How to permanently delete your Instagram account

Instagram, the popular social media platform, has been perceived by many as a safer alternative to Facebook or Twitter.

But the picture-perfect network is still part of the Facebook family and is not without privacy and data protection and privacy concerns. It’s no surprise that your likes, hobbies, and activities on the platform are monitored and sold to advertisers. There’s a lot of profit to be made off your data.

Are you’re tired of too many curated pictures, unrealistic beauty standards, and invasive tracking? Instagram might no longer be your cup of tea.

If you’re ready to get Instagram out of the picture, let me teach you how to delete your account.

First off, save your Instagram data

Deciding to quit a social media platform is never an easy feat.

So, before you delete your Instagram account permanently, you might want to keep a copy of your data. You know, for old times’ sake.

Just like Facebook, Instagram gives you the option to save your activity. And you can download your data from a computer or a phone.

From the web version:

  1. Log into your account using a browser.
  2. Click your profile picture on the right side.
  3. Go to ‘Settings’.
  4. Select ‘Privacy and Security. ‘
  5. Scroll down until you reach ‘Data Download.’
  6. Click on ‘Request Download.’
  7. Enter your email address and confirm your Instagram password.
  8. Find the link to download your data in your inbox.

From the Android/iOS app:

  1. Tap your profile picture.
  2. Tap the three lines on the right side.
  3. Go to on ‘Settings’
  4. Tap on ‘Security’ and select ‘Download Data.’
  5. Enter your email address and confirm your Instagram password.
  6. Find the link to download your data in your inbox.

You might have to be a bit patient for this one. Instagram says that it can take up to 48 hours to receive that link in your email. But, after that, you’re ready to delete your account.

Now, you’re ready to take the next big step.

How to permanently delete your Instagram account

Keep in mind that when you delete your Instagram account, your profile, photos, videos, comments, likes, and followers are permanently removed.

What’s more, you won’t be able to register under the same username again, so make sure you’re totally comfortable with your decision to delete your Instagram account.

If that’s what you’re after, here’s what you got to do:

  1. Log into your account using a browser.
  2. Go to the ‘Delete Account’ page.
  3. Choose a reason and confirm this step with your Instagram username and password
  4. Click on ‘Permanently delete my account.’

And that’s it!

Now enjoy your peace of mind as Instagram no longer keeps tabs on you and sells your data to advertisers.

How to deactivate your Instagram account

If you’re not ready to break free from the world of social media, but you still feel overwhelmed, you can still take a break.

Instagram gives you the option to temporarily disable your account.

This won’t delete any content from your account, and all your data will still be accessed by Instagram.

Here are the steps:

  1. Log into your account using a browser.
  2. Go to your account and click on ‘Edit profile.’
  3. Scroll down and click on ‘Temporarily disable my account’ in the bottom right.
  4. Select your reason and enter your password to confirm.
  5. Click on ‘Temporarily disable account.’

To reactivate your Instagram account, you just need to log back in again.

No filter can make data mining pretty

Instagram collects a lot of data, like:

      • Account names and passwords
      • All uploaded photos and videos
      • Data that links users to the photos they took, tagged or liked
      • Text message history
      • Address book contacts
      • Metadata on how people use the Instagram mobile app
      • Transactional data from Facebook products and services
      • Facial recognition data
      • Information about your devices
      • Geolocational data

Based on your profile and data, Instagram can personalize the ads that show up on your feed.

But despite the platform’s promises that no third-party developers can access your data, there have been quite a lot of mishaps in the past.

2012
One of the first things that changed after joining Facebook was IG’s privacy policy. The company started collecting all sorts of data. “You agree that a business may pay Instagram to display your photos in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions without any compensation to you.” That sentence caused an uproar back in the day.
2015
The press revealed that Instagram automatically geotagged photos, even if the user didn’t use the ‘Add to Photo Map’ option.
2017
A bug allowed hackers to access email addresses and phone numbers of unsuspecting Instagram users. You might remember this one because high-profile users were targeted. For example, hackers posted uhm… unflattering pictures of Justin Bieber using Selena’s Gomez account.
2019
An ad partner of Instagram’s, HYP3R, made the news for scrapping profile info from millions of users. Details like their locations, stories, photos, and bios, were used to create a database of user profiles.
2019
49 million Instagram users had their data exposed by a marketing agency who left an unprotected database on an Amazon Web Services server for about 3 days.
2019
After Instagram removed the ‘Following’, apps similar to Like Patrol started scrapping public profiles for data, even though that was a violation of Instagram’s policies and guidelines. Apple removed Like Patrol from the App Store a few weeks later.
2020
Social Captain, a social media boosting startup, stored Instagram passwords in plain text. And because they had a bug on their website, plugging in a user’s unique account ID granted you access to their Social Captain account and their Instagram login credentials.
2020
Instagram plans to ask for IDs to fight Russian bots and troll accounts. Users will upload a photo of a government-issued ID and then take a selfie video. These are then supposed to be validated by humans.

This doesn’t look good at all.

If you care about your data, you should consider how much of a risk Instagram poses to your privacy.

Taking away the likes

There’s no doubt that Instagram is one of the most aesthetically pleasing social media platforms out there. But behind the pretty pictures and eye-catching Boomerangs, its tracking capabilities are a force to be reckoned with.

If you’re worried about losing touch with your friends, you might want to convince them to switch to a more privacy-friendly messaging app.

In the end, it’s always advisable to use a VPN provider to protect your digital privacy and keep snoopers at bay. Get that extra layer of security and encrypt your connection.

 

So, are you ready to #DeleteInstagram? Or did you already take the plunge? 😉

Let me know in the comments below.

 

Until next time, stay safe and secure!

CyberGhost teams up with PassCamp

Get ready for even more digital privacy and security!

Today we have some good news for you, Ghosties!

We’ve decided to give you even more digital privacy and security, so we’re teaming up with PassCamp to offer a reliable password manager to our VPN customers!

Here’s what this is all about.

A match made in privacy heaven

We’ve been in the privacy business for over 15 years now.

In all this time, we’ve perfected and refined our product to make sure you get the best means to protect your digital identity.

Now, we’re taking it one step further, focusing on your passwords. Their security is a critical element of your digital life since they’re the gateway to your private data. Aaand a prime target for hackers.

We already encrypt your VPN traffic and secure your connection. But, to make sure your digital accounts get the same loving treatment, we’re now introducing you to PassCamp.

Welcome to PassCamp!

PassCamp is a cloud-based password manager. It lets you create strong, unique passwords and stores them for you in a highly protected, encrypted, and hacker-proof environments.

No more “Password123” and no more losing your passwords!

And since it’s easy to get lost in a 20-character password, PassCamp also gives you an autofill option, making your logins faster and more private.

Everything about PassCamp is easy, secure, and convenient!

Goodies are in store for you

PassCamp has a long history of handling and securing sensitive data for leading tech companies like Lenovo, Toshiba, or Deeper.

Here are some the things you can get with PassCamp:

        • End-to-end encryption
        • Password autofill
        • Secure password generator
        • In-app notifications
        • Two-factor authentication
        • Mobile app
        • Secure sharing
        • Unlimited password storage
        • Secure cloud storage

And you can have this extra layer of security as an add-on when you purchase a CyberGhost VPN subscription!

Get PassCamp with CyberGhost VPN now

It’s all straightforward:

  1. Choose a CyberGhost VPN subscription that fits your needs.
  2. Select PassCamp as an add-on to your subscription from our list.
  3. Use the PassCamp key you got via email to activate your account.

And that’s it!

We’re delighted to be offering this option to you, Ghosties, and we hope you’ll take this chance to take good care of your passwords!

 

Until next time, stay safe and secure!

9 Signs Your Smartphone is Infected With Spyware

Malware is something we hear about frequently on the news. And spyware is no exception.

Being spied on is something all of us fear. It’s tied to the primordial fear of having our autonomy taken away from us.

This makes spyware a particularly scary prospect. No wonder it’s even a popular trope in the horror entertainment industry.

But as scary as it might be, media can often paint an inaccurate picture of malware infection.

So, we’re here to clear the air.

Here’s our list of 9 tell-tale signs someone is spying on you.

9 signs you have spyware

Spyware is a type of malware that enables a person to get information about you by transmitting data covertly from a device of yours. It’s also called stalkerware sometimes.

Unlike trojans or ransomware, spyware doesn’t directly cause damage to your system. It’s not an in-your-face type of malware.

Instead, spyware stays silent in the background, recording your every move, like the:

        • Passwords you enter;
        • Sites you visit;
        • Messages you send;
        • People you interact with.

To say the least, spyware is creepy and privacy-invasive.

If you’re worried your phone might be affected by spyware, here are 9 of the most common symptoms.

1. You use too much data

If you notice sudden spikes in your data usage, even though it’s business as usual, treat it as a red flag.

Spyware tools usually eat up a lot of data to send the collected information from your phone.

2. Your battery is getting drained

If you don’t spend too much time on your phone or leave apps open, and your battery dies quicker than before, pay attention.

Spyware software runs in the background with no interruptions, so you can expect your battery life to go down drastically.

3. Your phone is overheating

Since spyware uses so much data and battery, overheating is a given.

This is especially worrying if you’re phone is relatively new, because nowadays, phones are built to be able to cope with hotter climates without skipping a beat.

4. You hear weird sounds during calls

It’s not normal to hear odd clicking sounds at the beginning of conversations on your phone.

Unless you’re not in an area with poor coverage, this can be a sign of an app recording your call.

5. Your phone feels sluggish

If you don’t have an old phone, this shouldn’t be happening. Especially since most phones now have top-notch tech inside and get regular updates.

But since spyware uses so much battery, it slows down your device considerably.

6. You find odd apps or unauthorized charges

If someone can remote control your device, you can expect to see new things on it.

So, if you run into any shady ad-riddled apps on your phone or new billings in your App Store or Google Play Store for stuff you don’t remember getting, you should check your phone for spyware.

7. Your phone shows signs of activity when in stand-by

Is your phone waking up without you doing anything? Does your camera open for no apparent reason? Are you sending messages even if you’re not on your phone? Are you finding new bookmarks in your browser?

Those are classic signs of your phone being controlled remotely.

8. It takes longer to shut down your phone

When you shut down a device, it will first close all your apps safely, so you don’t lose any progress.

Shutting down spyware apps takes longer, because A, they’re not keen on stopping their activity. And B, they use so much of your phone’s computational power.

9. Your credit card is compromised

This only applies to people who have a banking or a payment app on their phones.

When a shady individual has remote control over your phone, it’s only natural to assume they can access your financial data, on top of everything else.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of ways for your credit card to be compromised. Don’t rule out identity theft, data breaches, or a stolen wallet. Don’t jump to conclusions and contact your bank for more info first.

Phones can easily get infected

If your gadget has spyware, someone put it there. And there are two ways for this having happened:

  1. It was physically installed: The perpetrator took your phone and added a spyware app to it, without your knowledge.
  2. It was installed remotely: You were tricked into downloading it yourself, or it got installed via one of those shady websites or pop-ups.

However, clear one thing up. Spyware apps are not readily available in the App Store or Play Store. The platforms have rules against them.

So, your phone settings need to be modified for spyware to work. Here’s how to check if you’re in such a situation.

For Android devices

To make sure you’re safe:

        • Go to Settings;
        • Tap on Security;
        • Check if the Allow unknown sources box is ticked.

If it is, apps can be downloaded on your phone from third-party websites. If you did not do this yourself, you might be dealing with spyware.

For iOS devices

Unless your phone is jailbroken, it’s a bit more challenging to install spyware on your iPhone.

One of the most common ways to check for tampering is by looking for an app named Cydia. It’s the equivalent of the App Store for jailbroken devices.

There are also spyware apps that claim to work without jailbreaking, so keep an eye on other signs of infection as well.

The culprits

If you want to check if your phone is infected, here are some of the most popular spyware apps:

Now, you won’t find these apps directly on your phone.

For example, FlexiSpy might install on your phone under SyncManager, which sounds rather inconspicuous. mSpy can sport a name like IphoneInternalService.

If you find an app that uses a lot of your data and battery, but you can’t seem to shut it down, do some research. You might be dealing with spyware.

What to do if you have spyware

If you suspect you might be affected by spyware, here’s what you should do.

1. Run a malware scan

Spyware is malware, so most anti-malware apps are able to pick it up.

However, most are only able to remove basic spyware apps. More sophisticated solutions can bypass detection systems, so this isn’t a simple fix.

Do this on another device, like your PC or tablet.

2. Change your passwords

If you suspect your accounts have been compromised, make sure to change all your passwords. Choose strong and secure passwords, and do not reuse them.

3. Enable two-factor authentication

After you’ve changed your passwords, enable 2FA for all the accounts offering you this setting.

4. Update your operating system

You must always have the latest security patches installed. They’re vital in preventing spyware from working properly.

5. Reset your phone to factory settings

In most cases, this is your best option for getting rid of persistent spyware.

Learn how to stay protected

No one wants to be spied on, but spyware is a stealthy threat. Here are some things you can do to protect your phone.

1. Don’t leave your phone unattended

The easiest way for someone to install spyware on your phone is by having access to it. Be mindful of where you leave it.

2. Lock your phone

PIN codes, face unlocks, and fingerprints make it harder for someone to use your phone without your consent. And a biometric login is harder to break than a 4-digit code.

3. Encrypt your files

Spyware apps can access files, too, like your photos or videos. Hide them behind a layer of encryption.

4. Use a VPN

Good VPN software prevents you from accessing malicious websites. This makes it harder to download shady apps over HTTP connections accidentally.

5. Don’t get apps from third-parties

Apps on the Play Store or App Store are checked to ensure they follow the platforms’ terms and conditions. If an app doesn’t comply, it’s taken down.

But on third-party websites, there’s no intense scrutiny.

6. Check the permissions

When you install an app, it might require some permissions.

For example, an online game needs internet access. A photo editing app requires access to your gallery.

However, when an app requests access to sensitive information like your messages or contacts without legitimately needing it, do not grant it. You’d be just risking your privacy.

Why spyware is a thing

There are several reasons why people turn to spyware.

For example, in many cases, spyware is used by angsty parents who want to know what their offspring do online.

Jealousy can also be at play sometimes. People who don’t trust their partners might turn to keep tabs on them with software.

Some companies might use spyware to check on their teams, but, as you can imagine, that’s not legal.

Cybercriminals are also into spyware, relying on it for identity theft, blackmail, and stealing financial data.

None of these scenarios spell security.

Spyware is one of the most common surveillance methods in the current digital landscape. And it can be a lot to deal with since you’re getting your private information leaked without your knowledge or consent.

It might be hard to catch spyware in its prime. So, in this case, it’s best to trust your gut.

If you think something weird is happening on your phone, don’t be afraid to dig further. You’ll find the culprit and stop the malicious code from doing more harm, or it’ll just turn out to be a false alarm.

Either way, it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Want to read more articles like this one? Get them right in your inbox!

 

If you have any other questions about spyware, let me know in the comments below.

 

Until next time, stay safe and secure!

IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft step back from facial recognition

Facial recognition has been booming for the past years, and governments and police departments around the world were quick to implement the technology.

But now, several tech companies have stopped selling their facial recognition software.

Let’s take a look at what happened.

The downfall of facial recognition tech

It all started on June 8, 2020, when IBM announced it would exit the facial recognition market.

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna cited the reason as the fear that such tech can be used to promote racial discrimination and injustice.

He also wrote a letter to Congress pleading for Racial Justice Reform:

IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values and Principles of Trust and Transparency, (…) Artificial intelligence is a powerful tool that can help law enforcement keep citizens safe. But vendors and users of Al systems have a shared responsibility to ensure that Al is tested for bias, particularity when used in law enforcement and that such bias testing is audited and reported.

The statement comes in the wake of protests around the death of George Floyd, shortly after the Black Lives Matter protests across the US, and the world, began.

IBM is not alone in this fight

Shortly after, on June 10, Amazon announced it would pause police use of its facial recognition service, Rekognition, for a whole year.

This decision comes after a two-year battle between Amazon and civil liberties activists, who have voiced concerns that inaccurate face matches could lead to unjust arrests.

Amazon’s public statement shows that the Black Lives Matter protests might have also played a role in the moratorium on police use of Rekognition.

Rival Microsoft also took a stand

Microsoft has also voiced support for the Black community these past weeks.

But the real kicker came when the company announced a ban on police use of their surveillance technologies until federal regulation is in place.

We will not sell facial-recognition technology to police departments in the United States until we have a national law in place, grounded in human rights, that will govern this technology. (…) The bottom line for us is to protect the human rights of people as this technology is deployed.
Microsoft President Brad Smith at a Washington Post Live event

Other companies, like Google, have yet to comment on their stance.

Facial recognition is still a controversial topic

These recent developments might come as a surprise, but they’re a step in the right direction.

Facial recognition plays a part in unlocking your phone, keeping an eye on who’s in your neighborhood, preventing identity theft, using cool social media filters, or even tracking cheaters in gambling.

But critics have been up in arms about things for a while now.

Privacy concerns

While there is easy to use software, like a VPN, to protect your online data, things are a bit more complicated when it comes to your physical identity.

Facial recognition software can only work alongside a rich database of facial images. It’s the only way to train the AI to detect faces and match them in a database.

One such example is Clearview AI, a company that claims to have devised a groundbreaking facial recognition app.

Its database has more than three billion images, but they were scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo, and millions of other websites.

All this without user consent or knowledge, of course.

Other facial recognition systems get their data from CCTV footage, surveillance systems, social media apps, and sometimes even police databases.

Racial profiling

Facial recognition software has long been criticized for its racial biases.

Machines learn to identify a face after being trained on millions of pictures of human faces. But they often have little diversity to train on.

As a result, they will have difficulties recognizing and matching faces of various ethnicities.

No regulations in place

Technology usually evolves much quicker than the laws regulating it. And this leads to various approaches taken in courts or by privacy regulators around the world.

For example, in South Wales, it’s legal for the police to use facial recognition technology. But in San Francisco, it’s banned due to the lack of a regulatory framework. That’s a fancy way of saying there aren’t enough laws in place.

In China, facial recognition is mandatory for buying SIM cars or getting access to basic commodities.

Facial recognition and police overreach

Just like surveillance cameras, facial recognition is often touted as a security measure. That might explain why so many police departments were quick to adopt it.

It all sounds good, in theory. If you can track criminals when they go into public spaces, you can easily capture them and bring them to justice.

But facial technology is far from perfect.

For example, during a football game in 2017, facial recognition software screened the public. 2,470 individuals were flagged by the system. Out of those, over 2,000 fans were mistakenly identified as potential offenders.

A whopping 92% were false positives.

Lookalikes confuse the software

Given this staggering statistic, it’s easy to see how facial recognition can lead to human rights abuses.

The people of Hong Kong had experienced this firsthand when facial recognition was used to target and arrest peaceful protesters.

Now, with all the BLM protests in the US, things aren’t looking rosier, especially since the police have a history of abusing the facial recognition systems.

In a report released by the Center on Privacy & Technology, analysts explained how police agencies across the US misused the software, referencing cases from the NYPD.

On multiple occasions, when blurry or flawed photos of suspects have failed to turn up good leads, analysts have instead picked a celebrity they thought looked like the suspect, then run the celebrity’s photo through their automated face recognition system looking for a lead.

That’s a recipe for disaster, allowing unlawful arrests to happen.

What’s in store for the future?

While IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft are now trying to prevent facial technology from going unregulated, this isn’t the end of the technology.

For Huawei, NEC, Hikvision, and Clearview AI, it’s still business as usual. It doesn’t look like facial recognition is going away anytime soon.

 

But what do you think?

Will the authorities feel pressured enough to adopt better legislation? Do you think this decision will affect how facial recognition is used around the world?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

Until next time, stay safe and secure!

 

CyberGhost VPN’s Transparency Report January, February, March 2020

January, February, March 2020

Time sure flies by, Ghosties.

The first part of 2020 is already gone.

And you know what this means, right?

It’s time for our Q1 transparency report.

The beginning of a new decade

Publishing our transparency reports is a tradition we hold dear.

Back in 2011, we were the first VPN provider to provide our Ghosties with the number of requests for data we get from various authorities. And we’ve been sharing this information with you ever since.

In 2019, we decided to change our pattern and publish a quarterly transparency report. Here’s what we published so far:

2020 marks a new decade for us, but also the second year of our three-month reports.

And Q1 is finally here! 😊

Let’s check the data.

Our Q1 numbers

43,641

So, 2020 starts with a new chapter in our transparency reports.

Compared to our previous report, there’s a 5,9% decrease in the number of total requests.

As always, let’s break it down into three categories:

      • DMCA complaints;
      • Malicious activity flags;
      • Police requests.

Since we don’t keep any user records, we had nothing to share with the authorities.

On to the numbers!

DMCA complaints

40,473

DMCA complaints are copyright infringement claims.

Various companies can file a DMCA notice on behalf of copyright holders when something has been shared illegally using one of our IP addresses.

DMCA complaints are the most common type of request we receive.

In Q1 of 2020, they make up a whopping 92% of all the requests we received. There’s an 81% increase compared to our most recent transparency report.

January
February
March
8,121
7,669
24,683

March was by far the peak. Not just for DMCA complaints but for online activity overall. Seeing as how one-third of the human population was under lockdown, the figure doesn’t come as a surprise.

Malicious activity flags

3,164

Malicious activity flags usually signal abusive behaviors done with a CyberGhost VPN IP address. This can range from DDoS attacks, automated spam emails, botnets, to suspicious login attempts.

This type of request makes up 7% of all the ones we got.

January
February
March
924
1,065
1,175

Compared to the previous quarter, there’s an 86% decrease in malicious activity flags.

Police requests

4

Law enforcement agencies and local police departments from all over the world send us these types of requests. This happens when they trace back to a datacenter an IP address used for illegal activities.

Usually, the authorities are looking for details that can aid investigations, like the original IP address of the perpetrator.

Less than 1% of all the requests we receive are from the police.

January
February
March
0
2
2

This number drastically dropped from last quarter’s 21 to just 4 police requests this time around.

New year, same fight for privacy and anonymity

Privacy is a fundamental right. That’s what we believe and what we’ve advocated for since we’ve been around.

But to turn our mission into a reality, we need to have the best tools to help you beat censorship and bypass restrictions.

And this year, with contact tracing apps, increased cyberattacks, and digital surveillance on the rise, we’re stepping up and facing new challenges in the world of cybersecurity.

What we’ve done so far

We’ve been working hard ever since the year started.

We’ve dropped L2TP and PPTP as our supported protocols. With more complex data mining and surveillance solutions becoming available on the market, the two older protocols are becoming outdated.

To ensure the utmost security and privacy for all our Ghosties, we’ve turned an eye to WireGuard®. WireGuard® is a free and open-source communication protocol that aims to combine the security of the OpenVPN protocol with the speed of (the now easier to block) IPsec.

The release of our Linux app came with our first implementation of WireGuard®. Now, it’s already in beta on iOS devices. And our dev team is looking to bring it to other operating systems as well. 😉

And since you can never be too careful with your private information, we’ve also released our CyberGhost Secret Photo Vault app for iOS. It guards your private photos and videos by locking them with PIN protection. Or biometric login. Whichever one is best for you.

We’re not stopping here

We’ve been protecting digital lives for years now. And we’re currently keeping safe over 36 million people worldwide. It’s a responsibility we take to the heart.

Our strict No Logs policy is the core of our fight for digital privacy.

The only way to secure data is not to store it.
Robert Knapp, CyberGhost VPN co-founder

Throughout the rest of 2020, we’ll continue reporting the number of legal requests we receive every three months.

Stay tuned and subscribe to our newsletter to find out more about what we’re doing.

 

Until next time, stay safe and secure!

 

“WireGuard” is a registered trademark of Jason A. Donenfeld.

The Senate has voted to reauthorize the USA Freedom Act

American digital privacy is under threat

Bad news, Ghosties.

Things aren’t looking good for online freedom in the US.

Mid-May 2020, the Senate has voted to reauthorize the USA Freedom Act.

Mass surveillance could be back on the menu for Americans.

Good news: the bill was scrapped!

Update, June 2, 2020:

Privacy activists and organizations have been advocating against the Freedom Act for the past week.

And it finally paid off.

The bill intended for the USA Freedom Reauthorization Act, a legislation that would restore surveillance powers from the Patriot Act, which expired in March, has been scrapped.

Those powers included giving US agencies like the FBI and CIA the ability to search through browser history without requiring a warrant.

It’s still chaos in this legislative fight

It’s unclear when the government surveillance renewal legislation will return for a vote.

President Donald Trump seems to oppose the surveillance apparatus.

But no doubt, this might not make him very popular among other Republicans in Congress. This includes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, an avid supporter of the Freedom Act.

In other surprising news, Sen. Wyden announced on Tuesday evening that he was withdrawing his support for the House search and browsing privacy amendment.

You know, when he supported it earlier in the day…

The fight might not be over

Section 215 has been expired for a couple of months now.

Without a vote on it, we don’t know yet what happens if Congress just ignores it.

In the meantime, we have to remain vigilant and ensure that Americans’ right to online privacy remains unimpeded.

Keep up on fighting the good fight, Ghosties!

The USA Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2020

Here’s the low-down: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has snuck in an amendment that would allow the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ) to easily access your internet search and browsing history.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) attempted to remove the expanded powers from the bill with a bipartisan amendment.

According to the new amendment, a search warrant would no longer be necessary for a law enforcement agency to your browsing history. They simply have to claim it would help a national security investigation.

These agencies would need only approval from a FISA court.

FISA: The secretive court

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – or the FISA court – is a highly fortified courtroom where some of the most secretive government decisions get made.

People didn’t know of it until President Donald Trump claimed he was wiretapped.

The FISA court decides whether to approve wiretaps, data collection, and government requests to monitor suspected terrorists and spies.

No one knows where the room is located. It’s also tightly sealed to prevent eavesdropping. And with such a secretive institution, it’s no wonder some people are concerned with their decisions.

The senators who betrayed your right to privacy

Bills and laws don’t just sprout out of nowhere. In democratic countries, they need to be voted on by a majority. And this act is no different.

One more positive vote would have given the amendment the three-fifths majority it needed to pass.

In total, 37 Senators voted against an amendment that would have stopped the FBI from seizing your web browsing history.

This is who they are:

What is the USA Freedom Act?

The name sounds appealing. Who doesn’t like freedom, right?

But, oh boy, is it misleading…

USA FREEDOM is a backronym that stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act of 2015.

Fancy title, but let’s see what it means.

The not so freedom-loving Freedom Act

The Freedom Act would restore what is known as the USA PATRIOT Act. The bill was expected to swoosh through the Senate and be reenabled for another term.

The PATRIOT Act gives the FBI permission to access your data from telecom companies without a warrant, even if you have not been accused of anything yet.

A trip down on memory lane: the PATRIOT Act

The PATRIOT Act was hastily passed 45 days after the 9/11 attacks and brought many changes to surveillance laws.

In the name of national security, allowed authorities to:

        • monitor phone and email communications
        • collect bank and credit reporting records
        • track online activity

This act was created to counter terrorism and enable easy arrests or convictions of the perpetrators.

But it also made it easier for the government to spy on regular Americans as well.

I want to deliver a warning this afternoon: When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the PATRIOT Act, they will be stunned, and they will be angry.

The PATRIOT Act in numbers

The bulk data collection allowed by the PATRIOT Act was used to issue National Security Letters (NSLs).

An NSL is an investigative tool similar to a subpoena issued by the FBI. They do not require a judge’s approval and are used to obtain personal information.

192,499

That’s how many NSLs the FBI issued between 2003 and 2006.

Out of those, only one led to a conviction related to terrorism.

Another 53 reported criminal referrals by the FBI:

        • 17 for money laundering
        • 17 for immigration
        • 19 for fraud

You can see the significant lack of terrorism charges, the very reason for the PATRIOT Act’s existence.

Mass surveillance as a crime deterrent

The PATRIOT Act might sound good in theory. And at the end of the day, if you know someone plans a terror attack, you can try and stop them.

But is it really that easy?

Let’s take a look across the pond, where Britain boasts one of the largest CCTV networks in the world.

When criminologists Brandon Welsh and David Farrington performed an analysis of studies regarding public area CCTV and crime prevention, they found no connection between the two. Other researchers reported similar results.

The PATRIOT Act also didn’t turn out to be a useful tool in the war against terrorism. But the information of plenty of innocent citizens has been collected and stored, nevertheless.

 

Thank you, Snowden!

In the past, government mass surveillance has been considered a conspiracy theory.

Learn more about mass surveillance in the United States from our Internet Privacy in the Age of Surveillance article.

But then, Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the NSA, turned into a key figure and revealed the extent of mass surveillance in the USA. Between 2013 and 2014, he’s made more than dozens of revelations on what goes on behind the government’s closed doors.

Without this knowledge, the extent to which government surveillance had crept into everyday life would have remained just speculation.

And not to mention the fear that regular citizens, not just wanted criminals, are also spied on ha also been confirmed.

Next on the agenda: the EARN IT Act

If you thought the FREEDOM Act is the only thing you have to worry about right now, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise.

The EARN IT Act is coming in strong to take another swing at digital privacy.

EARN IT is a backronym for Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies. Senators do love these names, huh?

This act is aimed at tech companies, who’d now have to earn Section 230 protections, rather than being granted immunity by default under the Communications Decency Act.

Section 230 says that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”..

But it’s not entirely clear why companies have to “earn” what they’re already provided with under the First Amendment.

Now, tech companies can publish and allow their users to publish content, with very few legal restrictions. But if the EARN IT Act were passed, tech companies could be held responsible if their users posted illegal content.

If Article 13 in Europe is any indication, when it comes to this, tech companies just resort to aggressively moderating their platforms.

Earning an attack on encryption

The EARN IT Act would also establish the National Commission on Online Child Sexual Exploitation Prevention, tasked with stopping online child sexual abuse material.

The controversial part? The implication that a backdoor would be mandatory for telecom services. The EARN IT Act could stop end-to-end encryption.

Signal, a popular private messaging app, has already threatened to leave the US if the act passes.

Digital freedom is looking bleak in the US

The land of the free doesn’t endorse a free and open internet. The digital privacy of Americans is attacked on all fronts in the name of security or safety.

Reporters Without Borders even labeled the US as an enemy of the internet.

US surveillance practices and decryption activities are a direct threat to investigative journalists, especially those who work with sensitive sources for whom confidentiality is paramount and who are already under pressure.

On the scale of internet freedom, the US scored 77 out of 100 points in 2019, one point lower than the previous year.

In part, it’s because of increased government surveillance, but also because of disinformation campaigns tied to major political events.

Taming the wild internet

The US has been trying to regulate the digital world for some time now.

Even way back in 1996, the Black World Wide Web protest made the news against the Communications Decency Act (CDA).

And do you remember the PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA)? Or the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)?

Despite trying to combat online piracy, they included measures infringing on the digital freedom of speech. Critics have also argued that there weren’t enough safeguards in place to protect sites that relied on user-generated content.

The acts were met with a massive online blackout as a form of protest.

The FREEDOM Act is nowhere near the first attempt at trying to censor and monitor the internet. And it surely isn’t the last attempt either.

Fight back against surveillance

Don’t let the invasion of your privacy to become the norm. Take action now!

Here’s what you can do.

Get in touch with your representatives

Urge them to oppose any amendments that would weaken the privacy protections in the bill or FISA. Tell them what reforms you’d like to see. Make your voice heard.

Let them know that “potential offenders” should not be a green light for mass surveillance. Demand that your right to privacy is respected.

Support organizations protecting your privacy rights

You are not alone in the fight for privacy. There are plenty of organizations that would see data protection and prevent abuses that infringe upon your rights.

Here are the organizations that have signed the Government Accountability Project’s petition:

If you can, consider supporting them.

Use a VPN

A VPN – or virtual private network – is a secure method to protect your digital identity and bypass digital surveillance.

It works by encrypting your internet traffic so that Internet Service Providers, the authorities, online services, third parties, and snoopers can no longer track your online activities.

If you need more guidance on this matter, we’re always here for you at CyberGhost VPN.

 

You should never have to trade your privacy for your safety.

Data collected in bulk invites the government to snoop on your private life. And that’s not what democracy stands for.

So, act now and do what you can to protect your digital privacy!

 

Until next time, stay safe and secure!

CyberGhost VPN makes a donation to WireGuard®

We’re honored to be able to support the open-source protocol 

The fight for privacy is an ongoing battle.

In this digital age, dominated by data-mining and invasive surveillance, our goal at CyberGhost VPN is to provide you with the best tools for protecting your anonymity online.

But, to do so, we’re always looking for access to emerging technologies.

That’s why we’ve decided to donate to WireGuard® and continue supporting their development.

We’re honored to be doing our part

Our connection to WireGuard® runs deep.

We’ve integrated WireGuard® into our Linux app, and we’re working on adding the protocol to our other apps as well. If you want to see it in action, check out our beta iOS app. 😉

We have high hopes for WireGuard®, as our top priority right now is integrating the protocol into all CyberGhost VPN apps. Our tests are already confirming the excellent performance capabilities of WireGuard®, and we can’t wait to get your feedback.
Timo Beyel, Chief Technology Officer, CyberGhost

Your anonymity is our priority

Rapid tech advancements are now paving the way for even more intrusions into our privacy. Governments, authorities, and corporations are trying to get their hands on even more of your data.

At one point in time, VPNs were the bane of censorship and digital restrictions. Now, anti-VPN systems are getting better by the day.

The reality is that lots of VPN IP addresses are being targeted and blocked every single day. But we’re standing our ground and working on giving you the tools to be anonymous online.

WireGuard® is a step in the right direction

WireGuard® is a fast and modern protocol taking the world of VPN connections by storm. Its state-of-the-art cryptography makes it the best alternative for OpenVPN.

OpenVPN has become the standard protocol for security and privacy. Sadly, it’s now also a target for anti-VPN systems.

Because throttling OpenVPN connections is now the norm for restrictive networks, WireGuard® comes as a breath of fresh air.

Balancing high-speed connections and robust security systems has long been a challenge for VPN providers. But now, WireGuard® seems to have tipped the scale in our favor.

We’re beyond excited to be using WireGuard® and to have you with us on this journey of building the best VPN. Thank you!

 

More good things are about to come, Ghosties! Make sure to keep an eye on us.

Until next time, stay safe and secure!

 

“WireGuard” is a registered trademark of Jason A. Donenfeld.

Is COVID-19 Paving The Way For Authoritarianism And Mass Surveillance?

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to our lives and habits.

A lot of things have changed in our laws as well.

National lockdowns, travel restrictions, and fines are now the norm all around the world.

But while you’re worrying about your family, your house, your job, or your next grocery delivery, more and more governments are biting into the forbidden fruit of surveillance.

Claiming to monitor quarantines and self-isolating people, authorities are now giving themselves more rights than ever over people’s freedom.

Things are bad, and they’re about to get worse. Authoritarianism is on the rise, turning into a reality in places like Europe’s Hungary.

So, read on and let me tell you all about the surveillance operation authorities are undertaking in the name of keeping you safe.

The evil in Europe’s backyard

The novel virus and its rapid spread brought unprecedented changes on a global scale.

One-third of the human population is now under lockdown. To put things into perspective, that’s more people than were alive during World War II..

And while social distancing and isolation have taken their toll on us, the general population, things have also been chaotic for the authorities.

Faced with dwindling medical equipment supplies, understaffed hospitals, and people breaking quarantine regulations every day, government officials went for stricter measures.

And it came new legislation packages.

You might not be surprised to hear that China embraced new surveillance capabilities. But now, troubling news is coming out of Europe.

Yes, I’m talking about Hungary.

A lockdown turned dictatorship

Authoritarianism is all about submission to authority. It’s the opposite of individualism and democracy. In authoritarian governments, political power is condensed into one authority figure or figures. Their power is unrestrained, and they answer to no one.

Hungary reported its first two coronavirus cases on March 4, 2020.

Just three days later, authorities canceled the celebrations for the Hungarian Revolution.

On March 11, the Hungarian government declared a state of emergency.

Now, a lot of governments did this. But while nations like Italy or Japan gave it a 6-month window, Gergely Gulyás, a Hungarian state official, mentioned the measures might be in place indefinitely in the country.

There’s no deadline for the pandemic, so people didn’t think much of this initially. But things quickly took a turn for the worse.

The Parliament handed over the power to rule by decree to the prime minister, Viktor Orbán. Supposedly until the pandemic is over, but the government is the one deciding when the crisis is over.

For as long as the state of emergency remains in place, Viktor Orbán is a dictator.

A new power rises

By definition, a state of emergency comes with a reduction in personal freedom. They are enacted when an event like a war threatens the nation. The government is granted more power than usual to protect its citizens and its territory.

During pandemics, lockdowns and travel restrictions make sense, since they help prevent infection.

But this reality playing out in Hungary looks scary.

During his years as Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán has overseen a rollback of human rights in Hungary, stoking up hostility towards marginalized groups and attempting to muzzle Hungary’s critical voices.
David Vig, Amnesty International Hungary

Granting Viktor Orbán not just more power, but unlimited power is cause for concern.

It’s grim for Hungary

Under a national state of emergency and with the power to rule indefinitely, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán can now:

        • Pass new bills unimpeded by the Parliament
        • Suspend or otherwise change existing laws
        • Suspend future elections
        • Change penalties for existing laws
        • Limit free speech and label opposing views as disinformation
        • Exploit coronavirus fears to gain political power with no opposition

First thing he did with his newfound power? Strip away transgender rights.

It sounds like a textbook authoritarian regime. Democracy might’ve just suffered its final blow in Hungary.

Authoritarianism in the making around the world

For authoritarian-minded leaders, Hungary is setting a precedent.

Philippine’s President Duterte also made headlines when he publicly ordered the police and military to shoot anyone who “creates trouble.”

Let this be a warning to all. Follow the government at this time because it is critical that we have order. And do not harm the health workers, the doctors… because that is a serious crime. My orders to the police and the military, if anyone creates trouble, and their lives are in danger: shoot them dead. Do not intimidate the government. Do not challenge the government. You will lose.

In Turkey, Erdogan’s government has detained people who have been critical of its response to the coronavirus.

Brazil’s Bolsonaro has been attacking the media and accusing it of sparking hysteria over the pandemic to undermine his government, due to what he views as a “measly cold.” But even street gangs are now imposing strict lockdown measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

In the land of the free, Fox News didn’t shy away from controversy, portraying the coronavirus as an “impeachment scam.” As if the public needed another batch of fake news.

China: the apparent role-model

In China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has officially declared the coronavirus threat over. Because they were the firsts to tackle it, Chinese officials are now experts on the matter.

The timeline now also gives China the chance to pose as a savior, donating medical equipment and offering advice. And it’s working. Countries across Latin America have publicly praised China for its generosity.

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma also donated 5.4 million face masks and over a million test kits to African countries. Coincidently, the company he founded, Alibaba, has previously expressed interest in bettering Africa’s network infrastructure and digital capabilities.

And while Europe and the US are heavily affected by the crisis and are pouring all their resources to battle COVID-19, China is moving in to position itself as a global leader.

The global powers might be about to shift.

Chinese money is powering some parts of the world

China has been fighting for economic dominance for years.

And while the Trade War with the US was a thing, other countries were not so reluctant to accept China’s aid.

Chinese companies, like Huawei and Hikvision, have already exported artificial intelligence surveillance technology to more than 60 countries. Iran, Myanmar, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and other places that are known for lacking in the human rights department are on the list.

But China has also heavily invested in different sectors worldwide, such as agriculture, finance, real estate, or tourism.

For example, the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China issued 85 loans amounting to $150.4 billion from 2005 to 2017 for energy, transportation, and infrastructure projects.

China also invests large sums of money in Russian, Ecuadorian, Brazilian, Venezuelan, and Angolan oil projects. And in coal-fired power plants in Eastern Europe. And in a mix of coal and hydro in South East Asia.

You get the picture. Chinese money is in a lot of places.

But let’s leave geopolitics aside for a moment and look at how the coronavirus pandemic started.

Wuhan – the name we now all know

A novel coronavirus was first reported back in December 2019.

The first reports of the illness begun in Wuhan, but CCP officials tried their best to suppress any news regarding the troubling novel coronavirus even though they were aware of the risks posed by their animal markets for decades.

On December 21, Chinese epidemiologists with the Chinese Center for Disease Control have identified a “pneumonia of an unknown cause,” but the matter was still not out in the open.

A few days later, hospital staff started falling victim to the new disease. A quarantine was instituted on the premises.

Finally, officials admitted they were dealing with something more serious.

Dr. Li Wenliang was among the first medics who tried to warn the world but was repeatedly told by police to “stop making false comments” and was investigated for spreading rumors.

Time was wasted, while infected people were free to carry on with their daily lives. US intelligence has by now confirmed that the scale of the pandemic would have been considerably less severe if China “had been more forthcoming.”

CCP officials also provided false data to the WHO, claiming that the virus has no human to human transmission. This significantly delayed an international response, and many hospitals had no time to prepare or stock up on supplies.

Hubei’s lockdown

On January 23, authorities introduced lockdown measures in Hubei.

Just a few days after the Chinese government locked down Hubei, the government requested data from telecoms carriers to make a list of people who had entered or left the city.

And this is how a list of people deemed high-risk came to be. Police forces were then tasked with finding them.

Then, tech giant Alibaba created a health app that measured exposure to infected people by tracking their location. This was applauded even by the World Health Organization.

Other measures have also been implemented. Getting into an apartment compound or workplace by scanning a QR code, and writing down your name and ID number, temperature, and recent travel history became the norm.

Now the CCP’s narrative is that the battle against the pandemic has been won thanks to the diligence of the Chinese people and the party’s effective measures. But leaked footage shows the army barring down doors, building fences to keep people from leaving, and physically assaulting people suspected of being infected.

Despite the invasion of privacy and human rights abuses, other governments saw that surveillance could ease tackling quarantine measures.

But China is an authoritarian regime. The draconian laws the CCP imposed didn’t look out-of-place in Wuhan. With the social credit system and omnipresent surveillance, it wasn’t all just social responsibility.

Mass surveillance is back on the agenda

In the old days, before the coronavirus, the US government has often claimed that mass surveillance is a safety measure that protects citizens from potential terrorist attacks. Privacy activists have expressed concern just as often.

But looking at information disclosed by the National Security Agency, evidence suggests mass surveillance it’s not effective.

So, how does this translate to the current pandemic?

Epidemiologists and virologists worldwide recommend social distancing, frequent hand washing, and avoiding large crowds. But some government officials and law enforcement agencies claim they have a hard time keeping up with people who break quarantine.

Welcome to the age of digitally tracking people with apps.

Your phone is always tracking you

All smartphones now have a GPS integrated into their operating systems. It’s a useful feature, allowing you to use stuff like maps or fitness apps, or to find services in your area.

Usually, tracking your location means companies know about your hobbies, where you like to eat, how much time you spend shopping, and so on.

But during these pandemic times, location data can also show how much time you spend at home. And this data is being harvested by authorities around the world in the fight against COVID-19.

Hangzhou, China

The city of Hangzhou was one of the first cities to loosen up lockdown restrictions, mainly for economic reasons.

There, citizens were required to use smartphone software that dictated whether they should be quarantined or allowed into public spaces, like malls and subways.

But the software didn’t just monitor or determine infection risks based on an unknown algorithm. It also shared data with the police. And of course, neither the developers nor CCP officials have clarified how the software works.

Despite being promoted as just a way to flatten the curve, the surveillance software might be here to stay. Not transparent at all, but common under the CCP’s tight rule.

Asia

South Korea has been getting praise for its response to the pandemic, even though it involves a lot of surveillance. The Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention rolled out a system that aggregates databases. It can trace infected people within just 10 minutes.

Taiwan also managed to keep the spread under control by using an electronic fence. It tracks smartphones to make sure quarantined people stay at home.

Officials in Singapore also rolled out an app called TraceTogether. It helps identify those who came in close contact with infected patients. Later, Singapore shared the app with developers worldwide.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Turkmenistan, the hermetic Central Asian republic, went the good ole’ dictator’s way. They’ve started by banning the word coronavirus. Then, Radio Free Europe reported that plainclothes police officers were arresting people who wore face masks or mentioned the pandemic in public.

In the eyes of Turkmenistan, if people can’t talk about it, the problem isn’t there. But we already know this didn’t work out great in China.

The Middle East

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel‘s Prime Minister, stated that the country is at war with an invisible enemy, and it will use counter-terrorism technology to track virus carriers. For people who test positive, the security service will check their mobile phone records to see where they’ve been in the previous two weeks and inform people who were around them.

On the other hand, Iran launched a government-endorsed app, called AC19. It claims to help diagnose the coronavirus, but people noticed the app requests permission for real-time location data sharing.

Bahrain‘s Information & eGovernment Authority has the BeAware Bahrain app. It mitigates the spread of COVID-19 and keeps track of all active cases.

Europe

In France, two senators tabled an amendment authorizing telecom operators to collect health and location data. As a result, data generated by mobile phone users would have to be stored for six months. The amendment was defeated in the end. But telecom-to-government data transfers are allegedly happening on an ad-hoc basis.

In Belgium, drones are deployed in Brussels to enforce a curfew and social distancing rules. They also ensure no gatherings between more than two people are taking place.

In Russia, officials used the facial recognition camera from Moscow’s subway system. They also debated using QR codes for people to scan when going outside. Mobile operators are already on board with tracking users and sharing data with the government. These measures seem extreme, considering the low number of people infected. The whole situation prompted US and EU officials to accuse Russia of underreporting.

Even Iceland rolled out Rakning C-19. The app uses a phone’s GPS tracking capabilities to monitor a person’s whereabouts. If someone tests positive for the virus, the authorities can then notify anyone who’s been in contact with them.

Google also wants to pitch in with some location data mining. The company is looking to release COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports, tracking if people are staying indoors.

But there are serious privacy concerns over these measures. And there’s no guarantee that the surveillance apparatus will be suddenly turned off once the threat of the pandemic is over, never to be seen again.

A look into the future

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting democratic systems to the test.

Surveillance is taking over in the name of tracking infections, and with an economic recession knocking on our doors, some countries might accept a lending hand from China.

But the questions remain.

Can we trust China’s aid as just that? With no ulterior motive or a hidden agenda?

Can we trust that those very systems put in place for our safety won’t be abused for political power in the future?

And can we trust that our private data won’t be exploited?

All proof seems to indicate the answer is a loud no.

You need to act now

We are now facing unprecedented levels of surveillance and data exploitation worldwide. But the pandemic is not an excuse to infringe on your right to privacy.

Your data is safe only in your hands. Mass surveillance must not become the new norm.

There are a lot of moments in the history of humankind when people in various regions have been controlled in a degrading and violent manner. Authoritarian regimes, slavery, and wars have always put our race in desperate situations, and our limited understanding of nature and medicine din not help at all with managing situations surrounding calamities and plagues.

The economic and political elites of today have turned thousands of years of history into the perfect training ground to create a new blueprint of mass manipulation and control. Plans on how to profit from a pandemic were already designed. A push of a button was the only thing missing. And the current technological and economic context already gave them all the weapons needed to profit from the misery of others.

However, the leaders of today have refined methods of control, which are subtle and deceiving. They can convince you that it is in your best interest to give up your freedom, your privacy, and your property. Maybe you’ll even end up feeling like they’re doing you a favor.

There is this old phrase saying “Scientia potentia est,” meaning “knowledge is power.” As the world is getting digitized and automated, the internet is now the centerpiece. So companies and governments are fighting over a coveted position: being the one legally allowed to collect and process data to control and dictate our future.

But we decided to fight against them, and also to give you the power to protect yourself.

Please take part in our collective effort to make the internet anonymous, so that everybody can enjoy freedom and stability in this digital era.

Gheorghe Ungureanu, Lead Architect at CyberGhost VPN

You need to act now.

Get in touch with your representatives

Worried about the measures being taken in your country?

Now’s the time to get more familiar with your state’s legislation and to write to the authorities. Ask for clarifications and demand for your rights to be respected.

Start petitions, file lawsuits, do what you legally can to make your voice heard.

Support organizations protecting your privacy rights

A lot of organizations out there promote democratic values and protect the freedom of speech and your right to anonymity. And you can bet they’re now closely monitoring how digital surveillance systems are promoted and implemented.

For example, Privacy International is tracking the global response to COVID-19.

 

Support your local NGOs

States of emergency are reflected differently across the world.

Your favorite local NGOs might suddenly be without funding. So, check-in with them and see if there’s anything you can do to continue fighting for their cause.

Support the freedom of the press

Reporters without borders claimed that the coronavirus might not have been a pandemic if China had had a free press.

It’s now more important than ever that politics don’t interfere with the narrative. And it’s an essential step to combat disinformation and fake news in these troubling times.

Free Press has released an emergency petition just for that purpose.

Use a VPN

Virtual Private Network software is a secure method to protect yourself from digital surveillance.

Your Internet Service Provider, the authorities, online services, third parties, and snoopers can usually track your digital footprint. Not when you use a good product.

If you need more guidance on this matter, we’re always here for you at CyberGhost VPN.

Use an antivirus

A good antivirus should provide you with a firewall or a network monitoring tool. This way, you can block unauthorized access to your system and get notifications for suspicious activity.

 

These coronavirus times are changing our lives in plenty of ways. But crises always come and go. So, do what you can to protect your privacy now, and don’t let any Big Brother move in with you.

Let me know what you think about this whole situation in the comments below.

 

Until next time, stay safe, secure, and healthy!