5 internet privacy functions you need to protect yourself
The primary appeal of the internet is its accessibility. It’s easier than ever before to go online to read, shop, work, create, share, and stay in touch with the people you love. The problem, though, is that this level of accessibility also extends to your personal information.
As a result, privacy in the digital space has diminished. The normalization of sharing and the rise of data tracking have gradually changed the meaning of internet privacy. Now, protection over your personal information isn’t automatically granted or guaranteed. What’s more, many companies aren’t forthcoming about what they do with your data. In a 2018 survey from Acxiom, 84% of consumers said they want more transparency about how their data is used.
Of course, this doesn’t mean privacy is unattainable. There are plenty of resources and tools that can help you guard your personal information against advertising companies and websites. Here are the five best internet privacy functions:
The ability to check whether or not your data has been exposed
The ability to keep your personal information private
The ability to stay private on public Wi-Fi
The ability to log in easily and privately
The ability to block trackers
Consider how these different capabilities can help you take control of your online experience.
1. The ability to check whether or not your data has been exposed
The first step to improving your internet privacy is understanding exactly how exposed you are. It’s important to know how much of your personal information is available online, as well as who has access to it and for how long. After all, it’s difficult to trust that companies are using your data responsibly. According to a 2018 survey from IBM, 41% of consumers said they don’t feel confident in a company’s ability to protect their private information.
But a tool that allows you to scan for data breaches can help. By inputting one piece of information, like your email address, you can see how much of your data is accessible and whether any of it has been compromised. That includes everything from passwords and account usernames to credit card details and addresses.
Knowing which companies have access to your data can help you make more informed choices about your level of internet privacy and what you want to share.
2. The ability to keep your personal information private
When you sign up for a newsletter, buy a birthday gift for a friend, or download an app, you’re required to share personal details, like your email address, credit card number, or social media profile. Though it’s common for websites to demand access to your personal information, it shouldn’t be standard practice.
You can better protect your internet privacy with a tool that lets you mask your email address. Because your email address is tied to your online accounts and web behavior, companies can use it to learn more about your preferences and interests, as well as find out which sites you subscribe to or visit frequently.
According to a 2018 study from Akamai Research, 73% of consumers said they felt websites knew too much about them. With a masked email address, though, you can keep your personal address hidden from websites and third parties. This one simple change can cut down on the number of unsolicited emails and targeted ads you receive, giving you a freer, more private digital experience.
3. The ability to stay private on public Wi-Fi
In an ideal world, internet privacy would be accessible no matter when or where you go online. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Your level of privacy on the internet can change drastically depending on which Wi-Fi network you connect to. Using public Wi-Fi, whether it’s at work or a local cafe, makes your data more visible and vulnerable to potential theft.
That’s why a private connection function is helpful. Some tools let you connect to Wi-Fi privately, which helps ensure your information is encrypted so no one has access to it. That means when you input personal details, like passwords and account usernames, your privacy is better protected.
4. The ability to log in easily and privately
In order to read, shop, browse, or participate in comment threads online, most websites require you to create accounts with usernames and passwords. To save yourself confusion and hassle, you might end up using the same password or password variation for everything — from your online banking portal to your favorite e-commerce sneaker shop.
Using the same password for every account may be convenient and efficient, but it also reduces your internet privacy. That’s why a password manager tool can come in handy. It works by creating strong, unique passwords for every different site you visit, then storing these passwords in an encrypted file so no one can access them. A password manager makes logging in simple and fast, while also helping to maintain your internet privacy.
5. The ability to block trackers
The majority of websites you visit track your online activity, recording the sites you visit to collect information on your personal interests, habits, geographical location, job, and financial situation. Companies often sell your data to third parties for marketing purposes, or create a digital persona and send you targeted ads themselves.
Fortunately, you don’t have to resign yourself to automatic exposure. In the Akamai Research study, 77% of consumers said they would like the ability to control their own data — and a tool that lets you block trackers can help. It works by hiding your data from third parties, which helps limit the amount of personal information companies can gather on you. That way, you can feel free to roam the internet without someone observing your every move.
Privacy is a personal choice
Protecting your internet privacy shouldn’t be complicated. You should have the freedom to decide what you share, how often you share it, and with whom. FigLeaf wants to restore your autonomy by giving you control of your personal information. Rather than feeling forced to accept a state of limited or lost privacy on the internet, you should be able to choose how visible you want to be at any given time.