The Investigative Powers Act (UK) just breezed through Parliament - it gives the government unprecedented access to all electronic records even without notifying the individual.

Whether the government tells citizens or not, we know that in many countries your every online action and every cell or landline call is being tracked. But there are ways to protect yourself - special programs, even free software, which help you hide online. They aren’t perfect but they work within limitations.

TOR and online security

First you need to get the TOR browser which hides your computers' location.

You see this sort of thing on TV shows where the "cop" throws their hands up and says "we can’t track the source of such and such." That's TOR at work and it isn’t the exclusive domain (so to speak) of sophisticated hackers.

The TOR network was created in part by the U.S. Navy and Department of State with funding from multiple sources. Although it gets some bad press as the gateway to the Dark/Deep web and The Silk Road's illicit drug and hacker stores, TOR is really for anyone who wants to conceal their identity online. From businessmen or parents to reporters and their sources whose lives may depend on staying hidden.

Download TOR and install it on your computer. You can change apparent locations with the click of a mouse.

Some countries make this is illegal, but in many countries it is perfectly legal to use TOR as long as your use isn’t intended to forward criminal activities which themselves are illegal.

The TOR network is free and easy to use and can even be run from a USB stick. This is very important for anyone to consider using when in a public location such as an Internet Café or use computers both at home and work.

Ordinary people use TOR to protect their children on the web. Without TOR it's easy to find someone's IP address and use that to find where they are. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that hackers can’t locate your children unless they actually post their home address or school and that by using TOR for your children’s browsing they are automatically hidden.

TOR also shows which search engines track everything you do - they won't let you use the TOR browser.

Reporters and sources

News sources are under political and even physical attack more than ever and need to hide their email. If you are a reporter who “tells truth to power,” you need to know about the most secure email system in the world. Protonmail is double encrypted and to read your encrypted email you must first use a password to get into the server and then a second, far more secure password/decryption key to actually read the message. Even the people who run Protonmail can’t decrypt your email so in the unlikely event a government agency forces them to open up their server they can’t disclose the content of your messages under a court order.

Protonmail was created by scientists from MIT and others at CERN. The actual hardware and hard drives are in Switzerland 1000 feet underground so, physically, the servers aren’t just protected by Swiss privacy laws. Protonmail also doesn’t ask for personal information when you get your free account so you don’t have to lie about your full name, age, birthdate, or actual location as smart people do with most email accounts elsewhere..Protonmail also encrypts email messages end-to-end.

Evaporating emails

If all of that isn’t secure enough for you there is also the option of having your emails automatically wiped after a specified time period. That provides protection even if Protonmail is somehow accessed by some government with enough supercomputers to break the encrypted email files.

You say your connections only use the major email services? No problem! Protonmail can still provide Security by sending a special key with encrypted email so using a password you share with them separately they can read the message. You can also send unencrypted messages, making Protonmail useful enough to be your only email.