Top 5 Privacy Myth Busting
We hear a lot about data privacy, but how do you know whether it’s a fact, opinion, or flat out myth?
For example: “There’s no such thing as privacy.”
This statement is frequently tossed around, but is it true? We don’t think so.
Privacy is difficult to maintain, especially in the digital age. Nevertheless, you can still do plenty to protect your privacy from Big Tech, the government, hackers, or your employer. Here are other popular privacy myths we would love to dispel.
Myth #1: Private mode is completely private.
Every browser has its own version of private mode. Chrome has Incognito, Safari and Firefox have Private Browsing, and Microsoft Edge has InPrivate. But! Private mode doesn’t make you as anonymous as you think.
It’s a great tool for removing your browsing data from your personal device, but your personal data can still be collected by the browser and third parties.
According to Firefox:
“Your Internet service provider, employer, or the sites themselves can still gather information about pages you visit. Private Browsing also doesn’t protect you from keyloggers or spyware that may be installed on your computer.” (https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/private-browsing-use-firefox-without-history)
To read more about the limitations of Private Mode: https://www.startpage.com/privacy-please/privacy-advocate-articles/browsing-in-private-anonymous-view-vs-private-mode
Myth #2: All you need is a VPN to be completely anonymous online.
A Virtual Private Network, also known as a VPN, is a private network that allows you to encrypt data you send and receive. It’s great for hiding your IP address from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). But! A VPN can’t protect you against browser fingerprinting, keep search results private, or hide your location from non-private search engines.
In 2017, an independent study found 38% of VPNs injected malware or malvertising (software designed to damage or gain access to the users’ information). https://blog.csiro.au/tinker-torrentor-streamer-spy-vpn-privacy-alert/
To read more about the limitations of VPNs: https://www.startpage.com/privacy-please/privacy-advocate-articles/searching-in-private-startpage-vs-vpns
Myth #3: I have nothing to hide, so I don’t need to protect my privacy.
Privacy is a fundamental human right. Like other human rights, we have an obligation to protect our right to privacy because it affords us freedom and opportunity.
Edward Snowden famously said:
“Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”
If you’re still not convinced, how about if we tell you it’s costing you money? Governments and law enforcement agencies aren’t the only ones collecting and using your personal. Big Tech is also collecting your personal data and selling it to digital advertisers. In turn, advertisers and e-commerce companies like Amazon target you with ads and raise prices accordingly.
To find out how dynamic pricing, search data, and global events can be used to make you pay higher, unfair prices: https://www.startpage.com/privacy-please/startpage-articles/is-it-a-sale-or-a-targeted-ad
Myth #4: Governments can’t spy on me without a warrant.
Governments around the world engage in various levels of surveillance – from mass surveillance to highly targeted surveillance. Many have laws protecting citizens from these types of surveillance. In the US, the Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. But! The US government has successfully found ways around the constitution.
The government and various law enforcement have been getting around the Fourth Amendment through legislation like the Patriot Act and loopholes that allow them to buy personal data from third parties.
In Vice, Joseph Cox highlighted that the Secret Service bought “location data, that they would ordinarily need a warrant or court order to obtain.” Senator Ron Wyden commented:
“It is clear that multiple federal agencies have turned to purchasing Americans’ data to buy their way around Americans’ Fourth Amendment Rights.” (https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/jgxk3g/secret-service-phone-location-data-babel-street)
To learn more about different forms of government surveillance and how to protect yourself: https://www.startpage.com/privacy-please/startpage-articles/protecting-yourself-against-government-surveillance
Privacy protection policies like GDPR and CCPA are a step forward in the right direction. We applaud the EU and California for putting forward policies that put users and consumers in control of their personal data. But! Governments change and with that, policies do as well.
- People around the world to advocate for their own privacy protection by using products that center privacy and putting pressure on Big Tech to adopt user privacy-respecting policies.
- Companies, particularly Big Tech, to build products and services with a strong foundation in privacy protection for users.
To learn about privacy protection legislation: https://www.startpage.com/privacy-please/privacy-awareness/data-privacy-laws
Privacy ProTip: Avoid using privacy products from companies based in the United States. If a law enforcement agency provides a warrant, the company must comply. If the company is based in the EU, your personal data is less likely to fall into the hands of the US government.