With the Australian Government recently implementing it’s new voyeuristic metadata policy there have been a number of people wondering what this means for their privacy online, and what they can do to limit the governments ability to know every little detail about your life online.
I’ve always lived under the assumption that the government is watching pretty much all communications Australians have on the internet. You just need to look at the NBN, I;ve been told that their data centers all contain giant SANs (Storage Area Network – Disk Storage), which isn’t all that strange for large IT companies, but NBN is an ISP (Internet Service Provider) – they should have lots of networking equipment, not lots of data storage equipment – I wonder what they need it for…
I guess the main difference now is that the government has finally come clean on their data retention plans. So what can you do, and how much does it cost to limit what the government can see you doing on the internet?
So what is it that the Government wants to capture about your internet activities? Here is George Brandis (The man pushing this agenda) has to say.
So how can you stop those prying eyes?
VPN (Virtual Private Network)
The most obvious way to keep your internet traffic private is to use a VPN. Essentially this tunnels all of your traffic through an encrypted link to a server someone else in the world. All your ISP will see is encrypted traffic going between you and the VPN server.
In terms of cost, VPNs aren’t very expensive. If you do a search on Google for Cheap VPN or Best VPN – you will see there are thousands of VPN providers, with most costing anywhere from $3 a month through to over $20 a month. i’m not recommending any services here, but if you do your research you should be able to get away with one that offers you unlimited speed and data for less than $5 a month.
TOR stands for The Onion Router and is a network of computers that use encrypted tunnels to hide what you are viewing on the internet. TOR is free, but can be terribly slow and isn’t what I would call secure web browsing. I would never enter a password on a site via TOR for fear that is was being logged somewhere along the way.
There are certain types of applications that have built in encryption. As an example WhatsApp (the popular instant messaging app) is encrypted and what’s sent within WhatsApp can’t be seen by your ISP.
You can also use services like Skype or Gmail which are hosted externally to Australia. Anything you send via these applications can’t be seen by your ISP.
If all else fails you can go to your local library or park and use their free wifi. This isn’t tied to your IP address at home, so anything you send over these networks is a lot harder to trace back to you.
So as you can see, there are plenty of ways to avoid the governments mandatory snooping on your activities online. None of these are illegal and in fact, most legitimate businesses around the world use VPNs, so there is no reason why you can’t too. The kicker with all this is that you, the Australian tax payer, are going to pay for the implementation and operation of this system.