EVERY cell phone in the US has their location available to at least one company (LocationSmart) which had the data easily available to anyone, I thought it good to remind people to do a few things along with the actions and gaining of knowledge in the rest of this post and any other information gathered elsewhere.
– Turn off location on your phone in the settings, look it up for your specific device.
– Turn off location on any apps that do not need it (and when looking at app permissions, click “more” if it’s available and extra info/permissions will be shown), delete them if you require it even though it has nothing to do with what the app is actually about.
– Go to your phone company’s website, read their privacy, terms and wherever else they have how you can turn off ads, tracking, etc. Follow through with that on any devices you use. (phone or table, etc)
At some phone companies one click can send an opt out to over 100 companies. How much that actually helps we don’t know but it’s worth looking into and trying at least.
– Go to http://optout/aboutads.info
25) How to secure your personal data at border crossings
26) List of the best free webmail privacy services
NOTE, unless updated recently that list is from 2012, so read up there and elsewhere.
27) If You Have a Comcast Xfinity Router, You Need to Install a VPN (Now)
28) You can use an open source OS (Operating System) as opposed to anything from Microsoft such as Windows or anything from Apple.
You can look up “Debian” and “Ubuntu” and one based on those called “Linux Mint” which can be found at
Read up and decide for yourself, plus there will be forums and places with info.
29) Who Is Tracking You Via Your Smartphone?
30) How to turn off Windows 10’s keylogger (yes, it still has one)
Microsoft can track your keystrokes, your speech, and more. Here are the settings to turn it all off.
31) The price of free: how Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google sell you to advertisers
Here’s what popular services like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft collect — and what you can do about it.
32) Cybersecurity for the People: How to Keep Your Chats and Calls Truly Private With Signal
33) Surveillance Self-Defense
34) Since cell phones (and other devices but specifically talking phones and tablets here) can be remotely turned on without any indication they are on, one thing some people do is make or buy a pouch or box to put their phones in when they want to try to guarantee privacy.
There are various ways, the best thing to do is search, check out articles and videos and then try something and test it for cell signal, wifi and bluetooth by leaving it turned on with the ringer turned up, putting it in whatever you buy or build and then calling it from another phone and/or using a meter that can detect the frequency ranges of those 3 (or any others) your phone may use.
Some people say a cheap simple pouch works, others build one out of better material, still others make more complicated boxes.
Whatever you do, remember, even if you turn your phone off that does NOT mean it can’t be remotely turned on and listen or watch through mic and camera. Much of what is above in the articles and videos plus what you can find on your own corroborate that fact, so turning off your phone and setting it right there with you means various people or agencies could be eavesdropping on you AND your guests, friends AND everyone else, so out of respect for other’s privacy along with your own you should look into all these things.
While it won’t block it being used remotely, you can at the least stick it in a drawer or box in another room but the mic is more sensitive than you may think, so you can test the privacy of that by turning on the audio recorder or video recorder, put it where you think is not going to hear you and then go and talk, then go back and listen to what was recorded. You may be surprised to find it can pick up conversations you didn’t think it could hear, even faintly so take that into account.
Get informed and decide on your own.
Here’s just one basic article you can start with
C) Articles, videos and info on data harvesting,
your data being used and sold, privacy, etc.
1) Facebook Buys Sensitive User Data to Offer Marketers Targeted Advertising
2) Facebook, This Is Not What “Complete User Control” Looks Like
3) A very good short video dealing with US government surveillance of everyone. Note that it is from a few years ago so the amount of data (including texts and all phone info) isn’t even included in the already massive amount of data he mentions.
4) Think Facebook knows a lot about you? Google is WORSE! From deleted files to location history, IT expert reveals the extent of the personal data the search giant holds on you
5) Video: Voice sniffing or eavesdropping? Amazon’s Alexa security remains a controversy (They kid around a bit but please watch the whole short video, they cover some important points)
6) Is your TV spying on YOU? It sounds like science fiction but many new TVs can watch you – telling advertisers your favourite shows or even filming you on the sofa. And there’s no off switch!
7) He covers a few things in this video below, starts with facebook and google, then after a bit how the DHS is working on tracking ALL journalists, bloggers and anyone sharing articles and information.
Get aware people, read up and research on your own and awaken others!
8) ‘Very damaging’ or inevitable? Lawyers assess US proposal to rummage through visitors’ social media
9) LocationSmart, which gathers real-time data on cellular wireless devices, confirmed that a flaw in its website allowed outsiders to pinpoint the location of mobile phones in the United States without authorization.
One thing to note about the article is it doesn’t even look at why anyone would think tracking every American is right, how it can possibly justified, how most people obviously wouldn’t want it and who is buying (or hacking into) or getting the info and how it is being used, which obviously could be used maliciously.
10) Border inspections of electronic devices hits record high
11) Amazon urged not to sell facial recognition tool to police
12) Amazon: Echo device sent conversation to family’s contact
13) The growing threat to privacy from big data forensics and false positives
14) Crypto backdoors are in the news again, and as bad for privacy as ever
15) In China, workers’ brainwaves are now being monitored on the factory floor
16) About the PIA Client Security and VPN Security in General
17) A Private Net Is Just As Fundamental A Right As Freedom Of Speech
18 a) (2 part series)
Defending human rights in a digital age (I)
18 b) Defending human rights in a digital age (II)
19 a) (6 part series)
Championing human rights for the internet – why bother? Part one: coming in from the cold
19 b) Championing human rights for the internet – why bother? Part two: “Ground control to Major Tom”
19 c) Championing human rights for the internet – why bother? Part three; Some progress is better than nothing?
19 d) Championing human rights for the internet – why bother? Part four: Stepping up the tempo
19 e) Championing human rights on the internet – Part five: Why bother then?
19 f) Championing human rights on the internet — Part Six: Summing up, too much or not enough?
20) Facebook Partners With Hawkish Atlantic Council, a NATO Lobby Group, to “Protect Democracy”
The partnership between Facebook and the Atlantic Council is an attempt to ensure the grip of dominant imperialist powers – militaries, multinationals, banks, and philanthropists – who feel threatened by the unrestricted flow of information and anti-systemic narratives on social media.
21) “The New York Times reported Sunday that Facebook formed deals with at least 60 makers of cell phones and other devices allowing them access to users’ personal information and that of their Facebook friends, without explicit consent.”
22) Rogue Spying Devices Found In U.S. States Cause Call For Concern
23) The Most Important Surveillance Story You’ll See for Years
A new report reveals how AT&T buildings are serving as secret hubs for NSA spying.
Additions to all 3 of those sections will be added at the bottom of each.
Please research on your own.
Please don’t write off these issues as “just the way it is” or not important or that it doesn’t affect you. It does affect you and will only get worse until we protect ourselves as much as possible and simultaneously work to get people in office and support companies that respect our privacy, our rights and the Constitution.
Some of those things are in various posts on this site, please check them out and don’t forget to check back and also share this with others. Many people are totally unaware of the depth of these problems or what they can do. Help inform them.
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