You will have heard it across Twitter, Facebook, Google plus, and everywhere else you look.

Those dreaded acronyms such as SOPA, PIPA, ACTA are all over the place and if you know what they are, you know why I am posting about them.
However, if you don’t, then please, do read the next bit.

What are they and how do they affect me?

SOPA and PIPA were the first US bills proposed to restrict the internet under the excuse of protecting the entertainment industry.
The argument was that due to the amount of illegal downloads of movies, games, music etc, the entertainment industry was losing out on a lot of money.
The idea was that any site that provided copyright material should be shutdown.

Now I am in Europe, and you would think that this doesn’t really mean anything to you since it’s a US thing.
But the problem is that the majority of those sites you go to are located in the US, so therefore it does affect you.

Also, when a quotation was used from say a newspaper and used on a website, this technically was illegal.

Anyway, SOPA and PIPA are now off the radar but we have ACTA.

How ACTA basically works is that Internet Service Providers and those responsible for a service only are responsible for what their users do online.

A great example of this happened at the beginning of 2012 in the Netherlands.
2 major ISP’s there had been court ordered to block The Pirate Bay from their customers.
In other words, with no say in the matter, if you were a customer of those providers, you could no longer access the Pirate Bay.
Despite what you think about the Pirate Bay or not, it’s the principle of having someone tell you where you can and cannot go.
(On a sidenote, when you sign up to those ISP’s you get what’s called Unlimited internet, meaning the whole internet, yet that site is blocked…hmm).

Although that didn’t fall under ACTA, that is brilliant example of what will happen should it be passed.

But it goes further, through ACTA there is literal policing. You will be watched in what you do.
This is most likely also going to affect things like Twitter, and Facebook.
If you put up a videoclip of you out and about and there is a Coca-Cola poster in the background, well that’s illegal. In fact there has been a case where a woman had uploaded a video of her child playing and it was removed because copyright music could be heard playing in the background.

What can you do?

We can’t just stop it affecting us, you would have to contact your representatives of your government for that to happen.

But what is important is that you should be able to surf the internet without fear of someone snooping.
And it is that which I am going to cover here.

There are two great tools to make you feel more private online.

We have Tor, and VPN.

Tor

Tor is a service that relays your activity throughout it’s network.
What that means in easy terms is as follows:

The usual internet interaction is when perhaps you go to http://www.google.com, your computer will directly connect to the Google server, who in return sends the information requested.
It is a direct connection which obviously exposes your IP and allows you to technically be monitored.

The way Tor behaves is that it uses a network.
Through Tor your connection to Google could first go through someone in Australia, then to America, then Belgium and then the Google server (for example), this would mean the IP that Google receives is the Belgian.
The information is a case of pass the parcel.

The easiest way to use Tor, would be to get this file: https://www.torproject.org/dist/torbrowser/linux/tor-browser-gnu-linux-i686-2.2.35-5-dev-en-US.tar.gz
It doesn’t require installation and it’s a simple case of running start-tor-browser in the extracted folder.
Please note the above is the 32-bit version, the 64bit version can be found here: https://www.torproject.org/dist/torbrowser/linux/tor-browser-gnu-linux-x86_64-2.2.35-5-dev-en-US.tar.gz

VPN

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network.

How this basically works is fairly simple.
You connect to a network somewhere on the internet.
Everything you do goes through that network.
Therefore, the IP that is recorded is that of the network, not your own.

There are many VPN’s to use out there.
Many cost money, and some are free.

One which I use is RaptorVPN located here: http://www.raptorvpn.com/whmcs/
This is free VPN.

If you wish to use RaptorVPN on Ubuntu, this is what you do:

First head over to the site above and make an account, keep note of the email and password you registered with, this is needed in the next step.

After you have validated your email, click on the Network icon on the top bar (the one for WIFI and LAN connections).

Go down to ‘VPN Connections’ and across to ‘Configure VPN’.
You will be presented with a window to configure the VPN, click on the ‘Add’ button and click ‘Create’ when it mentions Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol.

Fill out the following details:

Connection Name = RaptorVPN
Gateway = pptp.spotflux.com
Username = <the email you signed up with>
Password = <Password you signed up with>

Click on the ‘Advanced’ button

In the list of ticked items, untick everything except for ‘MSCHAPv2’

Then tick the box ‘Use Point to Point encryption (MPPE)’ and select 128 bit from the drop down list.

Click OK, then Save.

It’s now set up.
In order to connect to the network, click on the Network icon on the top bar (WIFI and LAN icon), go down to ‘VPN Connections’ and click on ‘RaptorVPN’.
After a few seconds you should get a message saying it connected successfully.
To disconnect and use your normal settings, just go to RaptorVPN in ‘VPN Connections’ and click on it again.

You can see whether you are connected through VPN or not by looking at your Network icon.
If you see a little lock next to it, then you are connected to VPN, if there is no lock, you are not.

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