When we talk about internet privacy, usually the first measures that come to mind are those employed to prevent breaches by cybercriminals, and the theft of confidential data. However, the access of companies like Google and Facebook to our personal information is much more frequent and to avoid this kind of data collection by companies is a much more complex task that we like to believe, fundamentally because all our actions on the internet are monitored and stored without us realizing it most of the time. In this article, you can find some ways to increase your privacy in a digital environment.
The first measure in order to remain anonymous on the Internet, and considerably reduce the amount of data collected about your browsing habits, is to use a secure browser, which can guarantee your privacy. In this matter, Google Chrome is not a reliable option, even if used in incognito mode.
The most powerful alternative is Tor. This browser aggregates browsing data from different IP addresses, preventing the actions of a single user from being analyzed. Open source, Tor also allows access to any page, even if they are blocked in the user's home country.
Another secure browser that can be used is Brave. It guarantees to be faster than Chrome and other conventional browsers while maintaining your privacy. Brave blocks all ads by default and displays on the home screen the total blocked ads and the bandwidth saved by you.
Any online activities you do on Google or other major search tools such as Bing or Yahoo are stored by companies as information about your preferences is stored. With this, they create a profile of each user, knowing their tastes, hobbies, professional activities, and start offering products and services based on these data breaches and collection.
To avoid this kind of monitoring, the solution is to use search engines that do not store or share your search history. The most recommended options are Duck Duck Go, the standard Tor browser search site, for example, and Qwant.
The two previous tips concern techniques that prevent Google and other companies from obtaining information about you and your browsing history through the use of tools that do not store the user’s data. However, in recent years, a new approach to this issue has gained momentum: obfuscation. Its name comes from the phenomenon of having the vision blurred by sunlight. This type of action works in a similar way. What these tools do is give so much information to these companies that the algorithms can't form a clear profile of the user, making it as difficult to 'see' the data clearly similar to when a person who’s looking directly at the sun.
One initiative in this field is AdNauseam. This browser extension clicks (without actually forcing you to access or even open a tab with the content) on all the advertisements that appear to you. With this, the Google Ads algorithm, which controls practically all the advertising ecosystem on the internet, becomes unable to trace your profile.
Another extension that acts to blind the vision of the algorithm is TrackMeNot. Developed by the same creators of AdNauseam, this tool is focused on generating profiles from search engines. It acts by generating automatic searches - in your Google account, for example - so that it is not possible to identify what your interests really are and what is just obfuscation.
The increase in the capabilities of the algorithms to capture and analyze data from users also increases the offer of measures to be employed to block the access of Internet service companies to people's information. If you want to know more about them, the Privacy Tools portal lists hundreds of options of software, tools and other measures to increase your privacy on the Internet.
Monitoring a user on the internet also occurs on smartphones - sometimes even to a greater extent, as it also involves location data. So don't hesitate to also follow the advice given in this article on your cell phone, using, for example, mobile browsers and secure search tools.
A growing concern of smartphone users is about the possibility that calls and conversations near the device are heard and stored by companies. To try to mitigate this risk - which is increasingly greater with the use of virtual assistants - remove the microphone access permission to apps that do not require this to function properly.
To do this on Android devices (the path may vary slightly depending on the manufacturer and model), go to Settings and go to Privacy > Manage permissions. In the list that appears, select Microphone and you will see all apps with access to it. Click on the ones you want to withdraw the permission and press the Deny box.
Do the same procedure for other undue permissions in this and other sections, with special attention to applications capable of accessing your camera, location and schedule.