Who am I protecting my privacy from?
Broadly speaking, there are four immediate threats to digital privacy today:
Your internet service provider
Everything you do online is routed via your internet service provider (ISP). That means they have logs of every site you visit. Most people don't give this a second thought unless they are doing something that is legally or ethically questionable.
Those that dismiss ISP surveillance by claiming that they have 'nothing to hide' are looking at privacy through the wrong end of the telescope. We shouldn't all have to wave our right to privacy because of a few bad actors. And we shouldn't be afraid of being our true selves online for fear that it might fall outside the spectrum of 'normal behavior'.
Our inability to recognize that our own governments are directly threatening our digital privacy is perhaps the greatest sleight of hand and unspoken scandal in a generation. Even after the Snowden revelations, which revealed details of a global surveillance apparatus the likes of which were previously thought impossible, the average citizen didn't even pause for thought.
We now know the facts - every call we make, every email we send, every site we visit is potentially being harvested by government agencies; and yet we sit idly by.
The web is dominated by a handful of powerful companies. There are 63,000 Google searches being carried out every second; nearly 2.4 billion active users on Facebook, close to a third of the world's population. These services have become engrained in our social make up because they fulfil a need, they do it very well… and they are free at the point of use. All they ask for in return is unfettered access to your private data.
And it's a trade-off most of us are willing to make, because let's face it, these services undoubtedly enrich our digital lives – and if we have to give away some of our right to privacy in the process - so be it. Right?
Then there are malicious actors who are much more transactional, but just as invasive, in their approach to privacy. All of your private data, be it your name, your pet's name or your credit card number, is of value to someone.
This prevents both your ISP and government agencies from monitoring your online activity. It also means that you can evade website blocks and other forms of censorship.