28th Jan is Data Privacy Day

I didn’t know there was such a thing called “Data Privacy Day” until I got an email from the CEO from Tresorit, sent to all his service’s users. What is interesting is that privacy’s such an important concept that ensures freedom of speech and democracy, but Data Privacy Day has never been talked about in the media, at least, I’ve never seen it in the media, and so today was the first time I’ve heard of it.

Why is data protection and privacy important? It protects journalists who wish to report on corrupt politicians, or wish to inform the public of the illicit deals politicians make. It protects journalists and allows them to inform us of significant events that affect the quality of our democracy. And it’s not just journalists who need protection, it’s us too.

HackNY Spring 2013 Student Hackathon. CC Matylda Czarnecka 2013. https://flic.kr/p/edufZT

HackNY Spring 2013 Student Hackathon. CC Matylda Czarnecka 2013. https://flic.kr/p/edufZT

George Bush junior used the phrase that if you’ve done nothing wrong, then you’ve got nothing to hide. An American friend of mine echoes this saying, “I’ve got nothing to hide, so if it helps to catch terrorists, then great”. However, not one single terrorist has ever been caught from a dragnet mass surveillance programme. Not one single terrorist plot, we know of, has ever been prevented. We see that terrorist groups are still able to recruit members openly on the internet and spread their propaganda. We see journalists and their sources arrested. Instead of an erosion of our enemies, we see an erosion of our freedoms and democracies (see The Guardian, The Hill, Wired). So, safe, secure access to information and communication is important.

It’s not just an issue with a belligerent government; criminal groups do exploit unsecured communications. Consider your Amazon account, your bank’s online access, your eBay account, too. I’d like to bet you use an email service like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and the like, or even the Apple iCloud system. All of which have been hacked, and passwords obtained and identities stolen (BBC, The Guardian). Thus allowing the criminals to spend your money, or just steal information that may be damaging to your reputation. Consequently, a secure internet is important.

Credit Card Theft, CC Don Hankins 2007, https://flic.kr/p/3qTLZW

Credit Card Theft, CC Don Hankins 2007, https://flic.kr/p/3qTLZW

How can the internet be secured? http://fried.com/privacy/ has a long list of over 150 tools you can use to secure your interaction with the internet and keep you safe. In short, you really must have at least these:

  • Encrypted email (like ProtonMail), especially to protect your SNS passwords
  • Encrypted cloud storage (like Tresorit, TeamDrive)
  • Encrypted messaging service (like Threema or CryptoCat)
  • Avoid Facebook
  • Use Firefox with Blur and HTTPS Everywhere (I think not all of these are compatible with each other).
  • A Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  • Avoid using your real name on most social networks like Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and others.

Why avoid FaceBook? I’ve written before that it’s just the most creepy organisation there is. The CEO of Tresorit reminds us of this with this simple quote (https://tresorit.com/data-privacy-day):

Facebook conducted a massive psychological experiment on 689,003 users, manipulating their news feeds to assess the effects on their emotions. – Forbes, 2014

I hope you don’t want to be controlled in the future. They also see your data to companies, which results in targeted advertising.