Ronald Bailey gathers up some resources you might want to investigate if you’d prefer not to have the NSA or other government agencies watching your online activities:
First, consider not putting so much stuff out there in the first place. Wuergler devised a program he calls Stalker that can siphon off nearly all of your digital information to put together an amazingly complete portrait of your life and pretty much find out where you are at all times. Use Facebook if you must, but realize you’re making it easy for the government to track and find you when they choose to do so.
A second step toward increased privacy is to use a browser like DuckDuckGo, which does not collect the sort of information — say, your IP address — that can identify you with your Internet searches. Thus, if the government bangs on their doors to find out what you’ve been up to, DuckDuckGo has nothing to hand over. I have decided to make DuckDuckGo my default for general browsing, turning to Google only for items such as breaking news and scholarly articles. (Presumably, the NSA would be able to tap into my searches on DuckDuckGo in real time.)
Third, TOR offers free software and a network of relays that can shield your location from prying eyes. TOR operates by bouncing your emails and files around the Internet through encrypted relays. Anyone intercepting your message once it exits a TOR relay cannot trace it back to your computer and your physical location. TOR is used by dissidents and journalists around the world. On the downside, in my experience it operates more slowly than, say, Google.
Fourth, there is encryption. An intriguing one-stop encryption solution is Silent Circle. Developed by Phil Zimmerman, the inventor of the Pretty Good Privacy encryption system, Silent Circle enables users to encrypt their text messages, video, and phone calls, as well as their emails. Zimmerman and his colleagues claim that they, or anyone else, cannot decrypt our messages across their network, period. As Wuergler warned, this security doesn’t come free. Silent Circle charges $10 per month for its encryption services.
However, your mobile phone is a beacon that can’t be easily masked or hidden:
Now for some bad news. Telephone metadata of the sort the NSA acquired from Verizon is hard — read: impossible — to hide. As the ACLU’s Soghoian notes, you can’t violate the laws of physics: In order to connect your mobile phone, the phone company necessarily needs to know where you are located. Of course, you can avoid being tracked through your cell phone by removing its batteries (unless you have an iPhone), but once you slot it back in, there you are.
For lots more information on how to you might be able to baffle government monitoring agencies, check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Surveillance Self-Defense Web pages.