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Most of the recent stories about big data collection and breaches have a central theme: the little guy matters and can do something.
Whether that individual is a Facebook user who refuses to give the site her real name, an NSA whistleblower who tells the world when it’s being watched, or a person using a tool to block companies from tracking him online, each person has the power to move privacy forward or diminish it.
Offer a next of kin who knows the number instead, and your phone number for billing issues.) Almost every day somebody asks for your Social Security Number and, like the Grand Marshal of a parade throwing rose petals or candy to the crowd, you probably give it up without giving it a second thought — because that’s what you’ve always done.
I guess it’s because we’ve always asked for it.” (In actuality, most doctors ask in case your insurance doesn’t pay the entire invoice and/or to fill out a death certificate if you die.
That’s the big question in the wake of the NSA surveillance news that’s shaken the nation. There’s no way to block NSA surveillance completely. It’s important to remember that almost all surveillance starts with private companies.
Even if you rebelled against technology, ditched your mobile phone, and avoided using heavily-tracked web services like Facebook and Google, you’d still be on surveillance cameras that capture your face, license plate scanners, and credit databases, among other things. Apple, AT&T, Microsoft, Google, Verizon…companies like these mine your data for commercial reasons, but they end up having to give it up to law enforcement when asked.
Only provide personal information if you’re the one who controls the interaction. Public schools: Your utility bill confirms your address.
If they call, check the credit or debit card that is the subject of the communication, call the customer service number listed on the back, and ask for the security department.
If they email or text, do the same, or go directly to the institution’s website (provided you know who they are).
Here are some of our favorite tools that you can try: Internet Service Provider (ISP): Sonic Wireless provider: Cricket Encrypt an email account you already have: Thunderbird with Enigmail; Mac Mail with GPGTools; Outlook with GPG4Win Private email clients: Unspyable, Countermail, or Shazzle Search engines: Ixquick and Duck Duck Go Mobile calls: Red Phone, Silent Circle Android proxy: Orbot i OS proxy: Foxy Proxy (configure it as a proxy, not a VPN) Mobile photos: Obscura Cam Text messaging: Text Secure Online tracker blocking: our very own DNTMe Web-based chatting: Adium with OTR, Cryptocat Mobile chatting: Chat Secure (i OS)Virtual private networks (VPNs): i VPN, Private Wifi Hard drive encryption: True Crypt Web browser: Tor Browser (and Mozilla’s Firefox is the best major browser on privacy) Mobile browser: Onion Browser (i OS), Orweb (Android) There’s an emerging consumer privacy movement built around the premise of giving regular web users (regardless of tech-savvy) the power to limit the personal info collected about them, so expect the usability and availability of privacy tools to skyrocket soon.
For example, if you’re a user of our stuff, then you probably know that we have a tool in the works that will help mask your contact information.
Here’s a short list of companies and organizations that have absolutely no business requesting your Social Security number: 1.