December 20, 2019

Give The Gift of Privacy This Holiday Season

It’s the gift that keeps on giving: five gift ideas that prioritize your privacy.

As the holidays approach, you may find yourself overwhelmed with ads for all the latest tech, from gaming systems to smart home ecosystems. Truth be told, not only do all of these gadgets NOT prioritize your privacy, some were created to be able to listen in (or view) everything you say and do! But never fear, your friends at Startpage are here! There are plenty of items on the market that can help protect your privacy, and we’ve put together a list of gifts that will protect both your online and off-line presence alike.

#1 A Privacy Screen To Keep 👀 Away

Have you ever had that “scary movie” feeling (“the call is coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE!”) that someone is watching you? You quickly turn around just in time to catch someone behind you, or sitting next to you, quickly turn back from watching what you were doing on your device. But catching them after the fact doesn’t make you feel better, it makes you feel worse because its too late to stop them from invading your privacy. That’s why most people are careful about what displays on their screens while in public, and why the most popular seat in any public area is one where you can put your back (and your screen) to the wall. But these seats aren’t always available, which is why a recent survey by HP found that “8 in 10 people restrict what they have on their screens in public.” In other words, prying eyes can be a significant barrier to accessing the information you want right away. You shouldn’t have to wait until you get home to check your credit balance or scroll through your feed, and in worse cases, you sometimes can’t wait.

A privacy screen, or filter screen, can guard your device from wandering eyes. Whether you’re checking out personal financial information or browsing sensitive topics, a privacy screen blocks viewing from angles, and better, it’s pretty inexpensive. Chances are, you or someone you know could use a privacy screen for their newest device.You can get privacy screens for smartphones and tablets as well, but here are some options for a MacBook Pro (https://www.apple.com/us/search/Privacy+Screen+for+MacBook?src=globalnav) and Dell laptop (https://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/laptop-privacy-screens/ar/7217).

To read the full results from HP’s Creepers and Peekers survey: https://press.ext.hp.com/content/dam/hpi/press/press-kits/2019/hp-creepers-&-peekers-survey/datasheets/HP-Creepers-Peekers-FINAL.pdf

#2 Pull That Cap Down And Pull That Collar Up: Fashion Tips That Blocks Facial Recognition

Remember when “facial recognition” was just a special effect in Sci-fi movies? With the rise of routine public surveillance like traffic cams, people who put a premium on their privacy are looking to evade facial recognition. Surprisingly, for now, it’s pretty simple to do so. It’s as easy as putting on a pair of glasses or a scarf. The hack to the system is to trick facial recognition into distorting the data on file for you, by making you look different. Covering up distinctive facial features is the easiest way to fool this technology, though be careful: facial recognition keeps getting better with each passing year, and gets harder and harder to fool.

Hats, wigs, scarves, facial hair (or lack of) and wide sunglasses all work as long as it covers a significant portion of your face. Or, you can go the extra step and buy a cosmetic prosthesis designed specifically to combat facial recognition. No, not the Groucho Marx nose and glasses, though we still think they’re funny. But real innovators such as the folks at Reflectacles (https://www.reflectacles.com/#home) are coming out with glasses that are designed specifically to prevent infrared facial mapping from reading eye measurements. Note: sorry, but these sunglasses are not available until April 2020.

#3 Giving The Gift Of Privacy: A Subscription For A Privacy Product

Giving a friend or loved one a subscription for an online privacy product can go a long way, since many subscriptions can be bought in increments of months or years, which frees up the recipient’s budget to continue investing in other privacy products.

#4 James Bond Didn’t Like Bugs And Neither Should You. Here’s Small But Useful Gadgets

If you’re looking for affordable stocking stuffers you can give as gifts, check these gadgets out. They’re small but effective measures to protect people’s privacy.

#5 Bonus For Folks Who Don’t Love The Idea Of A Fat Man Invading Their Home By Sliding Down Their Chimney, Even On Christmas: Ask The Experts For Personal Privacy Measures

If you’re close (or as close as you can get) to someone that is passionate about privacy, talk to them and ask what you can do to take steps in maintaining your own privacy. Ask how you can help them, too. Are there anything they’re missing or wish they could add to their privacy routine? They’ll appreciate your interest and effort, and you’ll get some tips on building your own privacy palace. Honestly, one of the most difficult things about maintaining your privacy is getting other people to invest in their own privacy as well. If the line is secure on their end, you’ll rest easier, and vice versa!

Privacy Pro Tip: Before you start searching for the right gift, consider downloading the Startpage extension. It will keep ads from following you around the web. Give this tip away as a holiday gift, and surprise your family and friends with how easy it is to download, and how safe it makes them feel. The only good cookies this time of year are shaped like St. Nick and are full of sugar. Happy Holidays!

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