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May 9, 2017

How to Take Back Your Privacy

Four quick and easy ways to protect your online privacy.

Changes in privacy regulation often get attention in the mass media, but not clarity. Although the headlines are by design meant to illicit a wide range of emotional responses, the details about the actual impact of the privacy legislation are often woefully lacking.

Sometimes privacy regulation news is brought to the forefront of our attention because of political biases, like the swell of news articles that appeared after President Trump repealed an Internet Service Provider (ISP) focused regulatory change. This particular regulatory change, related to the selling of your browsing habits, had been signed into law—but not enacted—by the Obama administration.

Although it’s always worthwhile to ask yourself how the changing winds of privacy regulation impact you, your family and your business, a more important question to ask yourself is this: What am I doing to ensure my privacy so that changing regulations won’t impact me?

Online privacy is and will remain an issue here in the United States and around the world. There are some countries that regulate the privacy of their citizens’ data to the point where there are prohibitions limiting certain types of private data from leaving a country’s geographic borders. Although the intent of the legislation is often commendable, it’s pretty much impossible to stop a piece of data from crossing a specific geographic boundary.

No matter the intent of any legislation that may have been passed or that will be passed, and no matter what a specific piece of legislation from a country or collection of countries dictates, you are the only one who can truly control what happens to the privacy of your information—but only if you really want to. None of the solutions are easy, but they can help ensure your privacy.

Here are some steps that you can take to get your privacy back under your control.

  • Want to secure the information you send and receive as it is transmitted online and stop the ISPs from accessing that info? Try Opera VPN for computers and mobile devices.
  • Looking to anonymize your web browsing? Give Tor a try.
  • Want to stop advertisers from tracking you on each site you visit? Install the browser extension Privacy Badger.
  • Want to use a search engine that doesn’t track your searches and associate the results with you? Visit DuckDuckGo.

Using some of these privacy-enhancing tools might force you to make changes to your browsing habits, but some are less invasive to your browsing style than others. Try the tools out to see which ones work best for you, and take back your privacy from those that wish to profit from collecting and monetizing your past.

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