Originally published November 8 2014
Five ways to protect your privacy in an increasingly intrusive world
by PF Louis
(NaturalNews) We have moved into the age of Big Brother. Though not as crudely obvious as two-way TVs in everyone's dwelling the way George Orwell depicted in his novel 1984, all the electronic devices we use can be tapped into by Homeland Security, the CIA and the the NSA (National Security Agency).
Let's get a concise understanding of what the NSA is about from a couple of unnamed NSA officials interviewed in 2012 by WIRE magazine, as their hugely sprawling center was nearing completion in rural Utah.
They explained how the NSA had made incredible breakthroughs with cryptanalyzing, or breaking through any and all encryption codes for computers and cell-tower-dependent communications, which are crucial for maintaining privacy and security.
The mammoth Bluffdale, Utah, NSA center will be able to pry into any online activity and cellular or satellite communication anywhere to harvest data for its databanks. According to one of the officials, "Everybody's a target; everybody with communication is a target." 
But it's not just the Big Brother operations that one needs to be wary of. There are private companies and criminal hackers who want to get into your communication systems as well.
(1) Avoiding biometric scanner facial/iris identification:
Biometric scanners are appearing in many train or bus stations, airports, banks, schools, grocery stores, gas stations, ATMs, intersections and even computers and phones. Who knows who ultimately has access to that data?
Some are concerned that scanners can be used to track someone's identity from place to place, and have created several convoluted, impractical measures to avoid being recognized facially or by iris reading that, in this author's opinion, are much ado about nothing.
Besides, some of these silly "solutions" may get you into more trouble, while others are not cost-efficient.  There's a much easier, old-fashioned way. Wear large, high-quality sunglasses.
(2) Don't fill out social network bios:
Why do the snoops and spooks work for them and hand over your personal information and background? There are even cyberstalkers or cyberbullies that may use the information to harass you.
(3) Check out your browser and social network platform's privacy options:
Most major browsers have privacy options where you can disable cookies that enable others to track your interests according to the sites you visit. This is how you get all those unwanted spams and emails that leave you wondering, "Who's this and why did it come my way?!"
Firefox has a privacy box in its "Options" tab with various items you can click to help eliminate some of those cookies when you shut down. For other browsers, look for cogs or wrenches or tools to locate your privacy options.
Social networks have similar options. Twitter's "Setting" cog is in the upper right-hand corner. Facebook's is also in the upper right-hand corner under the option "Who can see my stuff." With Google+, go to "Home," then "Settings" for your privacy options. 
(4) Camouflage your IP address:
Your IP (internet provider) address is a code that gives your computer's location and you away to those who want to track you. But there are surfing tricks to avoid IP disclosures to others.
Tor is a free network of volunteers that route your traffic all around to avoid disclosing your IP address to others. But traveling around may slow your traffic some, and the NSA targets anyone who searches for such privacy software.
Then there are free web proxies such as Anonymouse.org or HideMyAss.com which also work well, but they know your IP address and could be forced to turn it over on court-ordered investigations.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) offers the most secure online activity, but they're not free. Highly recommended Witopia and StrongVPN offer packages from $55/year that don't sacrifice bandwidth or speed. For more details on the pros and cons of these IP-camouflage arrangements, go to source  below.
(5) How to become pro stealth surfer and researcher:
You can read Julia Angwin's strategies that she shares from researching the internet spooks for her book Dragnet Nation here.
Formerly a journalist for The Wall Street Journal, but now an investigative reporter for ProPublica, Julia Angwin has even more eye-opening information to offer for internet security that corroborates and extends beyond what was discussed here.
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