Eight New Year privacy resolutions that everyone can adopt

new-years-eve-hero-HBy Simon Davies

Everyone can be a privacy advocate, so why not start 2016 with a bang with these fun and interesting activities. Go on… you know you want to!

Refuse to hand it over

Just once, when some interfering busybody asks for your personal information, say no. See what happens. The most entertaining aspect is when you demand to know why they want it and under what legal authority they are demanding the information. It`s a fun and educational exercise that benefits everyone.

Make a complaint

Your country probably has a privacy or data protection authority, so use them. Find an issue that bugs you and follow these simple guidelines. DPA`s need to be kept on their toes, so passionate and thoughtful complaints can make a real difference.

Install encryption

No-one pretends that installing encryption is easy, but there`s something really fun and exciting in sending secret messages. Once you get the hang of it, you won`t want to stop. For encryption to make a difference to the surveillance state, more people need to start using it.  Check out the Enigmail page for advice.

Sign a petition

Keep your eye out for online petitions. While they aren`t likely to rock governments, these initiatives are important. They show that people care.

Cause trouble

Go on, it`s fun! Instead of muttering quietly to yourself when your employer does something invasive, or when your child`s school installs CCTV in the locker room, cause a scene. Start a letter writing campaign. Demand to talk to the people responsible. Let them know they too are being scutinized.

Try a privacy friendly search engine       

You know that most search companies make their fortune from exploiting your behaviour, so hit them where it hurts and try out a privacy engine like Startpage. See how you feel about the experience, and maybe you`ll stay with them.

Hide your online behaviour

You`ve probably heard of the ToR browser. This is a device that uses an elaborate network of connections to ensure that your activities can`t easily be detected. Whilst we wouldn`t recommend ToR for sensitive stuff like online banking, most sites will function when you use the product. ToR is free and very easy to use.

Subscribe to a VPN

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are privacy protecting systems that strip much of your identifying information and which mask your location. There are several sites that review these services, some of which offer free packages. Excellent for downloading content such as the BBC that may not be available in your country.