Your Google Activity Should Be Nobody’s Business. How to take charge of your data.

Photo Credit: Google Space, illustration by Muhammad Rifqi Rizaldy

Your Google Activity Should Be Nobody’s Business. Literally. There are businesses taking place in the search bar and far beyond, not only pay per click systems but extensive data collection of all your Google activity, is at the basis of high profiling well.. you, with a big emphasis on your shopping preferences or political affiliation.
Taking a privacy stance when it comes to using the internet is the new “drink responsibly”, so prior to feeling entitled to a private life while online, let’s just start with a clear mind in recognizing how much of what we put out there is actually in our power, slash hands, slash keyboards. And yet another important amendment before we get started, let’s also rise above the inclination of brand association, of trying to find a scape goat.  Meaning that regardless if it’s Facebook, Google or big telecom names like say Verizon  or Comcast, whichever the brand hype media is taking a stand towards, let’s just admit that privacy breaches and privacy concerns are virtually everywhere. High and low. 

So, with realistic expectations of what the online environment means today from two main perspectives as informational medium and marketing tool, we can manage to reach a clearer understanding of what to do in order to preserve privacy, while enjoying all of the perks the online world brings to the table.

 

Credit Photo: Digital Trip, illustration by Caparo design crew

Today we focus on Google activity and how you can disable it. Google knows a lot about our digital personas, as I would not go as deep into saying that Google knows us, since I remain loyal to the idea that our multifaceted lives and personalities can not be reduced to our digital footprint. And yet the thought of having a personal record with everything you’ve ever clicked on, every character you’ve ever typed in, it’s none the less disenchanting. Bare in mind though, that deleting or disabling such functionalities will not guarantee that your data is being deleted from Google’s servers altogether, but it will sure keep your browsing history from following you around. On the other hand don’t always think that companies like Google or Facebook have all the frivolous reasons to store your data. On many occasions this set of information is used for a better overall experience with the product a particular company is selling, wether is tangible or a service. On top of that, for users performing illegal activities while online, the data Google stores about them can prove very helpful in identifying suspicious or fraudulent activity and in this case, depending on the country’s jurisdiction, Google can be asked under a search warrant or subpoena to provide logs to authorities. This is something that Google admits openly in their annual Transparency Report.

Long story short, if you simply feel more comfortable having your google activity disabled and you’re not looking for any trouble while online, your browsing data should be safe from prying eyes once you get to manage the data Google stores on you.

 

I also find that deleting this data is a good step in preventing the engine in always feeding you what you previously searched for or viewed.  That alone can be an enormous loophole you may find yourself into, especially in the case of Youtube, that you can also manage from your Google activity page.

 

For all the information stored by Google such as your location stored in maps, your contacts stored in calendars and apps, your voice stored in voice searches, your Youtube search and watch history, there’s a disable function you probably never heard about. Here’s a simple and safe guide on how to delete or disable unwanted functions in Google Takeout, Google Account and Google Activity pages.

 

  1. Back up If you’re feeling nostalgic you can download your data before deleting anything by going to Google Takeout here. You will receive an email when the download is complete containing a link where you can download your data.
  2. Google Activity
    Here you can delete virtually all Google searches.
  3. Stop or Pause Your Web and App Activity

    After deleting searches you will want to get Google to stop or maybe pause your activity. You can do that in your Activity Controls Page, the Web and App section here. Browse to the bottom and select which function you want disabled.

 

 

For enhanced privacy, people are also  turning to VPNs to reclaim or preserve online freedom and privacy and we strongly advice that you should consider doing the same.

No longer an exotic tool, VPNs are now entering the mainstream and given the context it’s easy to understand why.

Simply put, when you’re using a VPN, all your data travels through a tunnel encrypted from end to end. In other words, not even your ISP will be able make sense of your data, since you’ll have all your online data happen elsewhere, not going through your ISP servers and encrypted all the while.

But it’s not just Google or  your ISP that keeps track of your browsing data, it’s your cell phone provider too, most apps, operating systems, and other services do the same.

Smartphones with preinstalled tracking software, secretly bundled with tracking files are sold everyday, while some companies try to leverage the very problem they created by charging extra for privacy.

Having a VPN in place is the smart approach to getting around all this. Think at a VPN as the middleman between you and the internet, where your ISP can only see a bunch of encrypted traffic. And since your VPN knows as much as your ISP would, it’s very important to choose a reliable one with a zero log policy and a strong encryption.

Services like MyIP.io will offer you a self-managed VPN network platform, delivering fast, secure and reliable VPN service , The platform caters to a wide demographic through three channeled directions:Personal,Dedicated and Business, so it makes for a wonderful choice for corporate or personal use at the same time.

Engineered as a global platform,MyIP.io is a VPN service provider committed to developing applications and services that preserve an open and secure Internet experience while respecting user privacy.

VPNs: Why So Many People turn to Them And Why You’re Missing Out For not Using One

Photo Credit: illustration by Joshua Harvey

Setting yourself up with a reliable, robust VPN service is a real solution to overturn the effects of net neutrality repeal.

Under the new FCC regulation, an ISP has the liberty of charging you more if you watched Netflix instead of Hulu, creating “fast lanes” and unfair advantages to preferred partners. Don’t think your ISP would do that if given the chance? Well, it’s already happening, since net neutrality repeal has gone into effect on June 11th.

With the present “state of affairs” there is no doubt that the online environment is becoming increasingly politicized and the concept of a open but safe internet is in the midst of powerful forces of antagonistic interests fighting each other. A balance between these forces is a desiderate for a healthy environment that we’re not sure how or when we’re going to achieve.

WHAT TO DO?

In the meantime, people are turning to VPNs to preserve access and to reclaim online freedom and privacy and we strongly advice that you do the same.

We tested a few VPN services in terms of speed, security and customer support and MyIP.io stays top of mind. They offer static IPs at no extra costs, have super fast speed for uploads and unparalleled cost to feature ratios.

No longer an exotic tool, VPNs are now entering the mainstream and given the context it’s easy to understand why.

Simply put, when you’re using a VPN, all your data travels through a tunnel encrypted from end to end. In other words, your ISP will not be able to block access or make sense of your data, since you’ll have all your online activity happen elsewhere, not going through your ISP servers and encrypted all the while.

But it’s not just your ISP that keeps track of your browsing data, it’s your cell phone provider too, most apps, operating systems, and other services do the same. Smartphones with preinstalled tracking software, secretly bundled with tracking files are sold everyday, while some companies try to leverage the very problem they created by charging extra for privacy.

Moreover, it’s not just the American net neutrality repeal, UK also passed a bill that basically allows internet history snooping, the infamous bill is known as the Snooper’s Charter (suggestively enough!). This British bill requires that every ISP keeps your search history for 1 full year.

And matters seem to only get worse in the future. Taking hold of your own digital footprint requires savvy, educated users, that know their rights and are not willing to compromise when it comes to their own privacy.

It’s easy to understand why more and more people resort to using a VPN service, rather than letting their information “fly” to unknown servers where they can be stored indefinitely.

An exact break down of all the things you can use a VPN for would maybe further clarify this topic.

We listed the most popular ones we could think of:

1. Torrents

Torrents are not all illegal, but for an ISP is really difficult to set the legal ones from the illicit, so very often that not they block this kind of activity. Having a VPN in place will camouflage the subject of your downloads and will make it harder for your ISP to track and block torrenting.

2. Security

Think of your health records, your banking details and other sensitive information that you might use while online. A VPN will encrypt that information and will keep your connection secure at all times.

3.Geo-restricted content

Every time you travel you get a different set of content according to your location. Sticking to your country of residence through a VPN while outside the country will leave your content unchanged, like say your Netflix catalog. On the other hand, changing your IP location to one that allows you to watch the World Cup in Russia as it happens is also a VPN away.

4. Research or journalism

Research data or revealing a sensitive issue to the public through journalism is something that people might strive extra to acquire access to. Having that data encrypted through the help of a VPN will spare you the trouble.

5. VOIP services

Using services like Skype or FaceTime to interact to your peers at work, may be a common thing inside your company. VOIP security is still lagging behind, but a VPN will help secure your connections, so you don’t have to.

6. Public Wi-Fi in airports or coffee shop

Notorious for welcoming prying eyes, airports and public Wi-Fi spots are not to be used sans VPN protection.

8. Gaming

Your connection to your gaming comrades can be direct through a VPN, resulting in increased load times and limited buffer overflows. You will also be able to get the latest releases of your favorite games as they happen and not wait for them to hit your location upon schedule.

10. Checking your competition out

It’s pretty easy for anyone to track the source of their traffic through their Analytics account so you too can be spotted checking your competition out. You can still do that undisturbed and anonymous with the help of a VPN service.

Having a VPN in place is the smart approach to getting around all this. Think at a VPN as the middleman between you and the internet, where your ISP can only see a bunch of encrypted traffic. And since your VPN knows as much as your ISP would, it’s very important to choose a reliable one with a zero log policy and a strong encryption.

Services like MyIP.io will offer you a self-managed VPN platform, delivering fast, secure and reliable VPN service . This platform caters to a wide demographic through three channeled directions: Personal, Dedicated and Business, so it makes for a wonderful choice for corporate or personal use at the same time. Whatever provider you may chose, remember that the smart approach is to use a VPN service that you feel is the best match for you. Until then, stay smart, use a VPN!

The Link Tax, The Censorship Machines And The Balkanisation Of The Web

Photo Credit: illustration by Guillaume Kurkdjian, “Should we dismantle Google?”

You would think that passing a law to regulate link sharing or to validate intellectual ownership of content is a good thing in designating credible sources and ultimately delivering accurate information to the final user. Well, think again. In an attempt to modernise copyright law, the new  Copyright Directive  approved on Wednesday by the EU, raises cause for concern under three articles that seem to have control of informational flow at stake. If passed in January of next year, in the current form, the bill might damage the way we use the internet and online freedom of expression in a major way. Let’s brake down these three articles and what they stand for.

1. Article 11: News Aggregators – this article forces news aggregators like say Facebook, Reddid, Medium or Google News to have paid licenses in place for every which pixel and character of copy they share. Now, it all sounds just, but it’s still a double edged sword, as there will be an euro exchange for sharing or quoting content, which limits the access to information for the humble user and increases visibility of any paying outlet. Forcing licensing on news aggregators is nothing new, as similar attempts have been made in 2014 by both Germany and Spain, when Google neutralized  the attempt by simply de-listing german and spanish news sites from their index. Article 11 however, might have much more profound implications, if passed. Cutting ties with the informational flow coming from 2 countries is one thing, cutting ties with all of unified europe is another. Having news aggregators diminish quantity over quality by being more selective is an ideal that we’re still not sure how we’re going to achieve as imposing paid licensing might not bring much relief, but the exact opposite.

2. Article 12a: Photos and Videos taken at sport matches –  recording videos or taking pictures with your phone while at a sport match and publishing them is labeled as copyright violation, under this article. In other words, organisers will impose heavy barriers to outsiders in what sharing, publishing, presenting, reproducing or recording is concerned. That might lead to an entire fan culture to be filtered out by social platforms or news aggregators that will be forced to comply.

3. Article 13: Copyright Filters – any content flagged as infringement will be monitored by automated detection systems, under the new law. It sure sounds like a good  thing, but given the lack of detail in what the implementation might be, this article too might bring much more chaos and a widespread, not necessarily positive impact. Online Censorship being one of them. Google will survive, but mid size companies won’t. Some platforms like github could potentially lose the ability to operate in the EU, any forum would be at risk, becoming giant copyright liabilities.

Failing to redefine these articles, might lead to permanent surveillance, damaging the open and free internet as we know it with great implication on innovation, proving that sometimes the road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions.

Just as in the case of net neutrality repeal, these articles of the EU directive are seen as enemies of innovation. Advocates of net neutrality argue in the favor of keeping an unobstructed online field as a vital part of innovation. Their concern is very valid and should be a cause worth fighting for all of us.

Net neutrality broadly means that all content available on the internet should be equally accessible, it’s a philosophy that puts big ideas and big money on equal grounds- preventing providers like Comcast and Verizon to block some data while prioritizing others. In other words big companies shouldn’t be blocking users from accessing services like Netflix in an effort to sell their own cable package or for the purpose of making users buy a streaming video service bundle sold by your ISP.

Otherwise, if broadband providers start picking favorites, new technology might never see the light of day. To understand that assertion, imagine you had your ISP blocking or limiting access to video streaming when services like Youtube came to shape, 18 years ago. Had that been the case, Youtube might not even exist today or would only be accessible upon paying extra fees to your ISP. A very unpleasant prospect, we agree.

In the case of net neutrality repeal, having a VPN in place can help you overturn its effects.

Under the new FCC regulation, an ISP has the liberty of charging you more if you watched Netflix instead of Hulu, creating “fast lanes” and unfair advantages to preferred partners. Don’t think your ISP would do that if given the chance? Well, it’s already happened as stated before, since 2004, coming up to AT&T’s Facetime ban and again in 2014 and 2017 when Verizon slowed down Netflix traffic.

While California’s S.B. 822 is becoming the poster child for states looking to keep net neutrality in place by voting its own rules, not all states have the luxury to do so.

Getting back to the Copyright Directive, whether this new law will empower content creators or cause more harm then good is still unclear. One think is certain, if the directive passes in its current form, things will get much more chaotic, before they start to order and actually make sense. If voted in the spring of next year, member states will have two years to implement it. Expect some large platforms to stop service in Europe- as we saw happening post GDPR implementation. Some might decide to just geo-block services for a while. When or if that happens, you know what you have to do. Turning to a VPN service might prove very helpful.

All in all there is no doubt that the online environment is becoming increasingly politicized and the concept of a open but safe internet is in the midst of powerful forces of antagonistic interests fighting each other. A balance between these forces is a desiderate for a healthy environment that we’re not sure how or when we’re going to achieve.

In the meantime, people are turning to VPNs to preserve access and to reclaim online freedom and privacy and we strongly advice that you should do the same.

No longer an exotic tool, VPNs are now entering the mainstream and given the context it’s easy to understand why.

Simply put, when you’re using a VPN, all your data travels through a tunnel encrypted from end to end. In other words, your ISP will not be able to block access or make sense of your data, since you’ll have all your online data happen elsewhere, not going through your ISP servers and encrypted all the while.

But it’s not just your ISP that keeps track of your browsing data, it’s your cell phone provider too, most apps, operating systems, and other services do the same.

Smartphones with preinstalled tracking software, secretly bundled with tracking files are sold everyday, while some companies try to leverage the very problem they created by charging extra for privacy.

Having a VPN in place is the smart approach to getting around all this. Think at a VPN as the middleman between you and the internet, where your ISP can only see a bunch of encrypted traffic. And since your VPN knows as much as your ISP would, it’s very important to choose a reliable one with a zero log policy and a strong encryption.

Services like MyIP.io will offer you a self-managed VPN network platform, delivering fast, secure and reliable VPN service , The platform caters to a wide demographic through three channeled directions:Personal,Dedicated and Business, so it makes for a wonderful choice for corporate or personal use at the same time.

Engineered as a global platform,MyIP.io is a VPN service provider committed to developing applications and services that preserve an open and secure Internet experience while respecting user privacy.