New Year's resolution — let's take back privacy

2020 is a year that none of us will ever forget, COVID-19 changed all of us and as much as we have hope in humanity, it didn't change much for the good. Sure,we have a garden now and get our homegrown vegetables. We also started “The Great Fakeation”, something I will continue with my family whenever I have time and we don't have the time to actually go on a vacation.

However, most of the things that surround us got worst, we officially moved to an 1984 Orwell world in 2020 and now that looks likely to continue into 2021. Contact tracing will be a thing that will be used way after COVID-19. The irony is that it was done long before, we just called it ANALytics and it was to serve us with better ads, sell our data “to make our life's easier” and of course make a few bucks out of it all. Cambridge Analytics was a great wake-up call and spawned a movie called “The Great Hack” on Netflix. If you didn't see it, please do so!

Worldwide, politicians, governments and law enforcement try to force ways into our lives. No more encryption and total surveillance is apparently the answer to a healthier planet. Of course, this is all for our own good. But privacy is a human right, just like freedom of speech, and once we lose any of these, we won't get it back easily, if at all. Or at least it is a long way to get freedom and privacy back. (I hope you realised how I used freedom first yet in the same sentence as privacy — one only exists with the other).

The internet is not anymore a virtual world, it has become a part of the world. In fact, it's most of today's world for many. We work (even more so since COVID-19) on our computers, do video conferences, calls over the internet, and share pictures on social media daily. We order food, books and play games on our computers. We have our cellphones everywhere we go with us. But the internet has evolved so much and yet many  of us don't understand that not everything that is shiny and bright and sounds like fun is just that.

A great example is to compare yourself to your kids. When I grew up, we kicked a ball in the park, if we didn't have a ball, we kicked a can (yes we did a lot of kicking). We used our bikes, we went to the lakes, we read books (made of paper). Today's kids are most of the time on the tablets or cellphones, watching YouTube or maybe even be on social media. If they were on a lake they'd have a cellphone in their hand. Even worse would be your kids on Facebook, your friend's kids are and so yours end up on social media without you actually giving permission.

In 2020, I wrote an an entire chapter on social media within the Privacy Cookbook which I created in order to give you some pointers towards a more secure and private life.

You've made it this far into this New Year's article, so I want to ask you to change your life in 2021. Before I go into this I want you to read this sentence a couple of times, let it sink in and think about it.

Privacy is the most important concept of our time because it influences everything else. Without privacy, we do not know what rules apply. Our lives will be judged according to the rules of somebody else in ways we cannot even imagine.


Let's make a new year's resolution together to try to get a little of our privacy back.

Start by hanging curtains in your house, close the bathroom door when you are in there, even when just to shower! Glad you went this far? Now take the next step and use a DNS service.

Privacy Cookbook - Chapter 2 – Protecting your DNS
We promised you that within this cookbook we will go deeper into the rabbithole....well, here we go and in this chapter let’s start with something simple!DNS! Most people are not aware what DNS is or what it does.
The Domain Name System(DNS) is one of the foundations of the internet, yet most p…

If you are on Android and use the YouTube app, disable it and use NewPipe! 2 reasons, no ads, more privacy! I do not think I need to add more, but I could. Howabout downloading the songs you like (video or MP3). you can use Invidious on a browser if you are on iOS or on your computer.

I do not expect everyone to finally make the switch and go fully tinfoil hat. I don't even ask you to switch to GrapheneOS on your phone or Linux on your desktop. The latter you should do, but let's take privacy one step at a time. What I ask is try to help all of us, living a better, more private in 2021 because if everyone just changes a little… a website owner switching from Google ANALytics to Plausible would be a great move! It would give every one of your visitors one site less to deal with that collects data that shouldn't be collected, sold or shared by or with others.

Block companies that sell your data, you can again use a DNS for this, but you could also use a firewall like NetGuard, AdGuard or Blokada for it.

Now maybe just go one more step and really try to use your computer more often than you use your cellphone and switch the phone off at night. This is not just for privacy, it will also give you a healthier life. In 2020, I learned that with my phone off I have much better evenings and better nights of sleep.

Try to separate business from your private life and maybe do this via two different devices!

Privacy is the principle of separation of concerns, different spaces should not interfere with each other. It is like the principle of separation of powers in government.


Use nitter via RSS or via the website and start using Twitter less (or not at all)... maybe switch to Mastodon, again I can guarantee you'll find great people on the Fediverse, it's cool and it has great people.

If you are still on Facebook, WhatsApp or Messenger, try to limit it on your browser, use a container on Firefox to deal with Facebook and delete the apps on your cellphone. Go the extra step and explain to your friends that you use Signal, Element or Threema, and as much as you want to stay in contact they can’t expect you to stay on WhatsApp… it takes a second to install Signal. If they don't want to do it, they are not respecting you as a friend, and you can always give them your email or telephone number, so they can call you without any encryption for emergencies. I strongly believe that real friends will understand and download Signal or Element. I mention Signal first as it looks and feels a bit like Facebook Messenger and it will work on all of your devices so it's an easy sell to your friends and family.

Start with a little, read our blog, take the time to go over the Privacy Cookbook. My resolution for 2021 is helping every one of our readers to adjust just a little in their lives. Privacy is a birth right, and we need to protect it. Stating that you've nothing to hide is, frankly, a bullshit excuse.

Remember you do have curtains and if you don't then I challenge you to post you showering on Facebook, attach your credit card to it and put your microphone on and podcast 24/7, as I am pretty sure that is not what you do, which makes me wonder...if you have nothing to hide, why aren't you sharing everything?

Happy new year, a year in which we need to do a bit more when it comes to privacy, but let's hope that overall it is a batter year than the lockdowns and the entire 2020 we've had.

Give me six lines written by the most honest man, and there I will find something to hang him.

Cardinal Richelieu

Happy new year, a year in which we need to do a bit more when it comes to privacy, but let's hope that overall it is a batter year than the lockdowns and the entire 2020 we've had.

Stay safe, stay secure, be happy!

The Privacy Advocate

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