The Truth About Private Browsing

Ever since the start up of PRISM, an Internet surveillance program under the jurisdiction of the NSA, surfing the web anonymously has never been a concept of the internet. Users of the Internet know there is a “big brother” figure watching over them. This figure doesn’t even have to be monitoring you while you are doing the browsing because every link clicked and site visited is saved. Websites use IP addresses to locate users physical locations, which is how many companies advertise to specific crowds of people based on geographic location. This same method is how the NSA identifies specific users of the Internet, linking the IP address to the person’s device.

According to PCWorld.com, there are a variety of methods to covering your data trail on the Internet in efforts to browse anonymously. The easiest and most common method is the use of web proxies. These are kind of like a ‘secret browser’, instead of typing a desired site into the address bar, you simply go onto the website and type it in there and your IP address will be anonymous. Though this all sounds fine and dandy, what most people don’t know is that there is a very big difference between ‘anonymous’ and ‘private’. Websites like Proxify, Anonymouse, and Hide My Ass all offer simple, easy to use ANONYMOUS web browsing when actuality they are only help protect against mass surveillance by governments or private organizations. In the United States, service providers are required to give their data to the government. This means that your choice of data provider whether it be Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, etc. they all give data to the government.

There is another method to hiding your Internet data and it is through a Virtual Private Network (VPN). The concept of this method is pretty self explanatory in the name. VPN’s use a dedicated proxy server for the user that pays to do so. It can sometimes be costly but depending on the work being done on them it may be worth it to the user. Instead of using a single proxy server between your device and the site, it uses many of its own servers and bounces your signal though many of the servers before reaching the actual site, loosing the original location somewhere in the mix. But like a simply proxy, you must input some sort of information to use the VPN (you are paying for it so there is some sort of transaction/receipt). This means that the VPN itself holds your data and if subpoenaed, the government can obtain this information.

The truth is, that as long as you are connected to a data source whether it be a Wi-Fi connection or cellular data, your searches, texts, favorite websites, are all saved. The only way to legally browse is to simply legally browse. A VPN can only cover you as long as you use it within its terms of use, and I guarantee illegal activity on their server isn’t part of it.

Read more about how PC World suggests how to browse safely: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2013534/how-and-why-to-surf-the-web-in-secret.html

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