China and Iran at Bottom of Report on Government Censorship

How does Internet freedom compare between different countries? A report out this week from Freedom House aims to answer that question by ranking countries according to online censorship policies. The report, titled “Freedom on the Net 2015,” presents information about Internet censorship in 88 countries. It assigns each country a score while also providing reports on individual countries that detail …

Bleep: A P2P, Secure and Private Alternative to Skype for VoIP

Is Skype private? Not really. Bleep offers a better option for making free and private voice or video calls over the Internet using VoIP. Skype, the leading VoIP app, offers basic privacy features, most notably built-in encryption. But Skype is closed-source software, which means only Skype developers know how it truly works, or what information the application gathers about users. …

Houthi-Controlled Yemen Extends Internet Censorship

Add Houthi-controlled Yemen to the list of places currently subject to government-sponsored Internet censorship. With the help of a Canadian company, Houthi rebels in Yemen’s civil war are blocking online content. The Houthis are an ethnic group that effectively seized control of Yemen over the last year. They weren’t the first to introduce Internet censorship to the country — it …

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How to Ensure All Your Traffic Goes through a VPN on Linux

Is your VPN protecting all of your online activity? Depending on how the software is configured, it may not be. But if you’re using Linux, it’s easy enough to force the VPN to encrypt all of your traffic. Here’s how. Some VPN servers and clients are configured by default to route only certain traffic through the VPN server. That’s often …

Ukraine’s Cyberpolice Plan Registry of Censored Websites

Ukraine became the latest country to introduce systematic online censorship this month with the government’s announcement of a “cyberpolice” force. According to the government, the main purpose of Ukraine’s cyberpolice is to combat criminal activity on the Internet, such as identity theft, phishing, money laundering and digital piracy. The force’s creation is part of a broader effort to reform the …

Russian Censors’ Effort to Block Tor Suffers Setback

Censored Person

Internet censorship in Russia has grown more difficult for the government. A company hired to identify and monitor people who use Tor to circumvent online censorship has jumped ship. In 2014, the Russian government contracted with the Central Research Institute of Economics, Informatics and Control Systems “to study the possibility of obtaining technical information on users and users’ equipment” related …

Using Mailvelope to Keep Emails Private with PGP Encryption

Using an email provider that doesn’t track you is one way to help protect your email privacy. But that’s only half the battle. Encrypting your email is also important. Here’s how to do it using Mailvelope. Mailvelope is an email encryption tool that uses PGP to prevent unauthorized access to email content. PGP is the gold standard of email encryption, …

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Australian Government Accepts Digital Identity and Monitoring Policy

Australians aren’t required to carry physical ID cards. But they may soon have to carry the digital equivalent when using the Internet, according to a new policy that threatens online privacy in Australia. On Oct. 20, the Australian government announced its acceptance of measures that would enforce a “federated-style model of trusted digital identities.” The policy has been under development …

Microsoft Adds Small Privacy Improvement to Windows 10

Microsoft may be improving privacy in Windows 10, but only very slightly. The company has added a feature that prompts users for permission before collecting certain information about them. A few days ago, a Twitter user reported that build 10568 of Windows 10, which has leaked for download on the Internet, gave him the option to review files that Windows …

Disable Autocomplete in Firefox to Protect Privacy in Searches

Here’s an online privacy vulnerability you may face every day but have probably never thought about much: the autocomplete feature in your Web browser. Keep reading to learn why autocomplete is a privacy risk and how to disable it. Autocomplete is the feature that makes suggestions about search terms as soon as you begin typing them in Google, Bing, Yahoo! …

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ConfigFox Helps You Configure Firefox for Security and Privacy

There are a lot of privacy and security settings in Mozilla Firefox that you can tweak to maximize your privacy. But configuring Firefox through the built-in “about:config” interface is tricky. ConfigFox offers a user-friendly alternative. The idea behind ConfigFox is to provide a way to change Firefox settings that is less complicated than the about:config panel. about:config contains hundreds of …

Report: Lenovo Computers Secretly Monitor User Behavior in Windows

Lenovo computers are a bad choice if you’re worried about protecting your privacy, especially as the Windows 10 era dawns. That’s according to a report that Lenovo computers come preinstalled with software that uploads data about user behavior to the company. The discovery was reported by Michael Horowitz, who noted that his Lenovo machine runs a program called Lenovo Customer …

Microsoft Report Says China Tops List of Censorship Requests

China tops the list of governments that requested censorship of content from the Bing search engine and other Microsoft online platforms in 2015. That’s according to Microsoft’s latest Content Removal Requests Report. The report, published last Wednesday, lists requests that Microsoft received during the first half of 2015 for removing content or disabling accounts in its products. According to Microsoft, …

Purify Provides Ad Blocking for Mobile Devices

We constantly update our list of general-purpose ad blockers. What if you’re in need of an ad blocker designed specifically for Apple iOS devices like iPhones and iPads? In that case, Purify Blocker is a good solution. Most all-purpose ad blockers work as browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome, the most popular cross-platform browsers. Few support Safari, the default browser …

Apple Censors iPhone and iPad News App in China

The latest example of Internet censorship in China involves a news app in Apple’s iOS 9 for iPhones and iPads, which the company has begun blocking for people travelling through China. Reports of Apple blocking its News app — which delivers, well, news to mobile device users — first appeared earlier this month. A few days ago, the New York …

Anoncoin Promises Privacy-Friendly, Anti-Censorship Online Currency

Browsing privately is one thing. Paying privately online is another. Anoncoin, a Tor- and I2P-compatible Internet currency with an anti-censorship focus, offers a solution to the latter challenge. Anoncoin bills itself as “a privacy-centric currency fully compatible with the I2P and TOR darknets. Anoncoin will be available no matter what the authorities do.” Anoncoin works in a way similar to …

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Verisign Offers Free Public DNS Service with Privacy Promise

Verisign, the Internet security and domain registration company, has become the newest organization to offer a free public DNS service, called Verisign Public DNS, which it says will ensure users’ privacy online. The service, which was announced this fall, provides better security and more reliability than the default DNS services that most people get through their Internet Service Providers (ISPs), …

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DNSCrypt Offers Encrypted, Secure Domain Name Server (DNS) Resolution

Note: DNSCrypt has been discontinued. Please see this article for alternative suggestions. Encrypted DNS adds another layer of privacy and security to your Internet connection, especially if you’re worried about DNS leaks. Here’s how to configure encrypted DNS using DNSCrypt. Your computer uses DNS queries to figure out the IP addresses of the servers that host the websites or other …