Personal privacy progress

About six months ago I wrote a post about the steps online I was going to take post the initial PRISM revelations. I thought I would revisit it quickly and just see where I am now. At the time I said;

In place at the moment I use; – Ghostery – to block tracking tools on websites. I allow Google Analytics and a couple of other similar things as I rely on them alot myself so would be hypocritical.

– HTTPS Everywhere – been using this at home for a while. Its a plugin for Firefox and Chrome. What I am going to do going forward;

– I’m going to sign back up as a Open Rights Group member – was sorry to miss ORGCon this weekend which couldn’t have been better timed.

– look in to swapping my browser to Chromium – I’d like to use Firefox but it still seems to have a memory leak issue and kills my laptop on a regular basis.

– give DuckDuckGo another chance. Actually this is more to do with missing ‘real’ search results and escaping the personalisation bubble.

– look in to adding some encryption to my hard drive. Don’t know much about this sort of thing but it seems sensible.

What I am not going to do;

– start using Tor. I have tried this a couple of times and my laptop performance suffers too much.

– give up using GMail – I realise this probably leaves me open to the most surveillance of all but the simple fact is convenience outweighs paranoia for the immediate future.

Well I’m still using Ghostery and HTTPS Everywhere. I’ve also added AdBlock Plus. It is noticeable how often this combination actually breaks the web! Disqus comments pretty much vanish as do a lot of JS type slideshows and other bits and pieces. I cope without them but it can be frustrating. When I use Firefox I am also experimenting a bit with Mozilla Lightbeam.

I signed back up for ORG and have make a couple of additional donations off the back of individual campaigns. I’ve been reading much more from ORG, the EFF and people like Cory Doctorow to try and understand this space better as well. I’ve got a long way to go but I’m getting there.

I have used Chromium as my main browser successfully for this entire period – it sometimes doesn’t play nicely with videos foursome reasons but otherwise it has been fine. I have been slowly creeping back towards using Firefox again though. I live in hope of a version that doesn’t suck the life out of my Air.

DuckDuckGo has been a major success. It has totally replaced Google as my main search engine. A few tweaks to my browsers at home and at work made it the default search from everywhere and I couldn’t be happier. The only thing I still return to Google for is image search – especially recently since the update to make it easier to filter by usage rights.

Adding encryption to my Air hard drive still hasn’t happened – I still want to do this but I haven’t spent enough time researching it. I still have not intention of using Tor – especially as it seems a little compromised anyway – but I am increasingly keen on the idea of moving away from Gmail. To be honest I was willing to live with the privacy issues but the ever-increasing Plusification of the service is just annoying as our the constant UI tweaks. I’m taking my time on this one though – I still haven’t seen an email service which offers the functionality of an early Gmail even but I’ll keep looking.

I still use Facebook but pretty carefully these days. I check the privacy settings on a monthly basis. I also no longer carry a smartphone so that limits my exposure somewhat!

So I’d say that I deserve a C+ for effort – the email thing is a major thorn in my side though – someday someone will come up with sensible solution!


3 responses to “Personal privacy progress”

  1. Hi Matt,
    I delayed switching on encryption on my MacBook for a long time, but eventually took the plunge.
    The only difference it makes is that when you boot up the login screen comes up almost immediately, and then there’s a little delay in getting everything sorted out afterwards.
    Apart from that I’ve not noticed any performance problems. And it’s very easy to switch on.

  2. Yea I don’t know why I don’t get around to it – always seems just a bit too much effort! I will get it done though..

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