Now that it looks like the NSA and major tech corporations including Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, YouTube and others have partnered up to spy on anyone using those sites and services, how can you remain anonymous and protect your right to privacy when you're more than likely using at least one of them on a daily basis? Despite the seemingly overwhelming odds stacked against ordinary citizens, there are still steps you can take to safeguard your anonymity. Here's how.
1. Switch To Lesser-Known Web Browsers
Now that we know that Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have been collaborating with the NSA to provide the government with data pertaining to conversations taking place on those services, we can now safely deem the search engines associated with those firms to be unsafe from the prying eyes of both private interests and the federal government. So what's a privacy-loving American to do? Fortunately, there are alternatives.
Say hello to Opera, a Web browser that markets itself as an "alternative" browsing choice. There are both desktop and mobile versions as well, so you can use it when at home and on the go. What's more, you may have unknowingly used Opera already, as it is the default browser for the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii game consoles.
2. Switch To Smaller Cell Phone Carriers
Sure, the big boys like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile may sport the sexiest devices, but is sacrificing your privacy for the next iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S smartphone worth it? Hardly.
Consider switching to smaller carriers like MetroPCS, Cricket Wireless, Net10 Wireless and Virgin Mobile. At this point, none of these companies have been named as NSA and Prism program collaborators, so they could reasonably considered to be safe -- for now, anyway.
3. Close Your Facebook, Gmail, Skype And YouTube Accounts
Do you truly need to share the details of your life to everyone every waking moment? There used to be safer, more anonymous ways of doing this without broadcasting it to the whole world: journals and photo albums. Besides, you don't need to have a YouTube account in order to watch YouTube videos. Smaller email services like Thunderbird work just as well as email.
4. Pay In Cash As Much As Possible
Now more than ever, it should behoove you to safeguard your financial data. Credit card transactions are fast and convenient, but this is the world we live in now. Protecting your data will be difficult, but if you value your privacy, the extra effort is worth it.
5. Watch What You Say
How does one keep out of the government's radar now that we know that the Internet is an obscenely massive corporate-government vehicle for mining citizens' data? Do your best to limit Internet usage, and, when you do use it, refrain from divulging personal information. In other words, watch what you say. After all, certain keywords are monitored.
What do you think of the above tips? Are there any that you would abide by? Do you think that there are any missing from this list? What do you think of the Prism, NSA and corporate involvement in the data-mining program? Sound off in the comments below.