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Your online activities are now being tracked and recorded by various government and corporate entities around the world. This information can be used against you at any time and there is no real way to “opt out”.
In the past decade, we have seen the systematic advancement of the surveillance apparatus throughout the world. The United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada have all passed laws allowing, and in some cases forcing, telecom companies to bulk-collect your data:
United States – In March 2017 the US Congress passed legislation that allows internet service providers to collect, store, and sell your private browsing history, app usage data, location information and more – without your consent. This essentially allows Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and other providers to monetize and sell their customers to the highest bidders (usually for targeted advertising).
United Kingdom – In November 2016 the UK Parliament passed the infamous Snoopers Charter (Investigatory Powers Act) which forces internet providers and phone companies to bulk-collect customer data. This includes private browsing history, social media posts, phone calls, text messages, and more. This information is stored for 12 months in a giant database that is accessible to 48 different government agencies. The erosion of free speech is also rapidly underway as various laws allow UK authorities to lock up anyone they deem to be “offensive” (1984 is already here).
Australia – In April 2017 the Australian government passed a massive data retention law that forces telecoms to collect and store text messages, phone calls, location information, and internet connection data for a full two years, with the data being accessible to authorities without a warrant. (See the Australia VPN guide for more information.)
Canada, Europe, and other parts of the world have similar laws and policies already in place.
What you are witnessing is the rapid expansion of the global surveillance state, whereby corporate and government entities work together to monitor and record everything you do.
What is going on here?
Perhaps you are wondering why all this is happening.
There is a simple answer to that question.
Just like we have seen throughout history, government surveillance is simply a tool used for control. This could be for maintaining control of power, controlling a population, or controlling the flow of information in a society. You will notice that the violation of your right to privacy will always be justified by various excuses – from “terrorism” to tax evasion – but never forget, it’s really about control.
Along the same lines, corporate surveillance is also about control. Collecting your data helps private entities control your buying decisions, habits, and desires. The tools for doing this are all around you: apps on your devices, social networks, tracking ads, and many free products which simply bulk-collect your data (when something is free, you are the product).
This is why the biggest collectors of private data – Google and Facebook – are also the two businesses that completely dominate the online advertising industry. So to sum this up, advertising today is all about the buying and selling of individuals.
But it gets even worse…
Now we have the full-scale cooperation between government and corporate entities to monitor your every move. In other words, governments are now enlisting private corporations to carry out bulk data collection on entire populations. Your internet service provider is your adversary working on behalf of the surveillance state.
This basic trend is happening in much of the world, but it has been well documented in the United States with the PRISM Program.
So why should you care?
Everything that’s being collected could be used against you today, or at any time in the future, in ways you may not be able to imagine. In many parts of the world, particularly in the UK, thought crime laws are already in place. If you do something that is deemed to be “offensive”, you could end up rotting away in a jail cell for years. Again, we have seen this tactic used throughout history for locking up dissidents – and it is alive and well in the Western world today.
From a commercial standpoint, corporate surveillance is already being used to harvest your data and hit you with targeted ads, thereby monetizing your private life.
For decades, politicians from all sides (left and right) have worked hard to advance the surveillance agenda around the world. Therefore the issue of online privacy is not about one politician or a certain political party. Instead, it is about the steady advancement of surveillance and data collection measures, carried out by whoever is in power.
But not to worry!
You can take concrete steps right now to secure your data and restore your privacy using the free information and tools on this website.
Using a privacy-focused browser, ad blockers, and a good VPN will go a long way to restoring your privacy in just a few minutes. Check out the privacy tools page and all the free guides on this site to get started.