tuxlerVPN’s Guide Against Internet Surveillance

4 min

As a torchbearer of internet privacy, tuxlerVPN has always strived to educate our users and readers about the hostility of the world wide web and what they can do to protect their privacy, identity, data, and devices while being online. Our resource-rich blog is a product of that effort.

While we have continuously discussed topics that require general awareness, there are always new things to talk about. One of them is the growing menace of internet surveillance.

The explosion of internet users worldwide has given rise to myriad ways of tracking and monitoring. Today, if you are connected to the internet in any manner, chances are that you are being tracked. It could be by a social network that you use to share your photos with friends or your ISP that silently collects data about your browsing behavior to restrict access or enable third-party companies to market products to you.

While some groan this tracking may be harmless and only done to make you more involved in the platform in question, it still demands to be questioned, and if needed, curtailed. After all, any form of surveillance – with or without your permission – should be avoided if it invades your privacy for a reason that is not made very clear by the intruding entity.

We briefly spoke about it while highlighting the growing significance of VPNs during the forced shift in work culture due to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. But we feel there is a need to dig deeper and look for ways in which you can further shield yourself from prying eyes online. Just using a VPN may not be enough.

Here’s our detailed guide on internet surveillance and how you can protect yourself online. 

What is Internet Surveillance?

Internet surveillance is the practice of tracking, monitoring, and data collection of a user’s behavior online (and sometimes offline) with the intention of using that information to control or customize their web experience, market or advertise products and services or incriminate them for one or more of their actions.

Online surveillance is a broad term with negative connotations that can also include practices such as website tracking, ISP tracking, illegal spying, and government/private surveillance. Some of these are not targeted surveillance; instead, they are designed into the core product that continuously tracks and collects data points from a user’s behavior while using that product.

good example of this non-targeted tracking is when you use a social networking site. The more you interact with a certain friend, the site will show you more updates about that friend and their related events. The site does this by tracking your behavior while you are active on and outside the platform. Some sites keep tracking you beyond even if you exit and move on to another website. In such cases, there is a nexus of surveillance by websites operating individually but collecting data that may be exchanged for a more significant benefit for the platforms in question.

Different Ways of Internet Surveillance: How They Track You

You may think that dubbing website tracking as surveillance is taking it too far, but we tend to disagree. If a website is tracking your clicks within itself and outside, that is a cause for concern.

In that regard, there are several ways in which websites and entities can track you online. Here are some of the most common internet surveillance methods:

  • ISP Tracking – Internet service providers (ISPs) track your internet usage and collect data to control your browsing or sell it to third-party entities.
  • Website Tracking – Websites use cookies and other monitoring mechanisms to track your behavior while browsing. Social media sites are notorious for this type of surveillance.
  • App Tracking – Some applications that you install on your device may track your app usage and overall mobile usage including media and call details.

As you can see, no matter how you are connected to the internet, some form of surveillance exists. In some cases, there may be a combination of tracking mechanisms. For instance, a mobile app may gain access to your files and folders, call and message details, and even other apps. What it does with all that data is anybody’s guess.

Worst scenarios have been reported globally and the lack of awareness regarding privacy intrusion ensures that unsuspecting tracking continues. 

What can you do to protect yourself in this hostile environment?

Shielding Yourself from Internet Surveillance

Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to protect yourself from online surveillance. We have discussed them briefly below.

  • Use a VPN – Install a reliable virtual private network on all your devices. Access the internet only when you’re connected to a VPN. Consider TuxlerVPN to enjoy high-speed, residential VPN architecture.
  • Choose an independent ISP – Like an independent VPN provider, opting for an independent internet service provider will ensure that there’s a limit to how much browsing data is tracked and for what reasons. 
  • Scrutinize app installations – Check your apps’ permissions and disallow those that you feel are unnecessary. Uninstall apps that you haven’t used in the last 60 days.
  • Reject website cookies – Do not allow cookies on websites to collect your data if you have the option. Alternatively, use a browser that has an always-on incognito or private mode.
  • Unsync all syncs – If you have synchronized apps and services with each other, consider unsyncing them. You can never know if any of the connected services are collecting and leaking data. For example, syncing your web browser with an email client.

As a rule of thumb, always question the intent of an app or website. In almost all cases, they are behind your data so that they can sell more stuff to you, either directly or indirectly.

The hard truth about protecting yourself from online surveillance is that you can never be fully protected if you use the internet. Even if you avoid everything you can, visiting a website to look something up is enough to trigger a never-ending tracking cycle that can collect a lot of information about you in a very short span.

For now, use this guide to stay alert on the internet. Keep reading our blog for more information on how to stay safe online.

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