As if you needed another reason to protect your personal information, President Trump in April signed a law allowing internet companies to sell your browsing history to whoever they want. The new law scraps a Federal Communications Commission rule that let customers control what internet companies do with information on what websites they visit and with whom they exchange emails. Compounding the problem, the ensuing massive stockpiling of customer data in private hands will be a tempting target for hackers.
To fight back, The Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition partnered with Defending Rights and Dissent to host a digital security workshop on May 9. Aimed at anyone who uses their phone and computer for work and in their personal lives every day, the workshop provided residents with practical tools and skills to guard their online information.
The Workshop was hosted Jeff Landale, Executive Assistant at X-Lab, an innovative think tank at Penn State University focusing on technology and public policy. He spoke about the different threats most people encounter online and compared digital security to safety features in a car. “You wouldn’t drive a car if it didn’t have seat belts,” Landale told the crowd.
A spirted crowd peppered Jeff with questions about the benefits of using a web browser that does not track users (Duck Duck Go) and encrypted messaging apps, like Signal, a popular app for those who want to protect their text messages. Using ad blockers and virtual private networks (VPNs) were also discussed.
“Whether you’re supporting victims of domestic violence, engaging in activism, or just buying something online, everyone has a reason to want to protect their security and privacy on the internet,” Landale said.
While many of the protections discussed at the workshop are relatively new, protecting yourself digitally in the Trump era will be the same as protecting yourself in any era, since good digital practices are important no matter who’s in power.
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