The U.S. Government is one of the leading threats to Internet freedom.
In 2011, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized more than 100 domains, often without any basis in law.
politicians--most notably Joseph Lieberman--have called for an Internet
Kill Switch whereby the executive branch of the United States
Government would be given the "legal authority" to "kill" or terminate
some or all of the Internet for any reason.
More recently, the
Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a draconian measure supported by much of
Hollywood, threatens to subvert what little freedom remains on the
However, legislation targeting Internet freedom must
be construed in a broader context: since September 11th, 2001, the
Patriot Act has essentially sundered the rights and freedoms afforded by
the United States Constitution. And, in many ways, it has given birth
to the National Security State.
In light of the various threats to Internet privacy, it is necessary to
protect yourself not
only from governments, but multinational corporations, internet service
providers, universities, employers, and criminal networks.
connection to the Internet has an Internet Protocol (IP) address issued
by an Internet service provider (ISP). The IP address may not only
reveal who the internet service provider is, but more importantly, the
approximate city, state, and country of a particular user.
addition, every search made and every website visited (in particular,
online banking, email logins, et al) record a person's IP address and
saves it indefinitely.
It is this number that uniquely
identifies every user on the Internet. And since the ISP has a record
of the subscriber (name, tax identification number, home address, et al)
, every connection is traceable--traceable, that it is, unless the data
is first encrypted by a proxy or a VPN service before passing through
the internet service provider, making the data unreadable to the ISP.
In addition to encrypting data, proxies and VPNs can hide a person's IP address and replace it with a different IP.
many services on the Internet promise privacy and anonymity, few
deliver on such a promise. All web based proxies, such as
yourcheat.com, anonymouse.com, and shadowsurf.com, for example, are
ineffective and consequently must be avoided.
Web based proxies
do not encrypt an Internet connection and simply cannot handle third
many web based proxies are in fact run by criminal networks, law
enforcement, and intelligence agencies.
Virtual Private Networks
(VPNs), unlike proxies, encrypt the whole Internet; however, like
proxies, VPNs can be good or bad, depending on the service provider. A
VPN connection typically encrypts data from a person's computer through
the ISP to a VPN server.
How to choose a VPN:
• Understand that all VPN services, regardless of the privacy
policy, offer private--not anonymous--connections. VPNs are not
anonymous because all data passed from users' connections are visible to
the VPN provider; ultimately, VPNs require a certain amount of trust on
the user's end.
• Avoid Point to Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) services. PPTPs are considered less secure than OpenVPN services.
• OpenVPN is open source VPN technology that encrypts Internet
connections with high grade encryption. www.vpn4all.com and
www.cyberghostvpn.com are a few popular VPN services.
• Only use network proxies that are open source programs.
• Onion Proxy services (such as Tor) are the most anonymous Internet connections but also are among the slowest.
• Proxies have limitations on the ports they can anonymize. In
order to anonymize all ports, proxies require third party software known
resemble a post card--there is nothing preventing anyone from reading it
in transit. Here are some precautions you can take:
• Always encrypt sensitive emails with either PGP or S/MIME standards.
• Avoid popular email services offered by www.google.com,
www.yahoo.com, and www.hotmail.com. Those services are neither private
• Be cautious of certain email services
claiming to be private (i.e. www.safe-mail.com) but are in reality
of email services. It is almost always preferable to use an email
service outside of local jurisdiction. www.vekja.net;
www.cryptoheaven.com; and www.lavabit.com are popular choices.
• To avoid spam, preserve privacy, and protect against potentially
dangerous email, always use a disposable email service for forum logins,
online coupons, and other online activities. www.mailinator.com and
www.dispostable.com are good choices. However, please remember that
most throwaway email services are not intended for sensitive data, since
anyone may be able to read the contents of the email.
• It is always preferable to use a prepaid gift card (American
Express, Visa, et al) for anonymous online purchases than a debit or
• It is preferable to use an alias when purchasing online products.
The author is the author of The Privacy Book. Contact the firstname.lastname@example.org --For more information, please visit https://www.awxcnx.de/handbuch.htm