7 Online Privacy Tools To Deter Snooping

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Online privacy protection tools.

Photo by rp72, Flickr

As news continues to pour out about NSA spying and surveillance programs the question of how to protect our online privacy becomes more pressing. It comes down to two choices. Either you understand and accept that your information is out there in the open and move on, or you take action and implement the use of privacy protection tools. Whether you feel that you have nothing to hide or are looking for ways to safeguard your data from marketing trackers, trollers and governments, having options to decide for yourself is a good place to start.

There are many different privacy protection apps and services to choose from depending on your budget, needs and/or concerns. Because there is no one-size-fits-all you may discover that it’s more appropriate to use several at a time. Think of it as a digital privacy protection arsenal that’s tailored just for you.

Featured below are some different vendors and services that specialize in the area of online privacy. Where appropriate costs have been shared. It’s recommended that you visit each service to confirm current capabilities and pricing options in case they’ve changed from the time this post was first published.

The tools and sites below are not sponsored or endorsed by Vuze. They have been selected as potential options for you to research and consider as alternatives to protecting your online privacy. Visits to these external sites means you are subject to their individual terms and conditions, as well as privacy policies.

1. Safe Shepherd

Anchorfree Hotspot Shield online privacy protection tool.

According to Safe Shepherd signing up for their service allows them to “act on your behalf, like Batman, to fight identity thieves, marketers, scammers and creeps.” So far, so good, plus super heroes are always a perk.

So how does Safe Shepherd work? It removes your personal information from people search websites such as Spokeo, Radaris, Intelius and other databases. It comes in two flavors, free and paid. The paid option ranges in cost from $13.95 to $249.95 per month. The higher tier offers a personal privacy consultant who removes individual pieces of information, including submitted records by the user.

2. Sgrouples

Sgrouples online privacy protection tool.

Best summed up as a private social network with some enhanced features. For instance, users can create private groups, take advantage of 4GB of free cloud storage and read the network’s privacy bill of rights. Sgrouples makes it clear to users that they don’t track, don’t profile or share any personal information whatsoever. Lastly, this network operates as a standalone social platform or it can be paired with Facebook and Twitter for better privacy control.

Its strict standards and support of online privacy has been recognized by other organizations too. In 2012, the OTA (Online Trust Alliance) recognized Sgrouples as a leader in the filed of online privacy and security.

3. Ghostery

Ghostery online privacy protection tool.

Ghostery is a powerful online privacy plugin that can be used with nearly every major web browser and mobile device. It works to detect what types of web tracking devices are monitoring your online activity — everything from tags, cookies, beacons and more, are revealed. Access to this data provides empowers users to take control of what they want to share, when they want to share and with whom them want to share.

The Ghostery plugin is free to download and use and promises to be void of adware, spyware and malware.

4. DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo online privacy protection.

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that you may not be familiar with. What makes it different from mainstream search engines is that it’s anonymous. There’s no storing or tracking of a user’s search history and it doesn’t filter a user search query and results based on tracking data.

General feedback from DuckDuckGo users is positive. In fact, many share that it reminds them of the pre-behemoth days of search. As an alternative search option that focuses on online privacy this may be a good solution for some users.

5. Disconnect.me

Disconnect.me online privacy protection tool.

By monitoring and blocking more than 2,000 trackers Disconnect.me is a browser extension that helps users control their browsing history. Developed by an ex-Googler and an attorney to keep online user data private during web search, Disconnect.me’s anti-tracking and anti-ad tracking has expanded privacy functions to other areas. Over the summer Disconnect Kids was launched to keep their data private too.

Disconnect.me is open source and pay what you want software (free or make a donation).

6. AnchorFree Hotspot Shield

Anchorfree Hotspot Shield online privacy protection tool.

Where other online privacy tools focus on browsing and trackers that are gleaning your data, Hotspot Shield is concerned with online threats like hackers and malware. The VPN service has a suite of features that make web browsing private and secure. Hotspot Shield claims that users can surf anonymously, hide their IP addresses, receive website malware alerts and more.

This product is available in a free ad-supported version with limited functionality and an Elite version starting at $29.95 per year.

7. Frankly

Frankly online privacy protection app.

The newest kid in the online privacy tool arena is the mobile messaging app, Frankly. What makes Frankly unique from other competing messaging apps is that it allows users to send text and photo messages anonymously and they self-destruct. Also in the works is a group chat function where everyone is anonymous. This could be used to solicit open feedback from co-workers or learn how a meeting or presentation may have been perceived.

Frankly has boosted security transmission on all communication, including encryption so that messages can’t be intercepted. Couple this with the anonymity of the apps user interface and it becomes a decent privacy tool.

The app is free to download and available for iOS and Android devices.

Whether you’re comfortable with sharing openly or feeling that it’s better to keep some things to yourself it’s good to have options. Have you come across any good online privacy tools? What do you like about them?

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We have no commercial relationships with any of the vendor discussed in this blog, and disclaim responsibility for them and their goods and services.

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Sarah Hartshorn is a marketing, public relations and social media professional with Vuze. She blogs about content, torrents, social media and a number of other tech topics. Sarah has been involved with traditional and digital marketing since 1998.
  • Robin

    I use a couple of these. More relevant these days are apps for your phones which are very easy to access by anyone in range. Can you do a list of those?

    • http://www.vuze.com Sarah

      Hi Robin – That’s a great suggestion and something that’s worth exploring in more detail. Consider it added to out list of upcoming blog topics. Stay tuned!

  • Melissa

    This list is the reason I’m going to start using Vuze. Thank you for caring about Privacy.

  • https://www.facebook.com/DakinAssociates Shaun Dakin

    All useful tools. Try the EPIC browser as well.

    Shaun Dakin
    @PrivacyCamp