Author: InvisibleUser Team
You may ask yourself why privacy and security should be important to you. You are not a criminal or terrorist, you have nothing to hide. Why do you need privacy, then? You are one of the good guys! Well, that does not stop governments or companies from collecting all the data about your private life that they can get. In the future, you will have to justify any action you take, despite not having done anything wrong.
You are a decent person, we know that, but please stay with us here: Even if you have nothing to hide, you definitely have some areas in your life, you do not want the public to know about. Be it your political opinions, your sexual orientation, the group of people you associate with in private or your browsing history on the internet.
Take health insurance companies, for example: When you google possible symptoms of skin cancer, do you really want your insurance company to know about it? That could directly harm you financially if your insurance requests higher premiums from people with preexisting conditions or penalise people that have lied about their health when signing the contract. There are far more examples of how a lack of privacy could negatively impact your life, this is just one out of a thousand. What can your employer find out about your internet habits? Will this damage your career opportunities? What information about your internet persona do advertising companies use to manipulate you into buying more products? These are questions you should ask yourself and the answers might distress you.
One type of organisation is especially involved in collecting information about what you do in the digital world, your internet service provider (ISP). They are your gateway to the World Wide Web (WWW) and other parts of the internet, so they are sitting right at the source.
Internet service providers can and will watch or store everything you do online. They know all the things you search on Google, everything you buy online and every website you visit. It is illegal to sell this information to companies, but they happily share it with law enforcement and intelligence services.
In fact, they are legally required to do so in most countries and have to give your activity and browsing history to the feds, as well as give them direct access.
“Modern ISPs integrate a wide array of surveillance and packet sniffing equipment into their networks, which then feeds the data to law-enforcement/intelligence networks (such as DCSNet in the United States, or SORM in Russia) allowing monitoring of Internet traffic in real time.” – ISP wiki
Therefore, you should make sure they never get all that information in the first place and apply the security and privacy measures you will learn in the following chapters.
Remember that everything you do could potentially be used against you if you do not keep others from seeing your actions on the internet. That is why privacy is important. Your actions and communication can be taken out of context. This can lead to prosecution and creates an environment of fear for a lot of people in authoritarian regimes where not staying hidden can be detrimental to your freedom and physical safety.
Data collection on the internet paints an inaccurate picture of you as a person. Searching for controversial topics on the internet for example, does not mean that you are dangerous or evil.
You are just interested in the topic you typed into the browser, but the artificial intelligence algorithms that collect that data do not understand that and will put you in a pigeonhole. The dystopian idea of total control through storing information about citizens is not science-fiction. Such data mining systems exist and are used widely, for example on >93% of websites. That is the percentage of websites that use Google trackers.
We have to find ways to limit their power. Knowledge is power! Aside from oppressive governments, your data can be used against you to damage your reputation. This could lead to financial damage or destroy your business and your career.
These days, surveillance is off-limits and the boundaries of your personal space are lost. This development is nothing new. Examples of total surveillance are plenty in history, think of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), China, the UDSSR and North Korea.
It always ends with loss of human rights like freedom of speech, freedom of the press and corruption. The bugs that were installed secretly in the apartments of GDR citizens were quite similar to the Amazon Alexa personal assistant devices that listen to our private communication today. The only difference is that we actually spend money on Alexa!
The major problem there is with mass-surveillance and data retention is that it always affects the wrong people. Terrorists, organised crime and hackers use secure communication or meet in person! Do you really think that ISIS terrorists talk about their plans for a terrorist attack with an Alexa in the room? **No, not at all! They also avoid phone calls, unencrypted chats like Skype and Gmail. The **surveillance of the normal, unencrypted internet has never and will never prevent a terrorist attack. It is just done to keep the population under control.
To close this section, some encouraging words: We really do not want you to become paranoid. Instead, focus on solutions. There are many ways to protect your privacy and most of them will not reduce convenience when using your electronic devices. We will do our best to help you give Big Brother a hard time trying to get your data.