Continuing our look into maintaining your privacy both in public and private areas, we’re now turning our attention to phone use. With the recent revelations about broad invasive surveillance programs currently being implemented by top federal agencies, the issue of phone privacy could not be more relevant.
Even before the recent news regarding digital dragnets being carried out by the federal government, the issue of phone privacy was still a serious concern.
It’s become abundantly clear that the government tracks the call activities of practically everyone in the country and much of the information can be stored on servers for many months at a time. Call activity, call location, and even prior text message information can be accessed remotely from your phone service and given to authorities.
Here are some tips to keep in mind regarding your phone use and how to keep your communications and location data hidden from prying eyes:
1. Use a prepaid phone and avoid purchasing minutes using a personal account
If you use a cell phone to conduct private matters, you should seriously consider purchasing a second phone to handle those issues separately. Specifically, this needs to be a prepaid phone where no contractual service plan is involved. Prepaid cell phones operate on minutes bought in packages by the user instead of through a monthly plan, which keeps your identity unaffiliated with the device and its service.
Cell phones are identified via their SIM cards––a removable and interchangeable card which is standardized to most types of cell phones. When buying a cell phone through a service plan, this SIM card is registered to your name at the point of purchase. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from any shop separate from the phone itself and thus free of any link to your identity.
If you adhere to tip number two, this phone will effectively remain unaffiliated with your name or personal information. If your privacy is ever compromised, the phone can be disposed of at any time without any trace of ownership.
2. Always use cash when purchasing phones or minutes
If you invest in a second phone, the method of payment can also affect the level of anonymity you can maintain. Always pay in person using cash when making any kind of transaction involving your private cell phone. This includes everything from obtaining the phone itself to the minutes and accessories you buy alongside it.
Using credit cards in addition to any kind of online transactions will immediately compromise your anonymity since such sales can be traced back to your bank accounts.
3. Take practical steps to ensure your identity is not revealed through alternative means
In addition to taking steps to mitigate the risks of revealing yourself through payment methods, there are many more subtle ways you could give yourself up through your communications and physical movement in real world environments.
4. Be mindful of your environment
Although buying phone-related material in person rather than online is essential to maintaining your anonymity, public and private video surveillance is also a problem that must be navigated in order to make sure your identity is not revealed through your physical presence inside the store when making your purchases.
Before entering a location to make an actual purchase, survey the area for video cameras that could possibly record any transactions that could take place. If it seems impossible to avoid surveillance, wearing a hooded sweatshirt and hat can help you maintain anonymity.
5. Use pseudonyms when labeling your secondary phone’s contacts
Apart from formal names, even nicknames such as “Mom” or “Dad” give away the identities to those you are coming in contact with. Use identifiers that are completely unrelated to real world relationships or common nicknames.
In addition to this, do not identify yourself during any communications whether they’re verbal or text based. Avoid discussing your location or any clues that could potentially identify you based on secondary information.
6. Avoid incriminating communications
Lastly, never use terminology related to illicit materials or activities of any kind. If this kind of material is found tied to your name or the identity of those you come in contact with, you can easily incriminate yourself without knowing.
If you are concerned about personal privacy matters or believe your privacy rights have been illegally infringed upon, contact an experienced Beloit criminal defense attorney at The Fitzgerald Law Firm today for a free consultation. We understand that meetings may not be possible during traditional business hours, so please let us know a time that works for you and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.
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