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DIY for CYA: Protecting Your Privacy

DIY for CYA: Protecting Your Privacy

I never paid too much attention to online privacy until I read about the NSA Snowden revelations last summer. Since then, I’ve taken a peculiar interest in learning more about the considerations of ethics and notions of privacy for Internet users, and I’m thrilled that my IST 700 course covers a week’s worth of readings on this topic.

In the midst of the PRISM scandal last July, I tweeted about prism-break.org, an online resource for those concerned about NSA’s global data surveillance program. It contains an informative directory of tools that everyday people can begin using to secure their online activities. I’m a huge believer in dogfooding what I preach, so here are three free applications listed on that directory that I continue to use at the moment.


This browser extension prevents companies from creating an online profile of your browsing behavior. This service blocks over 2,000 tracking sites and your websites load faster because Disconnect initiates fewer HTTP requests per page.


Whenever you upload media onto the web, chances are you are also including metadata about yourself in that file. This service is a secure way to host images you’d like to share with your network as it does not collect any information about the uploader.


Virtual private networks mask your online activity from prying eyes. I’ve written extensively on this topic; if you’re curious to learn more, read Ganghadaran, S., Dosono, B., Ngu, K. (2013). Virtually unused: Virtual private networks and public internet users. New America Foundation.

No network can be perfectly anonymous. However, unless we want to leave ourselves vulnerable to mass surveillance, we should all take steps to secure our privacy online. We all have a right to privacy and we can exercise it today by encrypting our communications.

(Editor’s note: A version of this post originally appeared on Bryan’s tumblr.)

About Bryan Dosono

Bryan is a PhD student in Information Science and Technology at Syracuse University. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Washington with honors in Informatics: Human-Computer Interaction. His research in information and communication technology examines the intersection between online privacy and digital inclusion for underserved communities.

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