How to protect your digital privacy in the age of Trump
Donald Trump (AFP Photo/Gaston De Cardenas)

As a vindictive sociopath prepares to move into the White House, it's perhaps important to consider ways to protect your private communications and information about your whereabouts, especially around demonstrations and direct action protests. As a citizen of a country with the largest and most invasive surveillance apparatus in the world, you should think about how you use your mobile device, as it is capable of being used to monitor your most intimate communications and browsing habits.


Here is a very brief primer on how to make your text messages, browsing habits, and computer hardware more private. I would encourage you to dig deeper by visiting the Electronic Frontier Federation's Surveillance Self Defense site: https://ssd.eff.org/en

PRIVATE EMAIL:

We highly recommend Proton Mail for a free private and encrypted email account. Proton Mail is based in Switzerland and is therefore out of the legal reach of American spy agencies. Emails sent between Proton Mail users are encrypted end-to-end. You can go to http://www.protonmail.com to get a free email address.

PRIVATE TEXTING:

Signal is an encrypted SMS (ie, phone texting) service that has end-to-end encryption. Your messages are not saved on your cell phone company's server or on Open Whisper Systems' servers, so they cannot be subpoenaed or searched unless someone has access to your phone. It is available for both Android and iPhone, and is available in the Google Play store and the Apple App Store. Signal also allows for encrypted voice calls if both users have installed the application. https://whispersystems.org/

PRIVATE WEB BROWSING:

Tor is free web browser that helps you defend against anyone trying to track what sites you visit or monitor your communications online. Tor users connect to the internet through a series of virtual tunnels, thus allowing you to share information over public networks without compromising your privacy. There is also a mobile version available. Visit Tor here: https://www.torproject.org

We suggest using Tor alongside some sort of Virtual Private Network (or VPN) connection. We suggest either NordVPN (https://nordvpn.com/) or ExpressVPN (https://www.expressvpn.com/) as they are, like ProtonMail, based offshore and are therefore outside US Spy Agencies' jurisdiction.

BEST PRACTICES:

1. Encrypt the hard drive on your computer using the right protocol for your operating system. If your machine is stolen your data will be protected.

2. Do not take your mobile phone to protests or direct actions. Sophisticated surveillance devices now exist that can track your movements and communications via your mobile phone.

3. Use a PIN to restrict access to your mobile phone. If you'd like to go a step further, consider using your phone's ability to encrypt and password protect your data.

4. Use a password manager (like KeePass or LastPass) to generate and remember strong passwords. With a password manager, you only have to keep track of one password.

5. Disable location services on your phone until they are actually needed. This also extends your battery life, so that's a bonus.

5. Be vigilant for acts of racist, sexist, or other types of aggression against vulnerable people. Take a stand. Remember that one day you will likely be asked what you did when Trump came to power. Act with honor.

For more in-depth information on these topics, please visit us on the web at http://www.dissidentstoolbox.com or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/dissidenttools

Additional resources:

The aforementioned Surveillance Self-Defense Site is here:https://ssd.eff.org/en

The Electronic Frontier Foundation site is here: https://www.eff.org

Digital Security Tips for Protestors can be found here: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/38465-digital-security-tips-for-protesters

Side-by-side comparison of various VPN services can be found here: https://thatoneprivacysite.net/simple-vpn-comparison-chart/