It is completely excusable if you think to yourself that Amazon knowing your order history and Facebook knowing all your friends is “ok”.  But consider the reality (“Why Privacy”) that the government is monitoring nearly everything you do on any network you use all the time. And, if they happen to miss something, it is the law (Congressional Acts) that they can simply request the missing information from any networked service you use. Add to that the fact that it is now the law that every connection point to a network (Cable, Phone, Cell) can sell your activity history to the highest bidder and we are talking about something altogether different. So let’s talk about how you can take action to protect your privacy in a reasonable and effective way by using the AMENDMENT 1.

First of all, don’t panic. Laws change. Politicians change. Times change. Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. In the meantime, write this down: there is only 1 source of information about you other than what you volunteer and it is your assigned Internet Protocol Address (“IP Address”).  An IP Address is the "phone number" every device that connects to the Internet is assigned so data can be routed effectively. That address is assigned by your Internet Service Provider - that’s right, your Cable Company, Telephone Company, or Cell Phone company.  Most of us have at least two providers - one for our home entertainment like our Xbox, Apple TV, Tablets, and Desktop Computer - and another for our phone (cellular or land-based). These are assigned an IP Address that attaches to you and where you are - they’ve got to send the bill somewhere, right? And that’s it. That IP Address is tied to your Home Billing address so reliably that there are now databases that correlate the two and they are available to anyone.

If you Don’t know your IP Address you should because Everyone Else does and you can see for yourself by going here:  Now Copy that (IP Address) number and paste it into this address:  (Don’t be afraid to zoom in, it’s a sobering effect). You’ll realize every time you connect it is possible to see where you are in the real world - try checking at work, at the library, the cafe, your school, the hotel...

Every place you visit, every datacenter you traverse, every network you bridge, every email you send, every video you stream, every Facetime or Hangout or Skype you make, every website you visit, every app you open, every “Internet of Things” device you connect… they all have your IP Address stamped on them. That is before you ever log in, create a user account, or supply your credit card. 

Here's a practical example. We use Tumblr for social media and like to post and share things we think are cool and relevant. No one has ever "told Tumblr" where we are located.  Yet we still see things like this advertisement (no one here is looking for singles either, BTW).

Tumblr knows your location


How does Tumblr know what location to use for advertising? By looking at the IP Address used most frequently to access their tools and resources (you may notice that screen cap is the app on iOS). Here is the proof sitting right in my account details:


One more thing to consider: so far we are just talking about your starting point - your home location. When you pick up the phone or open an app or open a webpage the other half of the equation is where you are going. Not only does your destination know who you are but your ISP and any partner networks they use know who you are and where you are going. Keep in mind that even if you use secure webpages Secure HTTPS Web Page  everyone can still see where you are going and how long you are there and how often you visit. This is why the government is requesting IP Addresses in the case of protesters. It is why “recording companies” request information from ISPs in copyright infringement. This is how autocratic regimes monitor (and restrict) where their citizens go.

So take the time to control who gets to know where you are going and where you live and work. When you use AMENDMENT 1 you disguise your IP Address from everyone other than your ISP (who assigns your IP Address in the first place). However, all your ISP will see is that your trail disappeared right after accessing the Internet. As for your destination on the Internet, all they see is that someone connected from a random IP Address somewhere in the world. 

Tor on iOS using the AMENDMENT 1

Of course, that IP Address belongs to someone, somewhere but the critical point is that it doesn’t belong to you. Not only does this protect your privacy but it simultaneously throws doubt on the validity of known connections.  Did they really come from the physical address associated with the IP Address or did it come from somewhere else in the Tor network? What other IP Addresses are routing anonymous traffic? How reliable is the data we think we have? What is even better is that now you can snicker to yourself when you see ads like this:

Tumblr Ads confused by Tor