Data collection, tracking, and monitoring by either the government, your ISP, advertisers and other prying eyes have made the efforts of maintaining anonymity while using the internet a difficult task. The more we continue to embrace the ever-growing technology, the more footprints we leave online and hence more data we give away to prying eyes without knowing. Below are the reasons why you should maintain your privacy when online;
It’s your basic human right
Anyone who interferes with your privacy disregards one of your human rights. Technology has been – for a longtime – violating this right. Since you’re using a particular service, you might have no option. It’s either you risk your privacy or don’t use the service at all. But since the EU came with GDPR, actors involved in various services that involve user data are now undertaking measures to ensure that your basic right is protected.
Violation of this right might also lead to risking your freedom of expression if you are an activist, an investigative journalist or if your job requires utmost privacy.
To avoid privacy vulnerabilities
Your digital footprint is already a vulnerability waiting to be exploited. The identifiable information you leave behind can be used to deduce your behaviors and preferences and hence profile you. What follows next is that intrusive retargeting ads will hit you and you might end up being a victim of identity theft. You can also be hit with blackmail threats. Cybercriminals can even damage your reputation by posting what they have gathered about you on the open internet. Governments can also use your private personal data for social credit ranking purposes.
How to protect your online privacy and remain anonymous.
Achieving total anonymity in this digital era isn’t assured as you can’t entirely remove your digital fingerprint online. However, you can ensure what you are leaving behind is very minimal and cannot cause harm. Below are some precautions to help you control your privacy;
Similar to being cyber-aware, educating yourself regarding various aspects of privacy is the first step of ensuring you will remain anonymous. This means knowing the dos and don’ts of privacy, knowing what current events are happening and how they affect your privacy and also keeping tabs on privacy trends. Without knowledge, you won’t know what action to take when dealing with privacy issues.
Protecting your internet traffic.
Once you are equipped with knowledge, it’s time to act and ensure your privacy is protected. There are various ways and tools you can use to ensure your privacy remains intact. They start by ensuring your internet traffic is protected. They include;
- Private browsing/Incognito mode – Private browsing helps you achieve some local privacy; this privacy covers your computer only and not what you do online. Private browsing ensures that your browser doesn’t store cookies, your browsing history and it doesn’t cache web data. This is effective when beating advertisers and other third parties who use tracking services.
- Privacy through security – By maintaining the security of your data and online traffic, you are also maintaining your online privacy. There are various ways to do this such as using strong passwords, using 2FA methods and also encrypting your devices and apps.
- Using a VPN – A Virtual Private Network encompasses both privacy and security entities. When connecting to the internet via a VPN, your data traffic is encrypted, and this ensures it’s not visible by prying eyes including the government. A VPN also gives you anonymity by assigning you a new virtual IP address. Most times, this IP address is from a pool of shared IP addresses and hence anybody tracking you will find it very hard to find
Lastly, ensure you go through privacy policies and terms and conditions of services before agreeing/clicking the join/continue button.