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Five Tools to Gain Digital Freedom

Five Tools to Gain Digital Freedom

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Digital freedom is often something that is taken for granted, until you happen to stumble upon a page that is censored. If you encounter online censorship first hand, it’s likely that you look for a solution after your frustration clears. Who really wants to be blocked from any sort of web content anyways?
It could be that you’re a traveler who has a great deal of digital freedom in your home country, but you are quickly realizing that this isn’t the case for everyone. Geo-blocking is something no one wants to experience, but it can be a common thing to come across when you’re outside of the United States. Even U.S. internet users come across it from time to time.
Though the U.S. government has been trying to tap into Americans’ digital freedom as well, the most recent news about internet censorship comes from Australia. Australia recently passed a new piece of legislation that would require ISPs to block “pirate” (torrenting) websites such as The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents. If you’re residing in this country, you might want to get yourself a VPN (check here for the best VPN for Australia). The more digital freedom, the better, and a VPN (Virtual Private Network) will unblock these censored sites for you!
No matter where you are, there are tools that you can use to gain digital freedom (you just have to know where to find them). To make it easier on you, here are five examples to get you started.

NoScript
Assuming you use Mozilla Firefox (and you really should), NoScript is a great tool to use. It’s a Firefox add-on that disables Javascript and prevents click-jacking, which could save you from picking up malware. Speaking of malware, malicious scripts are not just from hackers.
Companies and governments can also use them to accomplish less than scrupulous purposes or activities. On top of the above mentioned features, NoScript offers anti-XSS (XSS stands for cross-site scripting). Without getting too technical, cross-site scripting allows attackers to inject their own code from one website into another; this can be used to steal login information and to impersonate you on the net.
Hackers may even use this vulnerability to gain access to your bank account and steal your identity. Of course, this is not something anyone wants to deal with. Luckily, NoScript is an easy (and free!) tool to utilize in order to prevent this type of situation from occurring.

Bitcoin
Bitcoin is a digital crypto-currency, which means that unlike regular currency, it is not controlled by any central bank or government. Because of this, it is not subject to any form of tax and can be traded freely anywhere in the world. Like any commodity, Bitcoin’s value depends largely on demand and confidence in its value.
Bitcoins can be purchased online or in-person at auctions, and their value varies tremendously, but tends to go up in times of volatility. The main downside is that there are few places outside of the internet that will accept Bitcoin. Though the number of retailers who will accept it is slowly growing, it’s not likely that you’ll be able to find many businesses that accept Bitcoin, especially if you are located in a small town instead of a city.
Bitcoin definitely still has its uses though, and since the value of it varies, you might find yourself with a handful of cash one day if you chose to invest in some Bitcoins. The interesting thing is that besides purchasing these with your hard-earned cash, you can also harvest them, though it isn’t likely that it’ll be worth the wait. You’ll spend more in electricity harvesting the Bitcoins than they’ll be worth.

Blur
Websites tracking their visitors has become a real problem; this is where Blur comes in to save the day. Blur (also known as DoNotTrackMe) prevents the sites you visit from tracking you. When you visit a website, the site typically asks your computer where you are.
In most cases, your browser will respond with your location, but with Blur, this information will be denied. This’ll keep the website from being able to slurp up your information. Besides keeping websites from tracking you, Blur has some additional benefits.
You can use it to send encrypted (secure) emails, securely store all of your passwords, make your email address anonymous to websites, and more. For those who are wary of using their credit or debit cards for online payments, Blur can be particularly useful; Blur will pay online retailers on your behalf so they don’t gain access to your card information (you of course will have to reveal it to Blur though, but this is still more secure than revealing it to several online retailers, as your card info is stored in one place rather than in several).
Not all of Blur’s features are free, but you can still use the basic features it has to offer without forking over any money.

ExpressVPN
As mentioned previously, a VPN can be one of the most useful tools you can have when it comes to digital freedom. Online censorship is becoming a larger issue than ever before, with many countries blocking specific sites entirely, or attempting to at the very least. For seasoned internet users, this can especially be disheartening because many of us have a history of driving traffic to some of the sites they have been blocking (no one wants to see their favorite sites become inaccessible after all).
Although there are several different VPNs available, ExpressVPN is recommended. High speed, secure, and offering a 30-day money back guarantee with round-the-clock customer support, ExpressVPN is well worth its low cost (around $8.32 per month). It’ll be able to unblock websites by telling them that the request is coming from a location other than your actual location.
Whether you’re on your smartphone, PC, or tablet, you can disguise your location as one of seventy-eight different countries. Other than unblocking websites, ExpressVPN can also be used as a constant secure connection. Public connections are usually unsecure, which means prying eyes can easily snoop in and see what you’re doing (yep, that guy sitting next to your table at Starbucks could be browsing through your email as you sip your coffee).

Tor
Lastly, Tor is another great tool; it conceals your traffic by running your connection through thousands of other random relays throughout the world. Each relay that your connection passes through removes only one layer of the encryption, essentially meaning that the next relay will not know where the previous relay came from. By the time you reach the final relay, it is bordering on impossible to tell where your original request came from.
In simple terms, Tor makes you literally untraceable. It’s also totally free to use.

Digital Freedom
Whether you decide to use just one of these five tools or all five, you’ll be one step closer to gaining digital freedom. Not only will you be able to have more control over your internet sessions, but you’ll also be browsing the net securely. So unblock those websites and enjoy!

Cassie Phillips is a technology writer with a passion for digital freedom. Cassie also writes about business technology, traveling, new ideas, and internet security.

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