Unless you live one hut down from Gilligan on that infamous remote tropical island, chances are you have heard that Verizon and some other carriers have been handing over the phone records of every one of their customers to the federal government for some time now.
That’s right, your private calls, texts and Internet communications aren’t private, and they haven’t been for a while.
Does this scare you? It should, even if you live life on the straight and narrow. This policy throws the entire concept of probable cause right out the window.
So how can you ensure your privacy when using your cell phone?
If you’re concerned about Big Brother having complete access to your phone records at all times, there is something you can do about it. Go to your nearest Walmart or Target and buy yourself a prepaid phone, with cash. You can pick one up for as little as $20 or less.
If you use a pre-paid phone, that particular phone and the calls, texts and Internet communications you make with it cannot be traced back to you. The only thing that prying eyes will know about that phone is that it was used to call a certain number at a certain time or that a certain website was accessed by, well…somebody.
Of course there are a few caveats to this approach to anonymity:
1 – The people you call or text will obviously know it was you they were talking to which means your anonymity will be entirely in their hands.
2 – If you use your regular email address or access a website that requires a login, you won’t be so anonymous after all. And no, when it comes to the government tracking you down, the use of a proxy server won’t help you.
3 – If you use your pre-paid phone while at home or at work, the built-in GPS radio might rat you out. Turn it off!
As you can see, true anonymity requires attention to detail and perpetual diligence.
Please note that I do not advocate using a pre-paid phone for illegal or illicit purposes. But if you tend to wear a tin-foil hat (which is sometimes warranted), the anonymity provided by a pre-paid phone just might keep you from getting a 3am knock on your door some time. After all, if a major branch of the federal government is willing to select folks for closer scrutiny based solely upon their political leanings, who knows what might be coming down the pike at some point in the future?