How to protect your privacy on the Internet

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 7, 2012
Updated • Jan 30, 2015

With UK parties proposing to monitor the activities of all country residents come new fears of an 1984-esque government that with a single mouse click can find out everything there is to know about its citizens.

When you look at what is openly proposed in non-totalitarian countries, and the monitoring that happens without the public knowing about it, you'd better be prepared to take your privacy into your own hands.

If the charter passes, UK ISPs and phone providers will be required to record information about the Internet, text (as in SMS) and email use of all British residents.

While that does not include contents, it does include the visited Internet sites, and the people that UK residents have contacted via email or text messages. The data must be retained at least for a 12 month period before it can be deleted.

Protecting your privacy

Here is a set of options that you have to protect your privacy on the Internet and when using your mobile phone.

  • Privacy related browser extensions: Extensions like HTTPS Everywhere or Perspectives can improve your privacy while you are browsing the Internet.
  • Proxies: A proxy server disguises your IP when you make connections. Your ISP would for instance only see your connection to the proxy server and not the actual destination on the web that you are connecting to. This is of course only true if the proxy is configured correctly. Browser extensions like Proxilla or Go2 Proxy make the process more comfortable. You can alternatively check out this free web proxy list or use http / socks proxies instead.
  • Opera Turbo: This is a feature of the Opera browser that redirects all of the browser's traffic through an Opera server. It works like a proxy, but with the added benefit that traffic is compressed on the server to reduce bandwidth costs. While initially designed for low speed Internet connections and pay by traffic plans, it can be used as a proxy. And Opera Turbo is maintained by a reputable company. Update: Google Chrome offers a similar feature now at least in the mobile version (and when you install this extension also in the desktop version)
  • Virtual Private Networks (VPN): VPNs are without doubt the most comfortable and secure option. You establish an encrypted connection to the VPN provider so that spying is stopped in its tracks. The sites you connect to only see the IP of the VPN provider and not your own so that you can't be monitored this way as well (unless you happen to share or leak information on the sites). VPNs come at a cost, usually between $5 to $10 per month.It is recommended to pick a VPN provider that is not operating from the country you are living in, or that has ties to the country as the provider may be obligated by law to record your traffic. Most smartphones support VPN connections as well so that this is taken care of when you sign up for a virtual private network, provided you configure your phone to connect to it.
  • Tor: Tor routes your Internet traffic through several servers that only know the server before and after them in the chain. Tor is free to use, and you can download a variety of tools and programs to use it on your devices. Tor is not only available for desktop computers, but also for Android. The downside is that you can't use TOR that well for for activities that require lots of bandwidth.
  • Encryption / email: If you are using a VPN, then traffic to and from your email provider is automatically encrypted as well. You can alternatively encrypt your emails in Linux or in Thunderbird. Remember that the methods are only effective if all involved parties encrypt their email traffic. It does not do you anything good if you encrypt your email traffic, but a recipient in a country that is spying on its citizens is not.

Closing Words

Did I miss an option that you are making use of? Are you protecting your Internet connection? If so, how?

How to protect your privacy on the Internet
Article Name
How to protect your privacy on the Internet
Find out how you can protect your privacy while you are using the Internet. The guide looks at various options that you can implement easily to do so.

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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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