THE BLOG

Cover Your Tracks Online; Privacy is Your Birthright

15/12/2014 11:20 GMT | Updated 13/02/2015 10:59 GMT

In the days of raging debates on internet privacy, consider this question if you are a novice on the topic. What kind of information do you reveal when you go online, do your searches, do your shopping, check your preferences, surf sites that interest you, read news, share information about yourself, express your opinions and upload pictures of a vacation you took with your family?

Every bit of this activity that you carry out online isn't as private as a face-to-face chat you would have with your friends, relatives or colleagues. At least not as private as you would assume it to be. To government agencies and internet companies, you are 'packets sent; packets received' and a big store house of data. You don't realize how you are being systematically deceived.

Because when you surf the net, you are laying information about yourself out there completely in the open -- much like drying the laundry under the bright sun. None of the companies or government agencies bother about your privacy to information and data relating to you. Because you have not been aware of how bare you are on the internet; and/ or have not solidly registered any resistance yet.

Basically, when you consider how much information about self can go out just by visiting a site the word is 'humongous'. Forget logging into a site with your name, address everything else that goes with it, when you just visit a site the site can see your IP address. Which means, even before you realize, your geographical location has been parted with. And, the Internet Service Provider or the ISP that has all information about you is a weak link between you and privacy.

Some ISP have dynamic policies regarding protecting the users' privacy. However, be sure, the powers that be, can access your information at the drop of a hat. Same is with the privacy issue when you surf net using your smart phone.

The cries to anonymizing the internet have been getting louder in since the last few years when internet entered our personal lives through home PCs and smartphones. Literally, when you are treated like a walking data card, you surely need better policies to ensure your identity is not compromised with. But, with the current policies that change from one country to another, it is next to impossible. In simpler terms, anonymity on internet is a tough challenge because no countries see the feasibility of it yet, and agencies would give ANYTHING to have easy information about people of any country.

When you consider the fact that your computer's IP address can easily give away as much information as anybody would care to make sense of, get this right. An IP address can also give away the longitude and latitude of your location!

Privacy became a debate of sorts with political leaders too, causing some embarrassing moments for even the US President where European Union led by Germany said they were contemplating on creating a different pathway dedicated only for EU users.

When the case is THIS serious, private citizens need to sit up and take notice. Time has come to ensure you remain anonymous on the internet, if you wish to be.

All thanks to Edward Snowden saga, where the former NSA agent spilt beans on how the government was tracking its own citizens using the net route. Cryptography today is more than an obscure word that meant a puzzle to ordinary people. It has turned into an almost mainstream notion that will gain prominence in the days to come.

The keyword here, like security guru Bruce Schneier says: "The less obvious you are; the safer you would be".

Achieving total anonymity on internet looks almost possible today, thanks to numerous applications and programs that are available online. Using the internet on incognito mode without giving consent to cookies, and still be able to surf through sites will be a reality soon. That way, you can be almost non-existent on internet.

One step towards this is being achieved by Tor, a security focused and hardened version of firefox that will filter all your activities through Tor's anonymizing network. Given three encrypted slip outs and allows the programs to track the user, Tor is closer to what we can call internet anonymity. Web is filled with many more apps and browsers that can hide your identity and again, you need to choose your program depending on how anonymous you would want to be.

Many privacy guides help you decide where you would want to set your bar but the bigger question may remain. How safe is your privacy again? Your privacy is your responsibility; and your birthright too!