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Passive surveillance

Passive surveillance definition

Passive surveillance is a kind of surveillance that is based on constant information gathering rather than purposefully targeted surveillance. Passive surveillance processes involve gathering a large amount of (often neutral) information, like a company collecting people’s phone records and internet data. A lot of services people use daily to gather information about their users: how they act, how long they use the service, or what features they prefer. Companies use this information to understand their client base, improve their products and services, or find new ways to make or save money.

How to minimize passive surveillance

It is impossible to completely avoid surveillance and make yourself 100% anonymous. But you can take various steps to minimize your digital footprint and protect your privacy.

  • Control what information you share. Don’t overshare on social media, but also make sure to adjust privacy settings on every account and disable everything you don’t need (like strangers being able to message you).
  • Don’t sign up for services you don’t absolutely need. Where possible, use a separate email account that’s in no way connected to your main one.
  • If you can, avoid accepting cookies, especially on websites you only plan to visit once.
  • Use third-party tracker blockers, like NordVPN’s Threat Protection Pro. It will prevent tracker cookies from gathering data about your browsing habits.