Monday, March 16, 2015

Alphabet Spy Agencies Got You Down and Blue? Try These 5 Things to Hide Your Email Activity

Don't want a digital dossier of your personal interests to be stored and analyzed? Wean yourself from the most popular search engines — Google, Bing and Yahoo. All of them collect and dissect your queries to learn what kinds of products and services might appeal to you so they can sell advertising targeted to your interests. Just because that trove of data is meant to be used for commercial purposes doesn't mean snoopers such as the NSA couldn't vacuum up the information, too, to find out more about you. A small search engine called DuckDuckGo has been gaining more fans with its pledge to never collect personal information or track people entering queries on its site.
Just 10 percent of those participating in Pew's survey said they use a search engine that doesn't track their searching history.
Encryption programs such as Pretty Good Privacy, or PGP, can make your email appear indecipherable to anyone without the digital key to translate the gibberish. This can help prevent highly sensitive financial and business information from getting swept up by hackers, as well as a government dragnet. Yet only 2 percent of the people surveyed by Pew used PGP or other email encryption programs.
A privacy tool called Blur, made by Abine, enables its users to surf the Web without their activities being tracked. It also masks passwords and credit card information entered on computers and mobile devices so they can't be lifted from the databases of the websites that collect them. Blur charges $39 annually for this level of protection. Privacy Badger from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, offers a free way to block tracking of browsing activity.
Only 5 percent of the Pew respondents used these kinds of tools.
It might sound old-school, but if you want to share something really sensitive, meet face to face. The Pew poll found 14 percent of respondents are choosing to speak in person more frequently rather than text, email or talk on the phone because of the Snowden revelations.
If you're looking to become more literate about the ins and outs of digital privacy, two of the most comprehensive guides can be found through the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Surveillance Self-Defense site, , and .
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