Privacy Workshop May 1, 2017 [alert] [howto]

Privacy Workshop at Winchester Public Library   80 Washington Street, Winchester, MA 01890 | 781.721.7171   Monday May 1st, 2017, 6:30pm to 8:30pm

This workshop is open to the public and is free of charge.

Please sign up (space is limited):, select May, and the icon:


Note: I cannot see who has registered, just the total number, so if you have questions email me.

What we WILL talk about:

  • Why is it (privacy) important?
  • Who tracks you?
  • What simple steps can we take today to improve search / browsing privacy?
  • What are some private email services?
  • Private messaging apps for mobile (Signal)
  • How to anonymize your location?

Bring (have a full charge on your battery, wall power plugs are very few):

  • Your mobile phone (have your AppStore id and password handy to install apps)
  • Your laptop

What we will DO:

  • How to properly use StartPage (to privately search on google)
  • Install Signal and practice using it
  • Get a private email account and practice using it

What we will NOT cover:

  • Other aspects of Security (Integrity or Availability) (will cover Confidentiality)
  • Backup, Passwords, Other topics are important but not for today

qrcode.39288624Come to a hands-on workshop and bring home privacy tools working on your mobile phone and computer.

Why is it important?

  • It’s creepy that strangers have access to your personal information, searches, interests, and preferences.
  • It does not seem right that strangers use and sell your information without your consent, or even your knowledge.
  • When you think “my internet usage and searches are being watched” does it change your behavior? (research shows many people change their behavior when they know they are under observation in ways that limit free speech)
  • Invasion of individual privacy is rationalized under “national security needs” — we all (each) need to decide the balance that is right for us
  • I will not suggest nor condone that anyone break the law. It is a fact however that resistance against laws you consider unjust, can only succeed if the planning is done with some level of private communications.
Note:   At least two churches in town have declared themselves to be “sanctuary churches” in relation to protection of immigrants subject to ICE detention and deportation.   Any discussion of location or activity of these subjects on non-private email or social media, is subject to mass surveillance and detection. Do not make naïve assumptions about the “privacy” of your Comcast, Google, Verizon, AOL, Yahoo email, nor of TXT or iMessage communications.

Who tracks you?

  • Lightbeam add-on for Firefox, or Privacy Badger, or Ghostery, all show 3rd party sites in addition to the primary site you are viewing – [DEMO]
  • First step is commercial collection; second step is government authorities

What simple steps can we take today to improve search / browsing privacy?

  • NOTE: You have to change some habits and ways to use the internet !
  • Use StartPage or DuckDuckGo for online searches and their proxy
    • What is a Proxy ? (Example)
    • Proxy services that enable privacy, tends to disable features (Javascript, flash, videos)
  • Install Privacy Badger, Ghostery, Lightbeam to block trackers and ads
    • Tracking is sometimes now required (see LATimes article) to view articles and content
TIP: Hover over link before clicking (to see where it would go) on computers // for smartphones or tablets use the “long press” method.   Practice it.

Private messaging apps for mobile (Signal)

  • Install and configure Signal and practice using it now, see which messages are protected and what are not
  • Signal and other apps only protect messages “in flight”, not on the devices at the sender or receiver end
  • Some suggest that journalists should NOT use Signal (if they are subject of targeted surveillance)

Private email services

  • Protonmail (based in Switzerland) – free level access via web and mobile app
  • StartMail (based in Netherlands) – nominal fee, try free for a week
Note: Both Protonmail and StartMail have capability to set “timed self-destruct” messages.
  • Many Others (I have no recent direct experience with others)

Anonymize your location

  • Geo-location is everywhere – your GPS coordinates are embedded in every photo, your IP address reveals your location (, be aware of leaving your breadcrumb trail.
  • Protonmail and StartMail both do not log your IP address (network location)
  • The method of choice is TOR (the onion router) — brief description and demo.


We will leave some time for open questions / discussion, or if there is a lot of time left, install TOR and go over “best practices” that won’t negate your efforts (what not to do while using TOR).