Invading your privacy without your permission is essentially theft, yet it happens every day on the internet and without consequence. Large corporations, law enforcement, the government, and just about anyone who knows how to use the internet, can easily obtain your personal information in a matter of seconds.
It comes as no surprise that anything you intentionally post online can be used to your detriment, but did you know that information brokers are collecting your personal information regardless of what you’ve decided to share yourself?
They use information such as your phone number, address and even your social security number to line their pockets. Details about you that can’t be found for free are provided by information brokers in exchange for a small fee, allowing them to get rich on the invasion of peoples’ privacy.
To see how easy it is to obtain someone’s address, try running a Google search of your name and the city you live in. The results might surprise you but what’s truly shocking is that they serve as only one example of why you need to care deeply about internet surveillance.
Here are some other reasons you should be concerned:
Using an Alias Isn’t Effective
Even if you decide to use an alias online, it won’t be very effective at hiding your identity or protecting your data. At some point or another, you’ll probably have to make a payment online or sign up for something that requires you to provide your address and phone number anyways.
Websites, as well as advanced users, can also track your IP address, which provides your location. By knowing your location, they can ultimately determine who you are, so using an alias won’t help. You can try to use public Wi-Fi so your home address can’t be determined by your IP address, but there’s still the issue of surveillance.
Hackers can use unsecured networks, such as public Wi-Fi, as an access point to spy on your online activities and obtain your personal information. They can see your files on your computer, cell phone, or tablet, which may provide clues about your identity.
Criminals Use the Internet
The invasion of your privacy online isn’t just a violation of your personal freedoms; it can also put you at risk. Criminals often use the internet to their advantage because the ease of retrieving information about people makes it easy for them to commit crimes and even stalk people. Identity theft is one of the main issues you need to be concerned about since your social security, full name, address, and phone number are within anyone’s reach.
As mentioned above, other personally identifiable information can also be located by those who know enough about technology to hack into your data. For example, if a hacker is spying on your online activities and you visit a website and enter your debit card number, they now have those details. Account logins are especially vulnerable and accounts tend to contain enough of your personal data for a criminal to commit identity theft.
Another concern is that information about you listed on the web is sometimes linked to your family members, making it a possibility for them to be targeted as well, even if they don’t use the internet.
Though internet surveillance is common and not entirely avoidable, there is a way you can maintain your digital freedom. A proxy service is one of the best ways to protect yourself, as it’ll hide your IP address and at the very least provide a level of anonymity you won’t have otherwise.
When you use a proxy service, you’re able to connect to a remote server that’s encrypted, essentially securing your internet connection while masking your IP address. Since the same remote server is used by a number of other users, your identity can’t be traced.
Any data about you that is already present online (for example, that which has been collected by information brokers) will still exist, but you’ll be able to put a halt to the majority of future surveillance efforts.
Do you have any additional advice that can help others avoid internet surveillance? Let us know in the comments below.
* Carla is an online security expert and freedom advocate. In her spare time, she often finds herself engrossed in reading blog posts, particularly those that focus on stemming the tide of growing government interventionism.
Image: New Eastern Outlook