Sidestepping America’s Electronic Stasi

Ok, so now we know for a fact that the US population has been spied upon by their own fellow Americans (with top secret clearances) without any reason/justification whatsoever. So much for all those bullshit privacy policies we wasted our time reading through. 

The work of Edward Snowden has cut the intelligence community deep. His revelations, reported in the Guardian and Washington Post revealed the stunning extent of NSA’s/FBI’s PRISM snooping.  Microsoft, Google, YouTube, Yahoo, Facebook, Skype, Apple, and others are the nets that put us all in the potential Enemy of The State category. They probably know more about us than we can imagine.

One should never put blind trust in any online activity, be it online banking or Google searches. If you have, shame on you! Anyway, there are still ways you can use the Internet without having to surrender your personal information, data and Internet habits to interested parties.You can use various proxies based outside of the US where the American government has no jurisdiction—bearing in mind that other governments may have their own surveillance programs, and anything you share publicly might be scooped up by security agencies anyway.

That said, here’s a guide to using the Internet without using PRISM companies.
Forget Google, Yahoo, and Bing. There are other search engines which will allow you to surf anonymously  like Blekko and DuckDuckGo. For non-American services, you could use Russia’s Yandex,  or the Netherlands-based StartPage. Consult this impressive Wikipedia list of options.
Document collaboration
If you’re working with friends or colleagues on a collaborative document, you might be using Google Drive (formerly Google Docs). There are a few other options out there, like Zoho Thinkfree.
Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Apple’s email offerings, and Hotmail/Outlook will get ya! There is a  self-hosted email option and Webmail services like Zoho (not free), HushmailLavabit, and Thunderbird

File sharing
The PRISM document leaked to the Guardian and Washington Post indicated file storage and sharing service Dropbox is due to join the program soon. Thankfully, there are plenty of other ways to share large files without having to explode your email storage limit or mail a USB stick. Box has a few gigabytes of free storage, and Kim Dotcom’s Mega has 50GB of space for free (though there have been some security concerns). Wikipedia, again, has a large list

(You always have the option of sending legal files to which you own the copyright through BitTorrent as well).


Video sharing

YouTube is out. If you’re looking to share a video on the Internet, you might look to DailymotionVimeo, or Liveleak
So long, Google Maps and Yahoo Maps! Privacy advocates might just be switching back to printing out 10 pages of Mapquest directions.  OpenStreetMap is a cool alternative and ArcGis is also pretty nice.


Come and get me, filthy spy! We know that Google-owned Blogger, and Yahoo-bound Tumblr.are part of PRISM. Alternatively, there is WordPress or LiveJournal. I will take my chances on this one. I am no threat to anyone, after all.

Voice/video chat
Skype, a Microsoft entity, is on the PRISM list. You might wish to avoid Google Hangouts and Apple’s Facetime as well now. There are a few options here, such as TinychatooVoo, and, all of which are free.

Photo sharing
 Instagram is owned by Facebook. Yahoo owns Flickr. You know what’s up. To share your photos via a non PRISM-affiliated company, you could share photos directly on Twitter, use Reddit’s Imgur, or go to DeviantArt (of course, there is still that old-school PhotoBucket) .

Operating system/smartphones
Microsoft and Apple are reputedly part of PRISM, meaning that the Windows and OS X operating systems on your computer might just be transmitting data back to the government. You might want to read up on which flavor of Linux fits your needs. Personally, I like Ubuntu. Linux Mint is also pretty slick. As for smartphones, iPhones, Android phones, and Windows Phones run on operating systems provided by Apple, Google, and Microsoft. With privacy concerns gaining momentum, try switching to BlackBerry or use a phone without any Internet features (not much fun). It wouldn’t really matter though as the government is collecting data about your phone calls, too.

For more alternatives, check here.
I am tired of folks who make the foolish argument, “Well, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about“. I don’t think folks who take this position deserve a response. Let them marinate in their stupidity. 

The real alternative to combat these police-state tactics is to either exercise extreme caution online & not put anything out there not fit for your mama’s eyes or just disconnect everything and go back to what we used to do so well for generations: communicate face to face. Impractical, yeah I know, but at least your information won’t be warehoused & potentially used against you……



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