clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Trump will be a disaster for online privacy. Here’s how to protect yours before it’s too late.

Use encryption.

Debate Reemerges Over Public Surveillance As Security Camera Footage Aids In Catching Boston Suspects Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Donald Trump doesn’t like encryption. He threatened to call for a boycott of Apple products because they wouldn’t undermine the encryption on the iPhone.

Trump also loves surveillance. When he was a candidate, he said he wanted to place mosques under U.S. surveillance and create a national database to track Muslims.

He is also in favor of NSA mass surveillance. And on the topic of hacking his enemies, Trump said, “I wish I had that power. Man, that would be power.”

As president, he will have that power.

Edward Snowden has revealed that the United States already engages in mass digital surveillance of Americans. But the federal government has gone to great lengths to keep its domestic surveillance operation under wraps, getting broad clearance through secret court orders issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court.

Under Trump, that surveillance is likely to be a lot more overt.

But the ability to have private conversations, to research controversial topics without fear of government reprisal and to engage in political activism and organizing are all key functions of American democracy.

If you’re concerned about expanded surveillance, there are a number of privacy-enhancing tips and products you can try that will help keep your digital footprint under wraps.

Texts and phone calls

Leaks have shown that the NSA and the FBI are capable of intercepting text message and phone data. To keep your text messages private, use a service that offers end-to-end encryption.

Apple’s iMessages does this, but only between iMessage users — if you text someone who’s on an Android phone, those messages won’t have the same protection.

Signal, a popular encrypted text messaging app Snowden recommends, and Facebook’s WhatsApp, are other options. And both of them work on Apple as well as Android phones. Like iMessage, both parties of the text conversation need to have the app installed for the encryption to work.

Internet search data

If you want to keep your internet search queries private, try installing Tor, an internet browser that anonymizes your activity by routing the data through multiple destinations before sending it out onto the worldwide web.

There are also tools like HTTPS Everywhere, a browser extension which helps to encrypt connections between websites.

Two-factor authentication and updates

Passwords are hackable, especially if you reuse the same one over and over, like many people do. Don’t do that.

One thing you should do to protect your privacy is enable two-factor authentication for all of your accounts. Most services offer the option to text a code to a phone number on file for your account, so only someone with both your password and your cellphone can access it.

Also, make sure all your apps and services are fully updated to take advantage of any recent security improvements.

This article originally appeared on