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My #1 online privacy tool

October 27, 2010
Cochin, Kerala State, India

India is a great country that’s full of opportunity… but one of the things that I dislike so much about it is that it’s a rapidly expanding electronic police state.

The Indian government has a habit of monitoring email communications, and you probably remember the recent stink they made with Research in Motion about the Blackberry security algorithms. In the latest round, RIM now has until January 31, 2011 to provide India’s intelligence agencies a way of accessing the data.

To be fair, it isn’t just India… it’s nearly every government on the planet, at least the ones who have the resources and the arrogance to monitor their own citizens in the name of false security.

Some people believe that if they’re not doing anything wrong, they have nothing to worry about.  Well, I’m not one of them. This ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ mentality is a dangerous slippery slope.

Privacy is a right, not a privilege, and we’ve already lost so much of it. Financial privacy, for example, has nearly been vanquished from this earth, and with things like RFID passports anti-terrorism provisions, governments can track most aspects of our lives.

Fortunately, though, online privacy is much easier to safeguard, and there are a variety of cheap (or even free) electronic tools to do this.

We’ve talked before about planting electronic flags; this includes using an email provider that’s based outside of your home country. If you’re a US resident and use Hotmail, or you’re Canadian and use Shaw, any bureaucrat can freeze or seize your email with little effort.

Switching to a number of overseas providers can substantially mitigate this risk, and most of the offshore services are absolutely free.

When browsing the web, you also have to expect that your activity is being monitored and logged. Google, which has the world’s greatest market share of search traffic, routinely archives users’ search requests along with IP addresses and click history.

Needless to say, this information is frequently subpoenaed, and Google complies with lawful requests.

If this sounds OK to you, then you should probably stop reading here.  Otherwise, I’d suggest a number of ways to take back your online privacy.

It honestly takes very little effort to cover your digital tracks these days.  Plenty of free proxies are available– these are websites that mask your IP address and provide a superficial level of privacy. On the downside, they’re not terribly secure, and they have annoying banner links as well.

I use a professional service that’s pretty much the Rolls Royce of online privacy. Not only does it fully mask IP and other identifying information (that the free proxies miss), but it also encrypts all web traffic so that no intelligible information can be monitored.

The service is called Cryptohippie, and I can’t recommend it enough if you’re serious about your online privacy. You can learn more about their service here.

Effectively, the spooks are going to think that you’re in Timbuktu, and even if they could monitor the web activity, all they’ll see is a bunch of gibberish. For me, this not only safeguards my online privacy, but it also protects me when I’m using an open WiFi network in a coffee shop or some other public place.

I should also mention that subscribers to our premium service, Sovereign Man: Confidential, receive a $40 discount on Cryptohippie’s service, plus a 7-day no-risk free trial.

This is on top of many other discounts available to SMC premium subscribers– things like trust fees, second citizenship legal services, incorporation, etc.

Membership also includes timely alert reports full of actionable information straight out of my rolodex, access to the premium site’s thriving online community where members can meet and exchange ideas, and a monthly Q&A teleconference between members and my panel of experts.

Learn more about Sovereign Man: Confidential here

Our goal is simple: To help you achieve personal liberty and financial prosperity no matter what happens.

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About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Molchanie

    As a simple-minded non-geek I have to ask:

    Doesn’t the stealth of Cryptohyppie throw up big Red Flags to the powers-that-be that are trying to keep tabs on you? Aren’t you making yourself doubly conspicuous and suspicious by using this tool?

    • http://justen.us Justen Robertson

      If you use it properly it doesn’t matter how suspicious you look, however it would be somewhat difficult to identify your traffic with cryptohippie in the first place, especially in jurisdictions which require warrants for wiretaps, and virtually impossible to figure out what you’re doing through it without a great deal of inter-jurisdictional cooperation (which never happens).

      If you’re worried about active investigations into your activities “looking suspicious” is no longer a problem (and you definitely need to employ security measures). If you’re not, this is not going to set off any red flags as there is no system in place. In a few years if anti-cryptography legislation passes in your jursdiction(s) of choice that may change, but for now your traffic with cryptohippie or a similar service will not look strange to an outside observer – it’ll look exactly the same at first glance as you talking to any other encrypted service, such as any website that accepts credit card information, online banking, etc.

    • hon788


  • http://justen.us Justen Robertson

    I was pleased to see your recommendation for Cryptohippie! Online privacy is a very important concern and they’re one of the absolute best options out there for non-technical users in this crypto-anarchist’s opinion. There is always going to be a tradeoff between technical skill, convenience and price tag; if you are lacking in technical skill and you want convenience, there’s not a better VPN company out there than Cryptohippie. If paying isn’t an option, check out TOR, http://www.torproject.org, which will require some sacrifices in the convenience field – slow, obnoxious issues with multinational sites and locale detection, other problems, but highly secure. If you have technical skills in cryptography and security you’re not going to need any advice from me so I’ll leave that off. :)

    The discount for cryptohippie is a huge incentive for membership by the way, you really hit it out of the park with that one. That is exactly the kind of thing I’d like to see more of in order to tempt me to shell out some cash.

  • Chuck B.

    “If you’re not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about” is an old, weak, and tired argument. The masses seem to be all to willing to forfeit their rights and freedoms at the whims of Gov’t.
    If you’re not doing anything wrong, then there is no legitimate reason for any gov’t to have you under surveillance to begin with.

  • Joe

    Today, I just deactivated an electronic device that was subsidized. I noticed when I disconnected and immediately the company called me if I need any help. I told them I am fine. Then, they turn into state nanny and told me I need to turn it back on. Whoa! Ok, I am closing the account and please pick up this equipment.

    Private sector can be sneaky sometime but they are not good at covering up. It is time to do some due diligence on your surrounding.

  • BorisV

    Simon, I was kind of surprised too see your “Internet flag” planted in USA. I mean your own previous assessments of US privacy conditions.

    • *69

      @BorisV, the idear is to use thi s tool to plant the the Internet flag outside of the Unitd States. Using this tool doesn’t plant a flag in the US anymore than using Microsoft Office does.

      • BorisV

        Obviously, you are wrong with that statement. Your Internet flag is where your mail server is, where your network services provider is legally/physically (not just ISP, but in wider sense).
        Simon has confirmed that owners of Cryptohippie recognized this weakness in their business, and are going to move out of “land of the free”. Good for them.

  • Joe

    Consider encrypting your emails with PGP. It’s free, easy, and nobody can read it except the recipient.

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