It’s hard to imagine a life where you’re not online. You can shop online and stay informed online. Then of course, social media platforms take up a lot of our time, too. Even though it feels like all of this online time is completely free, it’s not. And the price we pay for it is something very precious: our privacy. 

You might think that online companies know about you, but only the information you give them. But it goes much deeper than that. While your personal data, including name, date of birth, social security number and location are important pieces of information, companies want something a bit more personal.

Online companies are very interested in tracking your online behavior so they can develop an eerily accurate profile of you – both psychological and physiological. And this is all possible thanks to the advancements in Artificial Intelligence.

What sort of online behavior do companies track? It can go for everything from the websites you visit, your search history, your online purchases, and so much more.

But there is one way you can protect your privacy online and it’s with something called virtual private networks, or VPNs.

Every device that you use to get online has it’s own unique address, called the IP address. Every site you visit can see your IP address. So, even if you’re very private and hide your data, sites can still identify you thanks to your IP address.

And that’s where VPNs can be helpful. While you can never delete or change your device’s IP address, “you can pretend you have a different IP address”, according to web developer, Iulian Gulea.

But what exactly is a VPN?

According to Wikipedia, “A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network.”

So, if you’d like to keep you and your data safe, consider using a VPN for all your online time. It can prevent online companies from tracking your online behavior, and learning more about you than you’re comfortable with.

Tomorrow, thousands are expected to come together throughout the US in the first-ever March For Our Lives. This march was organized at a rapid speed, thanks to the ferocity of school shooting survivors from Parkland, Florida. Their hashtag? #NEVERAGAIN. The coverline for Time Magazine? ENOUGH. It’s safe to say these young adults are the ones leading the gun control conversation. And tomorrow’s March For Our Lives is just the beginning. 

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