Online Privacy Measures

The follow list contains solutions to Online Privacy Problems that individuals face everyday. The list is a work in progress.

Check out the sister article to this one that focuses providing a list of specific tools people can use to improve their privacy sorted from Easist to Hardest to deal with: Improving Your Internet Privacy



Search Engines Collect & Retain Your Searches

Modern Search Engines (like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc) collect information on you and your search habits. They keep track of what you search for, linking it to your IP, and storing it for 6-18 months.

  • Use an anonymizing proxy Search Engine. All 3 below are good choices. Try all 3 and choose your favorite. You can't go wrong!
  • StartPage Startpage is a company out of the Netherlands that runs a search engine proxy. Basically, you submit your search to them, they strip off all of the extra data that identifies you and then they send the search to Google. They get the results back and pass them back to you. In this way Google sees the searches coming from Startpage but is unable to link the search to you.
  • DuckDuckGo DuckDuckGo is similar to Startpage but the content is provided by different Search Engines. DuckDuckGo gets results from Bing and others. Like Startpage, DuckDuckGo anonymizes your search queries and blends them in with millions of others.
  • IxQuick IxQuick is the parent company of StartPage and the behavior and structure is very similar. The only difference is that while Startpage provides content from Google. IxQuick provides content from nearly everybody BUT Google.


  1. The auto-complete feature of Google's search (ie: you type "How do" and Google shows you a list of potential searches such as "how do you play 100 floors", "how do you get pink eye", "how does sensa work", "how does twitter work".
  2. Since Google won't be able to collect information on your search habits, targeted ads provided by Google won't be quite as targeted anymore.
  3. Some of the special features & tools that appear on the left & right of the standard Google Search Results won't be available to you.


  • Startpage is automatically used as part of the Tor Browser Bundle. See the section on Installing the Tor Browser Bundle below.
  • Firefox
    1. To set your startpage to Startpage
      1. Click the Menu Icon in the upper right corner
      2. Select Preferences
      3. Click the General tab
      4. Type "" in the box labelled Home Page
    2. To force the Address Bar (Top URL/Search Bar in Firefox) to use Startpage
      1. Open a new tab and type "about:config" into the address bar & hit enter
      2. Type "keyword" into the search box
      3. Double click keyword.URL, type "" into the text box and click OK
      4. Ensure that keyword.enabled is set to "true". If it is not double click it and it should update
    3. To set Startpage to be your default Search Provider
      1. Follow this link to the Firefox Startpage HTTPS Privacy Search Engine Addon
      2. Click the green + Add to Firefox button
      3. Check "Make this the current search engine" and hit OK
  • Google Chrome
    1. It is recommended you use Firefox instead
    2. To set your startpage to Startpage
      1. Click the Spanner Icon in the upper right corner
      2. Select Settings
      3. Under On startup check Open a specific page or set of pages. and click Set pages
      4. If a page is set (such as Google), hover over it and hit the X that appears on the right
      5. Type "" in the box labelled Enter URL...
    3. To force the Omnibar (Top URL/Search Bar in Google Chrome) to use Startpage
      1. Click the Spanner Icon in the upper right corner
      2. Select Settings
      3. Under Search click the Manage search engines... button
      4. Scroll all the way to the bottom and enter the following information
        • Type "Startpage" in the Add a new search engine box
        • Type "" in the Keyword box
        • Type "" in the URL with %s in place of query box

Traffic Analysis

Using a method known as Traffic Analysis, 3rd parties (such as Wireless Snoopers, ISPs, etc) can, tell where you are, potentially where you are from, who you are talking to, etc. This can have potentially negative consequences if you are abroad, if are a, potential, target for foreign spies based on your job, etc.
The Tor Project. The Tor Project basically causes your internet traffic to be bounced around amongst a series of random, anonymous, computers to effectively hide all of the location data about the information your are transmitting & receiving.

  1. Some websites features that are powered by your physical location won't work correctly.
  2. Since your web traffic is routed through several other computers (which are typically setup by volunteers) your connection will appear slower.


DNS Request Logging

DNS (or Domain Name System) is system that allows conversion from a web address ( to an IP address ( This is an important service because it means we, as internet denizens, don't need to remember obscure IP addresses! The problem, however, is that all of your DNS requests tend to go through the same server. Typically this is run by your ISP. It is a simple matter to log these requests and most DNS servers do just this. This means that every time you visit a webpage a request is made to find the appropriate IP address and, potentially, a line is written to a database noting that your IP address went to a specific website.

The obvious solution is to stop using DNS Servers! This, of course, is unreasonable. The next best thing is to use a DNS server that isn't run by the government, a large corporation, or your ISP. The OpenNIC Project is a community run, alternative DNS network. They organize a variety of DNS servers that either keep no longs, delete them after a short amount of time, or anonymize the data. By selecting the correct DNS server you can get the level of privacy you're comfortable with.
BONUS!: The OpenNIC Project supports a set of alternative TLDs (Top Level Domains). TLDs are things like .com, .net, and .org. OpenNIC adds some others like .free, .geek, and .indy. Domain Names on these alternate TDLs are free to register but are only available to those using the OpenNIC DNS network.

  1. There is potential that the DNS server you select will be slower than your default DNS server. However, it could be faster if your ISP sucks!
  2. Like any other "standard" DNS server you have to trust that the operator of the OpenNIC DNS server that claims to "keep no logs" is actually doing so.


  • Instructions on how to use OpenNIC DNS servers are located here
  • A list of OpenNIC DNS servers can be found here
  • The 4 OpenNIC servers nearest to you can be found here although to find out their logging policy you will have to look here

Insecure Email Content

Most people's email is hosted by either their ISP or a webmail provider like Google or Yahoo. This means that all of your emails are stored on a server owned by someone else. Even if you host your own email server or download your emails from your ISP (and trust that they delete them) the person you sent the email to or received the email from likely suffers from these same issues. Additionally the transmission of emails is often insecure.

Insecure Web Chats

Chat clients such as Google Talk, Facebook Chat, AIM, & ICQ generally don't do a whole lot to secure your messages. In addition that tend to store everything you've ever said on their servers where they happily root through it for marketing information. Maybe they pass that information along to 3 letter agencies as well.


  • OTR


  • Both parties need the plugin