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How to protect your online privacy

Online privacy (also known as 'internet privacy') is the privacy protection in place for a user that protects their data, and digital identity from being used to track the user, and eventually market to the user based on the information gleaned from their habits and personally identifiable information. The most common elements which reduce online privacy are a users search history, social tracking signals, website cookies, IP address, and the click-through history.

Why is online privacy important?

Online privacy reaches and impacts every facet of a person's online and even some offline activity. This reach can be used, and is often abused by governments as well as private organizations and businesses. This exchange of information is framed a give-and-take relationship where a user gives up some personally information and habits in exchange for improved services. But this is often not the case, and the only 'benefit' the user receives is the barrage of ads, and direct marketing emails at best, and the violation of their civil liberties at worst. So online privacy, though not presented as such, is part of the foundational right to freedom and self determination that is every person's God-given right.

Privacy vs security

Online privacy and security have areas where they overlap, but they are distinct in that online security generally refers to steps that a person can take to reduce the chances of personal or financial damage by online activity. Online security entails steps such as using strong passwords, keeping software up-to-date (to ensure security updates are installed), the ability to understand and identify phishing, and other similar illegal activity.

Privacy, on the other hand, is the control over the information that service providers are able to collect and generate a profile for a user. This is a profile which can then be used to reliably identify a person through their digital fingerprint that includes search history, social activity, website cookies, IP address, and their browsing click-through history. Proponents of online privacy agree that each user should have complete control over the information collected, and the way it is used, and their say-so should be through explicit consent. Another point of contention is that each activity which produces privacy-damaging pieces of data should only be the result of an explicit action by the user to consent to the collection and use of the data.

Biggest online privacy issues

There are a growing list of privacy considerations that users need to keep in mind, but there are some fundamental concerns which need to be addressed first. These privacy issues have the most impact on how detailed each person's trackable profile looks, and how detailed it is. Take care to address each of these areas, the best you can.

How to improve your online privacy

Each of the areas mentioned above can impact your online privacy. Addressing each point of weakness will improve your privacy, and reduce the ability of trackers to build an accurate profile on you. The most basic step you can take to help improve your online privacy are:

To further, you can pay for VPN services which will further anonymize you as you browse the web and use online services.