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How To Avoid Internet Censors Anywhere

 

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Social media is heading towards a dark time in the world over as internet users are increasingly prosecuted for statements they made on Facebook or Youtube, or in some cases, simply read or retweeted. Many are charged with defamation for receiving a post deemed defamatory and could face prosecution.

Here is, according to Forbes,  a quick guide for how to browse the internet safely with the help of some internet experts.

 

  1. Don’t use your real name

One of the ways to trace an internet user is if you use your real name/ email / phone number for logins. The same is true for close variations, like if I used the name “ErinChicago” and posted about Cambodia, this would be easy to trace.

While activism means more when people put their real name on things and take a stand, if you’re not prepared to take the time for calling for a “colour revolution” in a country without an independent judicial system, reconsider. You’d be surprised how many people don’t do this.

  1. Don’t use your personal phone number or email address

Many social media sites ask you to register with your phone number, such as Facebook or Twitter. This is another easy way to track users. A reverse look-up of a phone number or contacting a phone company will quickly reveal the phone subscriber. Buy a prepaid SIM card to avoid this problem.

It’s also very easy to make a second, anonymous email address. Use that for things like site registration, social media registration, to set up your new blog, etc.

  1. Get a VPN
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For those who are unfamiliar with VPNs (virtual private networks), they are a service that helps you to use the internet anonymously by hiding your computer’s address (IP address). While this is necessary to use the internet, it’s also like a fingerprint.

“If you leave a comment somewhere, the site that you leave the comment on gets to see your IP. This IP address is registered to your internet service provider, university or mobile phone provider,” says Leonhard Weese, president of the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong. “If the government wants to know who used an IP, they can ask [the service provider], and they will tell them who used it, if they know.”

Using a VPN will disguise your IP address by creating a “secure tunnel between your computer and every website or application online allowing you to anonymously appear to be anywhere you choose,” according to David Lang, communications manager at VPNExpress, a popular VPN service.

  1. Download Tor Browser

Tor Browser is an alternative internet browser to Chrome/Safari/Microsoft Edge which was designed to protect user privacy. One advantage is that unlike a VPN, Tor is free.

In the words of the website: “Individuals use Tor to keep websites from tracking them and their family members, or to connect to news sites, instant messaging services, or the like when these are blocked by their local internet providers.

“Tor’s hidden services let users publish web sites and other services without needing to reveal the location of the site. Individuals also use Tor for socially sensitive communication: chat rooms and web forums for rape and abuse survivors, or people with illnesses.”

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How good is Tor? It was invented to protect US intelligence communications, although it has its flaws like all browsers.

  1. Don’t use your credit card

Credit cards are the most popular way to pay for things online, such as your VPN subscription, but it’s also a great way to trace purchases. Weese advises paying for things like a VPN with Bitcoin, which can be purchased anonymously, or a prepaid debit card which are offered by companies like Visa. (VPN services like Astrill and Express VPN, for example, both take Bitcoin as well as other forms of payment).

Forbes has a great article explaining the How-To’s of buying bitcoin and keeping it safe.

  1. Meet face to face

In the age of internet surveillance, there’s something to be said for meeting face to face, whether you’re a journalist meeting a source or a group of like-minded individuals hoping to discuss political issues.

Given the rise of online harassment and bullying, it seems people are much more likely to do or say explosive things online that they wouldn’t say looking someone in the eye.

 

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