On the size of the mountain you’re just about to climb—why you should be thankful to “A Man and his Dog”—why even if you don’t end up working on a “chain gang”, you’ll still end up working with the product of their “hard labour”—why you shouldn’t trust us!
Climb every Mountain
Now, we don’t want to put you off before you even get started, and certainly if you’re a Mr. Boodie then a private life will not prove so elusive and you can stop reading at this point—before you make yourself feel quite unwell!
But if you’re a Herr Blooer or a Ms. Dent and you’re starting from scratch then expect to spend about six months getting to understand the concepts, searching for potential products and services, and then testing that your selected privacy solution works as intended, and is not just providing yet another live-feed into Big Brother’s ever-growing database.
From “A Man and his Dog”
Now wouldn’t it be nice if you could buy a computer appropriately configured with all the software you needed to maintain your privacy. Unfortunately, the software developed by large corporations—who just might package everything together for you—is usually suspect, to say the very least. Instead, the software you’ll need invariably comes from small teams and from “one man and his dog” outfits. It comes from people who do not get paid or who rely on donations. And it always comes from people who have more to do than time to do it in. The result is usually software that gets tested on a limited range of platforms—and Murphy’s Law dictates that the platform you want to use was not among them! To add to your woes, the software is likely to be accompanied by rather inscrutable documentation that is not intended to endear itself to a newcomer—especially to a newcomer who’s in a hurry.
Working with the “Chain Gang”
Invariably you’ll find that effective privacy solutions consist of a long chain of software programs, each of which was written by a different person. Nonetheless, each must receive information from its predecessor and pass it along the chain of command to its successor according to standards that may only be partly implemented. Your lack of knowledge as to what’s likely to have gone wrong together with a lack of documentation or log files telling you what actually has gone wrong can result in weeks of frustration as you try countless re-installs and different parameter combinations, with the ever-diminishing expectation than one day it will all work. And what’s even more galling is that you’ll find endless postings on the web by people who got it to work the first time around with no bother!
Why you can’t trust us!
We’ll do our best to help, but if privacy is important then you’d be unwise just to do what we tell you to do. For a start without understanding the issues and reading around the subject you won’t know whether the advice we offer is good advice or not. What if this site is a Big Brother sting set up to gain your confidence and then direct you towards compromised software that contains a backdoor? Just because a site has an anti-Big Brother flavour to it doesn’t mean that its authors have your best interests at heart: it could be a sting, it could be a scam, or it could be some business whose strengths lie in marketing rather than in software development.
There’s many a Slip…
However, the main reason why you should take the long road around and understand the issues is that it is very, very easy to set up a privacy solution that doesn’t work. You may find that the software you purchased adequately protects one aspect of your privacy while leaving you completely open on some other front—something that the vendor of the software failed to mention, or was not even aware of.
It’s very, very easy to set up software than appears to work correctly but which is actually leaking information about your activities to your ISP, and hence to Big Brother.
It’s also very, very easy for software that was once set-up correctly to get reset or disabled when you install or upgrade some other software product. So, above all else, you need to be confident that you know how to test that your privacy solution is working correctly—and you need to remember to repeat that test every time before you use it!