About the Toolkit

About the Toolkit

Just as you have a right to shred credit card bills that you do not want to end up in the wrong hands, you have a right to privacy in your online activities. While there’s nothing close to an online paper shredder, there are many actions you can take to ensure that your information is not used to harm you. This project aims to give you easy-to-implement tools to help protect yourself online and beyond.

I’m not a criminal. Why should go through all of these extra steps?

Online privacy is essential for everyone. In fact, protecting yourself on the Internet is necessary to stop criminal actions. The information you give up every minute you are online is valuable, whether to criminals, foreign governments, or large corporations.

Criminals can do a great deal of harm to you with the information you put online. They can charge purchases to your credit cards. They can impersonate you and get your friends and family to send them money. And they can also expose some of your more secretive actions and blackmail you.

Nearly every day, we hear stories of foreign governments trying to impact elections across the globe. The easiest way to do this, however, isn’t through changing election results. Instead, it’s done through learning about people. They study individuals like yourself, learning what makes you angry or fearful, and then they use that information against you – and all of us – in order to try to change how we think about the world around us.

Lastly, companies track nearly every action you make online in an effort to better get to know you. Years ago, one retailer was found to be creating a “pregnancy prediction score,” tracking products people looked at, such as lotion. In one instance, the company sent a teenage girl coupons in the mail for baby items, long before her father knew she was pregnant, leading to an awkward conversation. But that was 2012. Such algorithms are significantly more advanced today, and advertisers likely know things about yourself that even you do not yet know.

I’m not very tech-savvy. Can I implement these changes?

Yes! There are certainly more advanced means of protecting yourself online, but that will not be our focus. Our goal is to provide you with the easiest means of protecting yourself that won’t significantly impact how you currently use technology. Along the way, we will discuss more advanced techniques, but feel free to stick to your comfort level. While no method will protect you 100% of the time, each change you make will help.