Christmas really is right around the corner. At Tresorit, we're split in two. A small group already has everything ready for the holidays. Gifts wrapped, Christmas trees waiting to be decorated, cakes and sweets prepared. Team last-minute has not been so good. And we guess we're not alone. So let us help with a few privacy-conscious gift ideas that you can secure last-minute without heading to the shops.
Everyone handles their digital lives differently. Whether you want to educate others about privacy or find that tech-savvy friend a safe gift, these ideas below may help you find the perfect present.
Stay safe online
Many people are conscious about the information they share online due to the amount of data that big-tech companies gather about their users. Think about it, Google controls 90% of the search market globally, not to mention emails, and browser data. That's more information than any government information agency has ever had about people. Not that government agencies don't do their fair share of data collection. But, luckily, it's easy to limit the valuable data these entities can collect about you with a few digital tools.
A secure, private VPN
A Virtual Private Network or VPN has many uses. Possibly the most important is that by encrypting your entire network traffic, it can secure your browsing even when you're on public wifi. However, they can also help you hide your web traffic from your ISP, which can collect and sell your data depending on your location. They also hide your real IP address, making it harder for analytics and tracker tools to profile you. VPNs can also help you access geo-blocked content, for example, in countries that suffer from internet censorship.
Some VPNs will also offer additional services, such as DNS filtering to block ads and trackers. Others may even come bundled with other privacy-focused tools, such as secure search, encrypted storage, or end-to-end encrypted email.
End-to-end encrypted emails
True end-to-end encryption, in which files and data only ever leave devices in encrypted form, is finally getting the attention it deserves. We take it rather seriously at Tresorit ourselves. Luckily, an ever-growing number of people encrypt their chats and their files. Yet, somehow, email is missing out on the mainstream focus. So, sign a friend or family member up for an end-to-end encrypted emails service and help turn the world another step away from the advertising-driven income model. While serving the common good, it also helps them keep all personal or business correspondence secure. We're happy to recommend our friends over at ProtonMail or Tutanota. They both offer gift cards as well.
End-to-end encryption for the cloud
Securing your web traffic and emails are great steps to improving security and privacy. Another option is to introduce someone to the benefits of end-to-end encrypted cloud storage. The great thing about zero-knowledge client-side encryption is that no one can access your files but you and the people you share them with. Nothing ever leaves your device unencrypted. Give family and friends the peace of mind of knowing all their Christmas photos are safely stored in the cloud and easily shared with family and no one else. It's cheaper and safer than an external SSD. Luckily, we know the perfect service.
Something more traditional
We get it; sometimes you need a more traditional gift or just have that friend who's already encrypting everything and is ahead of you in the privacy game. Well, then you can always pick something educational. So why not try some of these privacy-focused books below? Check a brick-and-mortar bookstore nearby and pay with cash to stay off the grid or hop online and buy the eBooks to avoid the weight of all those pages. While none of these ideas are endorsements, the below are thought-provoking, interesting reads, freshly published this year. Kindle users can find all the books on Amazon. Others can get them from the Kobo store or ebooks.com.
System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot
Rob Reich, Mehrani Sahami, and Jeremy M. Weinstein, professors at Stanford University, explore "how big tech's obsession with optimization and efficiency has sacrificed fundamental human values." Of course, the three writers go beyond identifying the problem and offer a new way forward.
Industry Unbound: The Inside Story of Privacy, Data, and Corporate Power
This book by Ari Ezra Waldman, based on interviews and business strategy documents, explores how big-tech companies undermine individual privacy rights. The book is a striking account of why privacy laws fail to protect users worldwide and highlights how corporations trick us into divulging our personal information.
Silicon Values: The Future of Free Speech Under Surveillance Capitalism
Remember when the internet was the utopia of hopes and dreams of free speech it promised to be? Neither do we. Jillian York explores how big tech corporations are becoming the new censors to free speech and the results of their manipulation.
Why Privacy Matters
Mark Zuckerberg once said, "the age of privacy is over." We believe that privacy is and should be considered a human right. In this book Neil Richards explores how the fight for privacy is a power struggle that will define our future.
Donate to a cause they care about
Finally, you can consider donating to organizations that are fighting to keep the internet free and protect our right to privacy. For example, in Europe, consider European Digital Rights (EDRi), an association of civil and human rights organizations from across Europe. You can also support noyb – European Center for Digital Rights (as in none of your business) in their fight to have the GDPR enforced properly. In addition, privacy International (PI) has a more global outlook, learn about their work. No matter who you choose to support, your donation will help fund meaningful work to ensure privacy rights.
We hope the handful of ideas above will help you find the perfect gift for your family and friends. We wish everyone celebrating a very Merry Christmas, with warmth, family time, and rest. Stay safe over the holidays, both online and IRL.