Online privacy is a subject that we've talked about a few times and Vlad even stated that there's no such thing as web privacy in his article called "Internet Privacy: Myth Or Reality?". So, I guess nobody is going to be surprised by the fact that governments are spying on their own people and that governments are even creating a legal environment for doing so. However, should we care about it and how can we protect ourselves? Here are some of the answers you need.
"Why should I care? I'm not a criminal, I don't have anything to hide." This is a very common answer and also one of the most ignorant ones. Governments from all over the world aren't only forcing Internet providers to keep lists with all the websites that each customer has visited, but they also make companies create hackable hardware and software, hand over emails, decrypt content and more. What many people don't get is that this data isn't just made available to the police or the secret service of their country, but also to dozens of other authorities such as the IRS, the health department, social services, gambling commissions, etc. Furthermore, even if you don't have anything to hide, other members of your society who influence your life might want to be able to keep their (non-criminal) secrets without the constant risk of blackmails and threats.
"But it's the government. What can I do?" Fortunately, at the moment, there are still plenty of easily accessible ways that can stop governments and other parties from spying on you or at least restrict their access:
- Proxy Servers - when you use a Proxy server, your ISP can no longer see the websites that you visit; it can only see you accessed the proxy, but nothing more than that. Unfortunately, your browsing speed is drastically reduced and you won't always know who the server belongs to. For a list of proxies that you can use, you should read: "How to Bypass Region-Blocked Content".
- VPN Services - functioning in a similar fashion, VPNs encrypt the flux of data that circulates between your PC and the server while also stopping your Internet provider from seeing what you're doing. If you need help deciding which service to choose, you should check out: "Top 5 free VPN services to protect your privacy in the Web".
- Anti-tracking - unfortunately, Internet providers aren't the only ones keeping tabs on you; there are plenty of advertisers and websites that do that as well. To learn how to keep yourself safe, you should check out out "The Best Privacy Add-ons For Firefox" or read about "How to Stop Google from Tracking Your Every Move on the Web".
- Communications - lastly, you should choose IM services that feature end-to-end encryption like Telegram or WhatsApp, and maybe try to switch to a secure email services like ProtonMail.
There you have it, friends, this is how to protect yourself from government control. Stay safe and remember that privacy should be the right, not a privilege.