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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Protect Your Privacy These Days? Or Do You?

Unknown Lamer posted about 10 months ago | from the nsa-and-cia-just-know-i'm-a-square dept.

Privacy 319

An anonymous reader writes "The NSA snoops traffic and has backdoors in encryption algorithms. Law enforcement agencies are operating surveillance drones domestically (not to mention traffic cameras and satellites). Commercial entities like Google, Facebook and Amazon have vast data on your internet behavior. The average Joe has sophisticated video-shooting and sharing technology in his pocket, meaning your image can be spread anywhere anytime. Your private health, financial, etc. data is protected by under-funded IT organizations which are not under your control. Is privacy even a valid consideration anymore, or is it simply obsolete? If you think you can maintain your privacy, how do you go about it?"

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319 comments

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one method (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505751)

not truthfully responding to such questions

Re:one method (2)

JohnVanVliet (945577) | about 10 months ago | (#45505831)

no kidding
there may or may not be one( or more) site(s) that has my REAL D of B and age
nor have my address or city i live in

different profiles might have different schools
and different years attended
or not .

Re:one method (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505915)

I'm not sure if you are trying to be funny. So I take it as serious talk.

This all listed above means nothing if the IP you are using is the same you use to log in to FB or to Google.

Re:one method (4, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | about 10 months ago | (#45506001)

Which part of not entering real information did you miss?

Unfortunately there's a couple of flaws in his plan:
a) Facebook is busy asking other people things like: "Did you go to school with JohnVanVilet?" and they're all eagerly answering "Yes!!"
b) They've figure out he lies so they're starting to 'confirm' every new account via. mobile phone.

Re:one method (1)

Kvasio (127200) | about 10 months ago | (#45506049)

fortunately in some countries a prepaid simcard costs $1-2 .... quite convenient for being disposable

Re:one method (4, Interesting)

digitalchinky (650880) | about 10 months ago | (#45506185)

In 3 letter agency circles the process is called "Traffic Analysis". Even if you use a prepaid SIM you toss away a few minutes later, the first time you reach out to anyone you've ever known, you cease to be unknown. Reach out to 3 or 4 people and it's game over, you're new identity is tossed in the same box as your old identity. Back to square one. The only way to hide from TA is to avoid exposure entirely. One person can keep a secret. Two people, not so much.

Re:one method (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 months ago | (#45506241)

well sure, if you're a mafia boss handing out death sentences you might need to change the phone every 3-4 calls... if you just want to fuck with nsa change the phones and sims with your friends, maybe they'll make one single superperson out of you.

there's diminishing returns on that for advertising sites though, and if you want to appear online as yourself with some profile then people will somehow have to know it's you(or at least that it's your alias) anyways. it's not like some random website that uses txt confirmation of your account is going to have the access to your phone operators records to comb through the imeis and past logs to match that it is you(well, maybe at&t would sell access to it).

though advertising sites don't really even care if the information is bad as long as they can find a buyer for it, if they can say to their buyer that the info is txt confirmed then that's pretty much what they care about, being able to sell the log as unique visitor(if they're using it for that).

and if you're doing something online that you don't want traced, use tor or some other solution. but if you want to access your banking account then at the very least the bank has to somehow know it's you...

In Soviet Russia, Comrades can always find YOU! (1)

Thor Ablestar (321949) | about 10 months ago | (#45506255)

It is just why I always insist that any so-called Crypto Phone Program is basically worthless since any of them does nothing to hide a FACT of communication between specific persons. The 3-letter agencies need not know the conversation itself since they can always torture it out of your correspondent.

Now, I see some developments in this direction but all of them are quite far from fruition since every really anonymous protocol is by definition slow.

Re:one method (5, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 10 months ago | (#45506309)

It depends who you are hiding from.

The typical internet user is unlikely to incur the wrath of the NSA or even law enforcement unless they are involved in crime or political activism. They may choose to hide on princible.

What they do have to fear is the casual background check.

For example: I loathe the catholic church. A bunch of homophobic superstitious idiots with ridiculous beliefs that even they have had to shy away from out of embarassment. Stuck-up people who claim to be the sole early authority on issues of morality, though apparently this includes sheltering a truely obscene number of child-molesters in their ranks from the public relations disaster of actually being caught by law enforcement.

My first job out of university was in IT support at a catholic school.

Now, imagine if I had been dumb enough to write the above under my real name somewhere? The school may very well have put my name into google to check if I have any skeletons, found something like the above, and decided not to offer me the job. I'd never have learned why, just gotten the 'your application was not successful' form letter, so it's impossible to say how often this happens - but with facebook and google requiring real names for an increasing number of social media concerns, this is surely happening with increasing frequency.

Re:one method (2)

TheP4st (1164315) | about 10 months ago | (#45505861)

not truthfully responding to such questions

So I shouldn't let on that I have contracted cold fjord to secure all my data?

I for one welcome our new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505753)

FISA overloards

If you can't beat them, join them (1)

h00manist (800926) | about 10 months ago | (#45505957)

It's been deemed acceptable to gather data on the entire population - though still illegal.
Proportionally, it's acceptable to gather data on everyone in any position of power. Though still illegal.
It's the only way to even the game.

Re:I for one welcome our new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506007)

Did you mean: Overlards?

Unplug. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505755)

Unplug.

Re:Unplug. (4, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | about 10 months ago | (#45505877)

So you plan on never going to the doctor. Never getting a job. No girlfriend. Never walking down a city street. Never owning a car. Never renting or owning a place to live. Oh, and groceries...

About all you could do is head to the woods and live off the land, but not yours. ( Of course then you have the satellites to worry about.. ).

Good luck with that plan.

Re:Unplug. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505899)

So you plan on never going to the doctor. Never getting a job. No girlfriend. Never walking down a city street. Never owning a car. Never renting or owning a place to live. Oh, and groceries...

Slashdotters don't do any of these things. Especially not the job or the girlfriend or leaving the basement.

Re: Unplug. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506203)

I have a job and two girlfriends (one three year relationship one four year relationship - both still going strong).

That said, I do rent a very nice 'basement' - a large cave-like room under a house, overlooking a garden.

While I'm sure you made the above statement for comic effect, your oversimplification of the demographics of this site is ridiculous.

Re:Unplug. (5, Interesting)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about 10 months ago | (#45506155)

Here's the thing:

There are two levels of private here. There's keeping things private from potential employers, friends, family, associates and so on and there's keeping things private from the NSA, GCHQ, Chinese Government and so on. The average guy or girl has absolutely no hope of keeping their online dealings private from the latter. From the former, you don't so much keep them private as be a bit circumspect when making use of the internet, your mobile phone and so on.

So far over the last 10 years I've had 1 credit card attempted theft (tried to transfer £4,000 out of it, bank caught it as "suspect" so it didn't happen) and I've had 2 email accounts hacked and used to send spam. Of the latter, the problem was weak passwords. I now have a "system" for passwords and none are weak, but that doesn't mean the NSA and GCHQ can't still read them. I have no intention of fighting a room full of Mathematics PhDs for my data.

Even if you get the NSA to stop doing this through political action, the Chinese, Russians and so on will still be doing it.

Don't use it (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505757)

Nothing you do electronically is anonymous. I don't use the Internet, I don't make phone calls, and I don't do email. Ever. At all. I only pay cash (coins actually, because bills have serial numbers that can be tracked). And I certainly would never, ever, post anything online.

Re:Don't use it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505923)

I don't make phone calls, and I don't do email. Ever. At all. I only pay cash

Phone calls are unwelcome interruptions, email just invites spam, and cash is very convenient.

Re:Don't use it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505945)

Cash is a good invite to be mugged. Knives are cheap and do a heck of a lot more carnage than a bullet in close quarters by someone who knows anything about how to wield one.

Re:Don't use it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506019)

Damn. Where do you live?

Re:Don't use it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506061)

No, looking like you have cash is a good invitation to be mugged. Wear old dirty tattered clothing, neglect grooming, and muggers will assume you're homeless and you have no money. As an added bonus you'll save money by not wasting it on new clothes or hair products.

Re:Don't use it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506219)

amen to that... now if only they made good hidden pockets in clothes. the bag is getting obvious..

Re:Don't use it (1)

JustOK (667959) | about 10 months ago | (#45505953)

If you've ever touched a penny, then the govt has your DNA

Re:Don't use it (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505965)

That's exactly why I only touch pennies with my private parts - they may have my DNA but they're not going to like where it came from.

Re:Don't use it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506095)

They will if they have the hots for you, which they do.

Re:Don't use it (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about 10 months ago | (#45505975)

Nothing you do electronically is anonymous.

Worse: Anybody who can find out anything at all about you, will, and they'll sell that information to as many other people as they possibly can.

I keep my data locally. Almost... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505771)

My private data does not leave my home network. I lack off site backups, but Google spies on all my email. I rarely bother with Tor, just enough to draw suspicion. Gee, maybe I should rethink some of this, but that sounds like work.

I think my issue here is the same as a lot of peoples: maintaining privacy requires you actually bother to do stuff. My categorical banning of all cookies, java script and browser plugins except for white lists is really the only effort I've put into my privacy.

I don't go around spamming private stuff on Facebook, but I still expose my reading habits to web servers, my ISP etc. I don't host my own sites, so I'm leaking lots of info about my users/readers to the hosts. I lack HTTPs support on most of my sites, so I'm leaking lots of stuff.

I've toyed with Tor hidden services (I made one), and bitcoin (I have some), but never actually done anything with them. I have a big interest in privacy, but generally I don't bother with it. Its kinda sad really.

We need better tools to make having privacy not be a sacrifice: it needs to be easy, and not lose you features, or even the people who care (like me) won't even bother. We are a long way from this, which in the purest sense isn't even actually possible (You have to lose some features if you have true privacy).

Re:I keep my data locally. Almost... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505911)

We need better tools to make having privacy not be a sacrifice: it needs to be easy, and not lose you features, or even the people who care (like me) won't even bother.

This. We also need to make it much easier to find out which tools/services are worth people's time, energy, and money. Even something as seemingly simple as intelligently choosing an ISP, VPN, email provider, etc. requires a massive investment in time to learn the basic technical aspects of each service & relevant features, scour the Web to find non-spammy reviews hidden among the SEOspam, compare prices & feature offerings... If a geek like me that already understands the technology and has a ton of free time to do research finds it a frustrating pain in the ass, the average consumer hasn't got a chance in hell.

IMHO it would be a good idea to form a donation-supported central site (wiki, forum, whatever) where individuals could write articles explaining the relevant technology both for geeks and non-technical types, post overviews of services (prices, features, government-friendliness, etc.) & personal reviews, double-check reviews for accuracy, compile results, and so forth.

I don't care (so much) as long as (fillinfodder) (5, Informative)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about 10 months ago | (#45505773)

Most people I have talked with are angry, but don't know how to act against it.

easy way to encrypt for fun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505981)

I'm avoiding paranoia.. but having a bit of fun with encryption.
Here's a simple way to mess around -
Zip (8.7k) up the html from https://github.com/JJones780/EasyCryptJS/archive/master.zip [github.com] and pass it along with your first encrypted email.

To see the cheesy joke I found, use it to decrypt this block. The password is the name of this website, all lowercase:

U2FsdGVkX1963PbAMX34kTCVEE9Lz2ffbQ/RQQnqqCNPYf3me4pDOulEleh+FUqI
2PHGK/7bfY1mivJq9oA9zw9rPrsKEgTlds5iI/kzHZJqUCl5SEfq+sX36k+q6lwg
J/qP+7Eq+fQ9W3/Oe1jvig==

Re:I don't care (so much) as long as (fillinfodder (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 10 months ago | (#45506311)

You should take it on yourself to educate them. Tell them about cheap VPN services and how easy they are to set up. I even give people cheap flash drives I bought of eBay and loaded with a portable version of the Tor browser bundle. I'm trying to figure out if a portable VM with Tails is possible.

Simple (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about 10 months ago | (#45505783)

I send everything to Snowden for safe-keeping.

Simple. (4, Funny)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 10 months ago | (#45505787)

I don't have anything the NSA is interested in.
The people that are likely to try to gain from violating my privacy are likely to spend 10 times more then they gain.

Re:Simple. (5, Insightful)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 10 months ago | (#45505803)

I don't have anything the NSA is interested in.
The people that are likely to try to gain from violating my privacy are likely to spend 10 times more then they gain.

There are two words that everyone should be concerned with: False Positive.

Re:Simple. (5, Insightful)

MoonFog (586818) | about 10 months ago | (#45505885)

I agree with you 100%. The issue I've found is that people are absolutely terrible when it comes to working with big numbers. Any chance of false positive is seen as a 1 in a million shot at best. People cannot comprehend how they could end up in that kind of situation, the chances are so slim. It seems to me many have forgotten the old saying that we're supposed to let 10 guilty people go rather than jail 1 innocent person since we're (the west) supposed to be a benevolent democracy.

As I usually say: every week there is someone who wins the lottery, and that chance is really, really small.

Re:Simple. (1)

Imrik (148191) | about 10 months ago | (#45506283)

If that's what you're worried about wouldn't you want to give them more information so they'd have a better picture of you rather than less?

Re:Simple. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505807)

"I don't have anything the NSA is interested in."

Do you comment on any forums to influence people?
Do you vote? Do you think your vote is not interesting?
Do you have relatives? Do you think they are all so bland and uninteresting?
Do you work for a company? Does it make stuff in competition to other companies?
Do you know stuff the NSA might find useful.

Re:Simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505811)

True. Sadly they will pay the price anyway.

Re:Simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506201)

It's called power. How much you think they're willing to pay for that? Everything maybe?

In Soviet Russia your TV watches YOU! (5, Insightful)

Thor Ablestar (321949) | about 10 months ago | (#45506269)

I don't have anything the NSA is interested in.

It's correctable. Just ask your congressman to make your everyday activity punishable. Here in Russia I read about 3 reports per day about people punished due to use of social networks to publish dissent with official national policy.

Not too bothered (5, Interesting)

axlash (960838) | about 10 months ago | (#45505809)

I'm less worried about the likes of the NSA, and more worried about criminal gangs getting hold of my data and using it to make my life a misery through identity theft.

Anyhow, the way these things work is:
- Either a very small percentage of people are seriously affected by breaches in privacy, in which case I don't need to worry too much about it, or
- A significantly large number of people are seriously affected, so that it becomes a political issue and there's a push to do something about it.

Re:Not too bothered (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 months ago | (#45505855)

what makes you think that 20 000 contractors wouldn't be a way for the information to leak to criminals or that 20 000 contractors wouldn't use in a fashion that would be criminal for anyone else?(you know, like using your identity to email hack someone else and you ending up as the fall guy...).

Re:Not too bothered (5, Informative)

somenickname (1270442) | about 10 months ago | (#45506009)

The NSA *is* a criminal gang. And, it's a criminal gang that can put you in jail for breaking laws that you don't even realize you are breaking.

Re:Not too bothered (1)

rastos1 (601318) | about 10 months ago | (#45506303)

it becomes a political issue and there's a push to do something about it

Yeah, that usually works sooo well.

Proxies and encryption (5, Informative)

MoonFog (586818) | about 10 months ago | (#45505825)

I think it's important to protect my privacy despite not having much they are interested in. I encrypt my harddrives, have my own domain with e-mail that I've set up with GnuPG on my workstation and laptop, I sometimes use the TOR bundle as well as a USB with Tails on it. The simplest thing is that I subscribe to https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/ [privateint...access.com] to get proxy/VPN access to the net. Also, setting Firefox up with HTTPS everywhere, DNTPlus, NoScript etc. is important.

It doesn't take much to make their jobs harder. I use these things also for everyday items, it's not like I fire up PIA to "go dark and do evil stuff". I've plenty of friends that don't see the point of doing what I do when what I use it for isn't illegal, but privacy means privacy from prying eyes, I decide what I share with others.

Re:Proxies and encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505991)

And where are they? [privateint...access.com]

We are located in the US. Being in the US is optimal for VPN Privacy services since the US is one of the few countries that does not have a mandatory data retention policy. Countries in the EU are forced to log, even though some claim they do not.

Re:Proxies and encryption (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 10 months ago | (#45506029)

proxy/VPN access to the net.

Since it isn't obvious, there are two ways that VPNs help:

(1) They mix your traffic in with everybody else using the same proxy - when you are at home your IP address is generally yours alone, but with one of these proxy services there could be hundreds of people using the same IP address.

(2) You can easily switch between proxies. The service I use has about 20 proxies in the US alone. Whenever I do something where I have to explicitly hand out identifying information (like make a purchase with paypal) I switch to a different proxy for just that one transaction and then move on to a 3rd proxy or back to the original proxy as soon as that specific transaction is done. That makes it harder to correlate any of the other websites I 'anonymously' browsed with the information I had to give up to in order to make a purchase.

Re: Proxies and encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506159)

Http proxies can add (if configured to do so) an header reporting the real IP, so even if you are behind a proxy they will get your IP

Re: Proxies and encryption (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 10 months ago | (#45506199)

Http proxies can add (if configured to do so) an header reporting the real IP, so even if you are behind a proxy they will get your IP.

They can indeed. You can use this website to see if your browser is doing that, it is the HTTP_X_FORWARDED_FOR header.

http://ipinfo.info/html/privacy-check.php [ipinfo.info]

With the right plugin you could also configure your browser to spew random ip addresses in the forwarded-for header if your proxy doesn't put one itself.

In Soviet Russia, the Party will find YOU! (1)

Thor Ablestar (321949) | about 10 months ago | (#45506285)

Since it isn't obvious, there are two ways that VPNs help:

(1) They mix your traffic in with everybody else using the same proxy -

Once upon a time when the trees were green I logged to some VPN. Then I found the output proxy address of this VPN and entered

$ ssh this_address

- and logged into my own system. It means that this specific proxy does NOT mix any traffic. And BTW I don't fear NSA which supervises this VPN, I fear only The Party. And also if you think that The Party cannot separate your traffic from the mix - you are wrong.

What's DNTPlus? Is it free software? (1)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | about 10 months ago | (#45506179)

I can't find DNTPlus.

I found something similar-sounding on addons.mozilla.org, called DoNotTrackMe, but it's proprietary software so there's no way I'd trust it with my privacy.

(I'm also looking for a free software alternative to Ghostery if anyone has suggestions.)

Re:What's DNTPlus? Is it free software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506207)

Yes, check this [disconnect.me] out.

ALWAYS BE PARANOID (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505851)

Program your own two-way Firewall.
Get an svchost.exe analyser. You'd be amazed how many are running on your Windows machine and only MS knows what they are sending and receiving!
Don't use Gmail, Yahoo and Facebook (goes without saying, NO MICROSOFT).

Re:ALWAYS BE PARANOID (3, Informative)

1s44c (552956) | about 10 months ago | (#45506105)

Don't use windows. Even if you don't believe the NSA backdoored windows the NSA do get every bug alert long before anyone else does. They also have no problem using script kiddie tactics.

Using windows is like storing your data in a transparent bag in full view of the world.

A few things... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505859)

I'm currently...
1. Educating myself on how encryption works
2. Resetting all my passwords (I have been keeping a secure record of mine for years), using unique, random passwords and using 1Password for secure storage
3. Continuing to store my secure information (personal info, legal documents, financial histories, etc) in a 2048 bit encrypted disk image not stored on my computer
4. Informing my friends and family about the true depth of the NSA's activities and why they matter

I plan to...
1. Make Epic my default browser: http://epicbrowser.com/
2. Use a Tor box: http://pogoplug.com/safeplug
3. Purchase a small, cheap, air-gappable machine, maybe a Raspberry Pi: http://www.raspberrypi.org/
4. Look into more extreme measures such as device self-destruction on tamper and surgical data storage under the skin

I probably have less to hide than the average citizen. But as we all know, it's not about having nothing to hide. It's about the presumption of innocence and the right to privacy.

Re:A few things... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505881)

I forgot to mention. I'm also looking into IRL security. I want to be able to travel or be in a space with a less than average chance of being identified as being there, even if there is surveillance going on. I think high-power, infrared LEDs embedded in glasses frames would prevent most camera surveillance from seeing anything other than a bright spot for your face. If anyone has any suggestions for a convenient faraday cage cell phone case, I'd love to hear it. Lastly, I've briefly looked at the stuff in the "How to Disappear" community, who have already figured some of this stuff out.

Re:A few things... (4, Insightful)

1s44c (552956) | about 10 months ago | (#45506077)

faraday cage cell phone case

Just take the battery out. Physically remove it. Or if you want to be 110% sure don't carry a phone at all, it's not like it's law that you have to carry one.

Re:A few things... (2)

namgge (777284) | about 10 months ago | (#45506267)

... don't carry a phone at all, it's not like it's law that you have to carry one.

Yet.

Pidgin + OTR plugin (1)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 10 months ago | (#45505871)

For most of my personal communication I use the pidgin instant messaging client [pidgin.im] with the Off-The Record plugin [cypherpunks.ca] for easy encrypted messaging on (nearly) any OS. The tough part is talking friends into using it as well. Of course, the NSA could still break into this stuff, but it would certainly waste their time and resources.

Dont (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505875)

Hav given up

Depending on the platform, there are some options. (4, Interesting)

c.r.o.c.o (123083) | about 10 months ago | (#45505879)

The issue is you cannot protect your privacy directly from the NSA. They seem to have tapped communication between Google data centres, can request any information they wish from any company (Google, FB, your local ISB and phone provider, etc), so the only option is limiting the amount of data you provide. Interestingly I started taking the following steps even before the leaks simply because I became uncomfortable with the major corporations gathering my data and then changing their privacy policies at will. That's not how contracts are supposed to work, and disagreeing doesn't seem to have any effect. Once Snowden went public, my paranoia turned out to be justified.

In general terms, I do not share anything truly personal on a public forum. So on FB I never upload pictures, I do not share places I visit, and I do not provide a phone number. I just use it to set up events like Birthdays or nights out. I do not use twitter, foursquare, pinterest, instagram, myspace or whatever social fad of the day happens to be. It could be that in my early thirties I'm becoming a technology Luddite, but then I was never denied a job because my *insert questionable behavior here* is posted all over the net.

Google is a special case. I started using Gmail when getting invites was almost impossible, and Youtube when they were still independent. So giving up my Gmail account would be a VERY significant undertaking, especially since I couldn't come up with better alternatives (fast, supporting POP3, almost perfect uptime, and guaranteed not to shut down). But I never stay signed into Gmail outside checking my mail, I do not use G+, I stopped using YT while being logged in, and I search through DuckDuckGo. And if anyone can suggest a reliable email provider that is NOT Google, MS or Yahoo, I am all ears.

Getting to specific platforms, on a Windows 7 PC, I use Seamonkey with Adblock Plus and No Script. I also block all third party cookies. I'm also considering adding Ghostery to the mix. This takes care of most of the trackers, cookies, ads, etc. I have not used Linux on a desktop in years, and I am yet to touch Windows 8, so I can't comment there. I also never share my location, although it's pretty braindead to find out where my IP is located anyway.

On my smartphone, I run CyanogenMod without GApps, meaning no Google account, no PlayStore, no Google Maps, etc. You get the idea. Every single app on my phone is installed from F-Droid. I have a fully functional, OSS book reader (Cool Reader), browser (Firefox with Adblock Plus), map application (rmaps), email client (k-9). So my phone is fully functional for my needs without any connection to the Google servers. As before, I never share my location which on a smartphone does make a difference.

This is pretty much what I've done to avoid Big Data without using any functionality and giving up only a bit of convenience. Any suggestions for improvements are more than welcome.

Re:Depending on the platform, there are some optio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505921)

So on FB I never upload pictures, I do not share places I visit, and I do not provide a phone number. I just use it to set up events like Birthdays or nights out. I do not use twitter, foursquare, pinterest, instagram, myspace or whatever social fad of the day happens to be.

You don't use whatever the social fad of the day happens to be.... except, apparently, the biggest social fad of the day ever - Facebook (which just happens to be the one that is the most fervently anti-privacy, and does the most nefarious stuff with your data).

Re:Depending on the platform, there are some optio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505939)

Real men host their mail themselves. From digitalocean.com you get 5 $ a month VPS to do this and pretty much anything which doesn't involve large storage (>20GB)

Re:Depending on the platform, there are some optio (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 10 months ago | (#45506011)

Real men host their mail themselves.

Anti-Spam, anti-virus, blacklists, security updates, and dealing with shit when it goes wrong? ... and it only costs me a fiver to sign up for that grief?

Most real men have better things to do than administer a personal email server.

And to what end? When most of the personal email I get is from other people with gmail/hotmail/outlook/yahoo/or major ISP addresses... so the 'other half' of every conversation is just wide open anyway.

For most of us in that boat, we might as well just use gmail or whatever with imap and pgp or something with as many people as you can. (Makes the web client worthless... but if you can't read it on the web client, neither can google or anyone else.

In Soviet Russia, Windows looks from YOU! (1)

Thor Ablestar (321949) | about 10 months ago | (#45506317)

If you believe that anti-virus and security updates are really needed then you possibly believe that the program should have .exe extension to be executable. Throw away this belief. After this your only problem will be spam. And it's quite easy to fight. You just tell your important correspondents to include some keyword to header and tune your mail client to mark it as NOT SPAM. Every other mail is sorted by built-in spam filter of your client.

Re:Depending on the platform, there are some optio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506065)

uhh.. if "real men" host their mail themself, surely they wouldn't need to use *SOMEBODY ELSES SERVER* to do it on, but would instead host it themselves: ON A SERVER THEY OWN, NOT RENT

Re:Depending on the platform, there are some optio (1)

koona (920057) | about 10 months ago | (#45505961)

> And if anyone can suggest a reliable email provider that is NOT Google, MS or Yahoo, I am all ears. ========= Give these guys a try: https://www.fastmail.fm/ [fastmail.fm]

Re:Depending on the platform, there are some optio (2)

1s44c (552956) | about 10 months ago | (#45506055)

Give these guys a try: Your own dam server that you control.

Re:Depending on the platform, there are some optio (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506275)

Very nice in theory, but having administered an Internet-facing mail system myself that quickly becomes a real pain in the butt. It's not as simple as slapping together Postfix and Cyrus IMAP or whatever and setting up your DNS records. Administering an Internet-facing mail system can very quickly become a full-time job if you want the mail system to be anything approximating usable. Spammers will see to that.

Re:Depending on the platform, there are some optio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506211)

I was going to suggest Fastmail.fm as well. Been using them for over a decade. Highly recommended.

Re:Depending on the platform, there are some optio (2)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | about 10 months ago | (#45506149)

I use Seamonkey with Adblock Plus and No Script. I also block all third party cookies. I'm also considering adding Ghostery to the mix. This takes care of most of the trackers, cookies, ads, etc.

Not Ghostery -- it has a dubious mission and works by parsing lists that are growing longer by the week. Try the Request Policy extension for Firefox. Request Policy is simpler. It blocks off-site requests and shows you a list of what each site is requesting. You'll learn just how much tracking is happening and you may begin to avoid sites that you used to trust.

The latest Firefox has a "click to play" feature. Type "about:config" and search for "click_".

I have not used Linux on a desktop in years, and I am yet to touch Windows 8, so I can't comment there.

I prefer Linux on my desktop in every way. Just don't buy Nvidia and Broadcom hardware. Linux provides the tools that show exactly what your computer is doing. Debian 7 is excellent.

Windows 8, like ChromeOS, ties your computer to an e-mail account. Stay away.

Privacy? (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#45505887)

Anything I care to keep private, I don't put on the internet. That's about it.

Re:Privacy? (3, Insightful)

1s44c (552956) | about 10 months ago | (#45506051)

Anything I care to keep private, I don't put on the internet. That's about it.

The facebook spy system encourages others to post everything they know about you. People do that without any understanding of what they are giving away for themselves or for people they know.

This is bad from the simple example of so called friends making sure criminals know when I'm on holiday as well as my home address, to corrupt government spooks having access to everything that anyone ever wrote about me as well as a stream of up to date pictures.

Suckers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505891)

Create thousands of false identities. Let the suckers track them.

Chill Ringo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505893)

I use quadruple rot52 encryption on all of my plaintext files, and I store everything else on an AES encrypted partition and make a point of forgetting the password.

Is it worth protecting? (3, Interesting)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about 10 months ago | (#45505931)

That is the question I'd like to start with. Because I'd answer yes it is. I don't want my identity stolen, my economic future decided by whether my boss sees a photo a friend of a friend of mine posted 5 years ago to a social networking site I didn't join, or my emails to my ex-girlfriend read by anyone other than me or her. So if it is worth protecting, then when we realize "how can you protect your privacy" is really broken up into subdomains, and for many of those the answer is "right now you cannot", we have motivation to then ask "how can we change that?".

Re:Is it worth protecting? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506145)

Many reasons for privacy, and why it is important:

1: Some US DAs are looking for anything they can prosecute. The more beds they keep full in the jails, the more campaign donations likely from private prison corporations. For example, one DA in a nearby town who got a search warrant on a cell provider, found e911 data of anyone in a public park between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM, then had a mass criminal trespass arrest performed. If I remember right (likely there were appeals), all people were convicted because all the DA had to prove that they had their cellphone on them at the time, and all got jail time (where I live, the judges rubber stamp the max sentence, as they court the private prison campaign funds too.)

2: Ex-es and stalkers.

3: Criminals. If you think gangbangers are dumb, think again. Even they will set their .40 by their computer and make deals online (pay some offshore firm a fraction of a BitCoin, the firm sends schedules of when people are not at home, how many guns, if any, that person owns, presence/absence of an alarm, and perhaps the types of locks on the doors.) Home invasions are a big thing these days (life for a burglary versus life for a home invasion... same punishment, so the bad guys go for the rush of jacking people.) Some stuff put on a YouTube channel might get one facing the business end of some meth-head's pistol after the door is kicked down (and trust me, most US "gun nuts" would be doing nothing but pissing their pants if a real gang member actually bothered to kick their door down. Most of the tough talkers have little to no training other than paper, and in reality, it would take them too long for them to grab their piece, and have it readied before the gangbanger has their sawed off 12 gauge pointed in their direction.)

Privacy can be a life or death thing, especially with the fact that police protection in the US tends to be reactive (manning 911, sending officers to a scene) rather than proactive (officers on patrol to notice anything amiss.)

Re:Is it worth protecting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506249)

You're not allowed in public parks between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM? What kind of regulation is that? :/

Don't use "free" services (5, Interesting)

Neelix21 (143043) | about 10 months ago | (#45505949)

The main thing I do to protect my privacy is not to use "free" services, such as Gmail, Hotmail for personal email. I maintain my own server which has a mailserver installed. This means that no-one except me (and anyone who manages to break in) can just access my email.
I live in the Netherlands where ISPs are forced to keep "traffic records" of me. Because I'm an academic I get to use the academic ISP, which is not bound by that law, at least for Internet traffic. But having my own mailserver means that also my my email traffic is not monitored and can not be requested by the police. Furthermore, having your own mailserver and domain also makes it very easy to compartmentalise service subscriptions. Just make a new email address for each service.

I used to use Google Calendar, and Contacts but stopped with that since I discovered that OwnCloud is a really decent private drop-in replacement that you can host yourself.

I use many different privacy plugins (Ghostery, Adblock, etc.), while being aware that this makes my browser ID somewhat unique and identifiable. At least I'm making it harder for them.

I don't use my real name. (5, Interesting)

ugglybabee (2435320) | about 10 months ago | (#45505969)

I don't use my real name on the internet. This is no small thing, because Facebook will throw you off their network for using a fake name, and while I find facebook to be ubelievably drab and awful, I suffer a penalty in relationships from not being on it, since nearly everybody I know has some kind of presense on Facebook, I'd rather not trust the NSA with my personal information, but since i am not a criminal, the potential negative consequences involved are finite. I could be harassed for my views, though they're not particularly extreme, or falsely accused of a crime, But there are a billion people on the internet, and they've got a billion agendas, and i know from experience that some of them can truly be evil motherfuckers. There's no sense in trying to measure or aniticipate what can happen, what they're going to individually decide or figure out. I'm probably safe. I'm a 55 year old male with not much money. Nobody's going to want to stalk me for anything, but I refuse to participate in this crazy experiment whereby we turn down the privacy settings for civilization, and see who thrives, and who gets hurt. Zuck you, Fuckerberg!

Not on FB? Are .you sure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506165)

How do you solve the tagging problem? Your friends get on FB, someone posts a photo of you, that person or someone else tags it with your name and possibly other info. How do you keep your friends from adding you to the FB collective?

Re:Not on FB? Are .you sure? (1)

mrbester (200927) | about 10 months ago | (#45506253)

There are no pictures of me on the internet. Or, if there are, I have been unable to find them. You can't tag what doesn't exist.

Preferred Method (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45505983)

As often and as much as possible, this AC finds it best to treat the internet as read-only.
Any forum I sign up for is done via a throwaway email (usually via mailinator)
I always keep multiple identities and my true/original handle only remains in very old games/irc logs/etc.
I try to read but never post.
Any picture is scrubbed with exiftool before posting, and usually deleted shortly after.
Social media is only for reading, never for communicating. If forced to use it, all info is fake (fakenamegenerator.com) should be the url, pardon any mistypes)
No skype, no AIM, none of that.
Multiple e-mails, with different personalities/names used.
VPN always, and different server locations for different services.
Finally, (among other steps), if I'm not actively on the 'net, the ethernet plug is pulled. Oh, and blocking any possible bg process and using firewall rules.
Trust few, if any. The masses have arrived on our turf. Never do what they do. Why comment? Every comment thread becomes a fight or full of trolls. Trolling was fun, but hold back. Attract no attention. There's no reason to post anything. Can you honestly not find an answer to your question now? If you are at an absolute dead end, learn to search better, and then finally possibly consider asking somewhere as anonymously as possible.

I'm sure there are more precautions, but this seems to be my favorite style at the moment.

Depends on your fears (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 10 months ago | (#45505987)

Worried about governments?

All data leaks eventually.

Your best bet is a thick layer of data that defines you as normal, therefore boring.

Worried about ID thieves?

Try to minimize the number of online retailers you do business with, or credit cards you have - but do keep at least one throwaway card it's really easy to just drop in case it's taken over, for transactions you don't quite trust.

Worried about purchases being tracked back to you? Use cash.

Basically it's not good enough to be worried about "privacy", the term is too all encompassing. Instead start to think about who exactly you are worried about getting what and minimize that risk.

One more (2, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 10 months ago | (#45506021)

Worried about someone finding your child-porn stash?

Don't store it with Google [cbslocal.com]

Basically a lot of the answers to how to avoid "X" would be, don't store that with Google.

It's a rough question though as I have to say I'm OK with Google poking through Picasa in order to catch a real child molester.

Basically I've always assumed myself that anything marked "private" and uploaded to a server I do not control, means it is for my eyes only - plus the eyes of every admin on the system.

Re:One more (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506227)

Every admin on the system is not that bad. But it has now evolved to every intelligence and police operative in the western world. There are 10s of thousands of people working at these places who have direct access to your email and other information without any oversight.

20% of the population on average in pretty much any work place are criminals. Say about 100.000 people who have access to your personal information, about 20,000 of those are using this information to steal identities for their own purposes.

Since those criminals will probably steal quite a few identities, say a 100 each, that means 2,000,000 people will have their identity being compromised. That is still less much less than 1% of the population in the western world, which is probably a drop in the bucket with how pervasive identity theft is these days; so it is not so easy detectible that many of those identities are misused by criminals working at intelligence agencies.

Re:One more (1)

pjtp (533932) | about 10 months ago | (#45506239)

It's a rough question though as I have to say I'm OK with Google poking through Picasa in order to catch a real child molester.

Right, that's a fair statement and I respect your stance; however, I ask you, how many liberties would you give up to protect the children?

You say you would let Google go through your photos... What about your email? What about your documents, your phone calls, your home. How about the government bring you in for questioning once and a while, just to make sure you are a good citizen... Where does it stop? Where do you draw the line and say "no more".

Our rights are being slowly eroded away, all while politicians are waving the terrorist or paedophilia flags in front of us.

Yes, there is privacy... (2)

rusty0101 (565565) | about 10 months ago | (#45505999)

...at least in this day and age. The trick is to remember that any information that is recorded to any form of media, can be stolen, copied, or given away. If you want to maintain something in privacy, it can't leave your head. You can't write it down, or draw, or paint the idea. You can't make a tape of it or a video of it. You can't say it to your lover or spouse.

Of course that makes it incredibly difficult to act on what you maintain in privacy, but that is more of a problem of getting others to work with you in suport of that idea.

There is a presumption of privacy codified in law, however that presumption does not seem to be all that relavent to our current state of govornment or business, so you are pretty much stuck with what you can control. At the moment that's pretty much restricted to what's in your head.

No, I'm not much happy with that either.

No backdoors in encryption (4, Insightful)

1s44c (552956) | about 10 months ago | (#45506005)

Everything Snowden released has shown that the NSA doesn't have magical ways to break modern encryption. They rely on strong-arming various organizations and hacking vulnerable systems.

everything we say is to be used against us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506087)

may as well say something useful,,,,,,

no bomb us more mom us no drone us no bone us

free the innocent stem cells

y chromosome useless? what a shocker? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506131)

us bearded wonders are just place markers? whatever happened to mrs. god, & the missing monkey hymens? hang on to our hemispheres.....

Hide In Plain Sight? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506119)

With the glut of information that's available on everyone these days, it strikes me that the best way to retain your privacy is to hide in plain sight. Allow yourself to be seen and then instantly forgotten.

It's easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45506153)

I use someone elses privacy as my own.

This is relative. (1)

inkrypted (1579407) | about 10 months ago | (#45506161)

I use a very customized m0n0wall running on some older hardware I had laying around. Multiple VPN connections and the biggest factor of all I am not on Facebook blabbing about the mondane details of my everyday life.

Some good tips (1, Insightful)

jones_supa (887896) | about 10 months ago | (#45506163)

Here's some nice tips which won't ultimately solve the problem but which will greatly improve your privacy.

1) Use common sense. Try to imagine which routes your data will take and which providers will it meet. Will those parties snoop on your data (datamining or wiretapping)? What kind of privacy policies do they have?

2) Use encryption in as many places as you can. HTTPS and IMAPS are good start.

3) Do not put important data into services provided by Google, Facebook or other datamining companies. If possible, switch your e-mail account from GMail to your home country ISP or other locally produced service.

4) Consider using Tor for crucial communications. If you need maximum safety, do not send your message through Internet and all.

5) If you need maximum safety, use an open source operating system. For example, NSA may have talked in backdoors to Windows and OSX.

Government doesn't bother me (4, Interesting)

grumbel (592662) | about 10 months ago | (#45506193)

The government snooping around doesn't bother me all that much, as while it might be a waste of money, it really doesn't affect me. It's just dead data sitting around on some NSA server. There is more interesting stuff to read then my email. What I am bothered by is the leaking of private data that happens all over the place, things like the people you follow on Twitter or Youtube being publicly visible information. Why exactly does every modern social webpage treat what are essentially bookmarks as public information and publishes it to the world? Why is everybody just accepting that and not complaining about? You can't even switch it off most of the time. I find that incredible annoying and avoid any service that does that when I can. I don't have much of a problem with my information being out there, but at the very least a service should make it very clear what kind of information is public and what is private and modern services don't really do that.

Another thing I have a real issue with is the starting pervasiveness of requiring real life authentication to log into a webpages. Mobile phone numbers started as just a way to get your password back, but now quite a few webpages are requiring them and Google+ and Facebook have their real name requirements. Furthermore there are more and more webpages that only allow you to access them via your Facebook or Twitter login, not via a webpage specific account. So once Facebook or Google switching on the requirement for a mobile phone number or real name and enforce that, that means your real life identity is linked to a ton of a webpages and you can't stop that from happening unless you completely avoid that webpage, as even Tor doesn't give you a free anonymous mobile phone number.

Re:Government doesn't bother me (1)

dido (9125) | about 10 months ago | (#45506299)

The government snooping around doesn't bother me all that much, as while it might be a waste of money, it really doesn't affect me. It's just dead data sitting around on some NSA server.

Until the day that Grumbel decides to run for Congress, on a platform of returning the protections guaranteed by the Constitution against the encroachments of the NSA. All sorts of "dead data" suddenly comes to life out of context like so many zombies.

I don't care (1)

Sigvatr (1207234) | about 10 months ago | (#45506215)

My idea of privacy is closing the window whenever I watch porn. I don't want to deal with my neighbors complaining to me about having to listen to loud screaming creampies. I don't give a fuck that the Illuminati looks at my browsing history, it doesn't bother me in the slightest.
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