Going off the grid online is not as easy as you might think, especially if you use the internet. With that being said going off the grid online can be done although you will have to take extra steps and precautions doing so. You not only have to keep apps and websites from collecting your data but you also have to think about leaks and hacks which are becoming extremely frequent and they usually target large corporations that have a lot of data.
You can go off the grid online by simply not using the internet, on the other hand, if you have no choice but to use the internet then you will have to limit what kind of apps and websites you are using. Your smartphone is a data harvesting device, the more apps you have the more data is collected about you. In addition to this, you should also quit social media, as every social media’s business model is selling your data, so stop using them.
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If an online product is free then you are the actual product, they will monetize your data and sell it to the highest bidder. There are companies that are data brokers, and these companies specialize in buying or acquiring data from different segments of the market and selling it to companies. Personal data is our modern age’s gold rush, and if you have been using the internet for a couple of years then your data has been sold and bought hundreds of times.
The more data a company has on you the easier it can sell you stuff, in addition to this everybody has a clear pattern of behavior, so where you go, how much money you earn, marital status, what you do, and what you buy are just bits of information which are part of your behavior’s grand puzzle. As most apps and websites have the main focus of harvesting your data it will be increasingly difficult of going off the grid while you are online.
For the most part, people who actually live off the grid do not have such problems as they rarely use the internet, if you want to know how to have internet while being completely off the grid then check out my recent article How to have off grid Internet? ( Top 15 Ways ).
Go off grid online by switching to a privacy focused browser
There are billions of searches made every day on different browsers and devices, and the vast majority of browsers and search engines will harvest your data. The problem with switching to a search engine that has privacy as its main focus is that the search information might be off a bit. Some browsers and search engines are extremely proud of being privacy-focused, yet on the backend, they modify certain search terms.
By modifying certain search terms I mean that they will rank their own content, and oftentimes they will promote affiliate offers instead of real search results. Basically, it is a two edged sword, you either keep using your current search engine and give your data away or switch to a new one and hope that the results will be relevant and that the content is not on top because it has affiliate links. If you want to go off the grid and disappear then check out my recent article How to go off the grid and disappear ( In 6 Steps ).
Go off grid online by paying with gift cards
Everybody is so used to shopping online nowadays, but if you want to get off the grid online then you will have to pay for stuff online. This can be fairly difficult for a lot of people to order stuff online, but the good news is that you can have the best of two worlds. Most major retail companies do offer gift cards, usually, these gift cards can be used online and they also can be bought both online and offline.
These gift cards are not actually tied to a certain account so you can create a new account and use the gift cards to purchase the stuff that you need. The downside with purchasing with gift cards is that these gift cards tend to have an expiration date so you have to check for that. If you are wondering how safe is it to live completely off the grid then check out my recent article Is it safe to live off the grid? ( The Truth ).
Use a VPN to go off the grid online
I am sure that by now you have seen numerous ads for VPN, these are Virtual Private Networks that protect your privacy and identity. The way it works is that once you use a VPN, whatever you do online it will pass through the VPN network first which encrypts the data and then goes to the website or app. For the most part, these VPNs do not store any of your data so even if they get hacked there is no data breach.
On the other hand, VPNs do a good job of protecting your privacy but that doesn’t mean that they are completely safe to use. Every device has an IP address, which is basically like a normal address but for a device, VPNs hide this address and use a proxy address. The problem with these proxies is that some websites and apps can detect them and will outright ban your account if you are using a proxy, especially on websites where you are using your payment information.
Go off the grid online by ditching your smartphone
By far one of the most common devices which give your data away for free is your smartphone. Almoust every single app, no matter if it is a paid one or a free one it will collect data from your smartphone. Even apps which in theory shouldn’t even harvest data from you will do it in order to sell the data to a data broker, apps like calculator, weather apps, and so on. For the most part, you can limit how much data these apps collect but if you might find that you will not be able to use these apps if you do not allow them to harvest data from you.
Your smartphone is constantly connected to the internet, and it is constantly sending data from different apps, even if you are not using your smartphone. This is why the more apps you have on your phone the less the battery will last, not because you are using them too frequently but because they are all sending data to different servers.
Go off grid online by using a temporary email
Oftentimes when you subscribe with your email to an app or website you will notice that you start getting spam from different sources. The reason for this is because the website or app owners will sell these emails to data brokers, who will resell them to the highest bidders often to dubious companies. The good news is that you can simply use temporary emails if you are not sure about the app or website.
You do not need to sign up for the temporary email, once you are on the website of the app of a temporary email provider you will be provided with a temporary email for free. These temporary emails last for 10-15 minutes, which is usually enough to get a confirmation email. You can also increase the time of expiration for the most part. The bad news is that once the email has expired you can no longer use it.
Go off grid online by deleting data from your photos
Every photo which you take with your smartphone or a digital camera comes with additional data. Usually, this data contains the GPS coordination, the date, and so on. The size of an image can be doubled with this added information. The bad news is that virtually anybody can take the picture that you have posted on social media and have access to this data, this is why soo many criminals who brag online with photos tend to be found rather quickly.
There are a lot of websites and apps which do strip data away from images, for the most part, they are all the same but the most used one is shortpixel.com, I also use it for the photos on my website as the smaller the image is the faster the page will load.
A lot of people quit or rather tried to quit social media, as most data about you is harvested by social media. The problem with some social media apps is that you can simply not delete your account, no matter for what reason. The most popular social media platforms are Facebook and Instagram, both of them are owned by the same company so ditching one for another due to privacy concerns will not work.
In addition to this Facebook also owns WhatsApp, so you can not really hide from them if you use any of their services. Social media websites can only monetize you if they have your data, as their entire business model is based on your data, they will become increasingly aggressive on what data they will collect from you.
You can set any browser so that once you close the window or exit the app to delete all the browsing data, including history, passwords, cookies, and so on. In theory, this should protect your privacy, but not all browsers and apps actually delete everything, after all, they are making money from your data. Nonetheless, you should still delete your browsing history after every session, this way you will at least limit the data the app or browser has on you.
Use misinformation to go off grid online
If you have no choice but to use the internet then it will be almoust impossible to stop websites and apps from collecting data from your device. On the other hand, you can turn this con into a pro by supplying these websites and apps with misinformation. The best place for misinformation is on social media, just post images and hint that you are at a certain place while you are somewhere else, this is usually useful if someone is stalking you and you want to hide from them.
As you can see there are a couple of things which you can do if you want to go off grid online. However, once you are connected to the internet something will start collecting data on you, either a website, app or some third-party service. Keep in mind that a free online service means that your data is up for grabs.