Dear Internet User

This is no prank, joke, spam or publicity gimmick. Please take this seriously. Many of you are already aware of it. For you, it’s a gentle reminder.

I write this post after several months of careful study and personal experiences of trial and error. The Snowden episode was a wake-up call for me because as a writer I had been documenting and gathering material for a large project. But then, as the cliche goes, life happened and I got occupied with various things. Last year onwards, I resumed my mission with renewed zeal. During this time, I did expose myself to potential risks in order to to find out the possibilities. And the whole exercise gave me nightmares. For days. Many of you have an idea what I am discussing here. I won’t go into the details. This will be brief.

There is no such thing as free email. Services like Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo and many others make their money from surveillance: they build a profile on your behavior and your real/speculated desires and then bombard you with advertising specifically targeted towards you. You mostly ignore it, but have you ever wondered how do you get to see the Amazon ads, the Ebay offers and the spam in your mail selling you random products are services like Penis Enlargement and Holidays in Asia?

Funny, right? Well, no. It’s not. And since when is it okay?

Every click, every stop, every glance of yours is monitored. Every search engine, every website you visit keeps a track of you. For them you are just a combination of keywords. And more often that not, this information gets sold to a third party. And they source it to someone else. And it goes on. Pause here and think a bit about this. Because on a personal level, I had ignored this for years. But then I saw the possibilities of this indifference. It’s not good.

Imagine the photographs of your family vacation, with your spouse, children and friends, intimate moments of familial joy and innocence being shared across the web. Without your consent or knowledge. To faceless consumers sitting behind dark screens.

Your information is NOT safe. Be very careful about what you share on the internet: your personal information, any traceable information and especially your photographs.

Be aware. Don’t believe everything you read. Don’t let the establishment assure with articles about famed security analysts and their theories. Don’t.

Strengthen your internet browsers, the authentication process for logging in and improve the security loopholes. Go off ‘public’ mode. Be careful about the websites you visit and what you write on Social media, even in private messages and mails that claim to be encrypted. Truth is: they are not. It’s 2017 and very few things come free. Not too hard to believe, right?

You must feel buoyed by the sudden attention after a new Instagram post, where you are with a few friends on the beach or with someone close, or in a new dress outside a coffee shop which is geo-tagged. But do you know where it can go and how fast, all with the click of a button?

Privacy is your right. Despite the comfort of your secured jobs, adventurous days, despite the memes and fun and rants and all the jokes and causal running around, in many ways our world is Orwellian. And this is not a conspiracy theory.

There are websites on the deep part of the internet that will shatter everything thing that was a myth to you where every information is up for sale. Everything. Even death

Protect yourself. Protect your freedom. And be careful about what you search for on the internet. Even searching CIA secrets, Organic marihuana, William Blake, The Turner Diaries or Cannibal community is not humorous. Not anymore. It does not happen entirely like the Hollywood movies you see. You don’t always get to see the action. And that is the point.

Be goofy and funny, but not naive. Be alert.

Be safe. Be brave. Protect yourself.

Put the warpaint on. And fight for your basic right. No one should have any right to your life without your consent.

Learn to hide your trails. Boost your knowledge. Go incognito. And find alternate platforms which have still not sold out. Go anon. Instead of checking the fees of Guiradians of The Galaxy star cast, Justin Bieber memes, expected dates for monsoon in Scotland and Twin Peaks Torrents, sit and read about cyber security. Be careful about the articles you read too.

And act. ACT.

Good luck.