According to the original report that brought PRISM to public attention, the nine companies that “participate knowingly” with the NSA are Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple.
Zhong’s approach is to replace your workflow with open-source tools that aren’t attached to these companies, since they easily stay well off the government’s radar.
If you want to drop totally off the map, it’ll take quite a commitment. (Are you ready to give up your operating system?)
We’ve gathered our favorites of the apps Zhong mentioned. If you want to see all these and more, check out his site.
Alternative operating systems
Logo for the GNU operating system
It’s nearly certain that you use either Apple’s OS X, Google’s Chrome OS, or Microsoft’s Windows. And guess what? If PRISM works as described, it can access and retrieve system files from your computer.
Alternative web browsers
The Silk Road, a popular Tor destination
Tor is a decentralized way to navigate the web without leaving a trail, but you have to be a slightly tech-proficient to configure it correctly. Grab help from a technologically fluent friend or follow a walkthrough online.
If you’ve chosen to install GNU, you might also use GNUzilla, a GNU-friendly version of the Mozilla software suite (it obviously includes Firefox).
Privacy plugins for your browser
Alternative web search
Major search engines keep track of what you search for. And that’s probably an embarrassment waiting to happen.
Use a search engine like DuckDuckGo to keep your searches to yourself.
Alternative DNS provider
This one’s a pretty specialized tool that most won’t care about, but if your job or hobby has you messing with DNS, you may want to check out the OpenNIC Project.
Anonymous “Darknet” services
Alternative payment systems
Alternative email services
DATE IMPORTED:January 29, 2013French top model Marine Deleeuw reads her emails before going to the Valentino Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2013 fashion show in Paris, January 23, 2013.
Who wants Big Brother maybe or maybe not reading email over your shoulder? Bitmessage is awesome for just that purpose.
You might consider it the Bitcoin of email – it’s decentralized and anonymous, and essential details like the sender’s address can’t be imitated.
Alternative desktop email clients
Ways to encrypt your email
PGP is an awesome way to send secure and encrypted email. There’s no easier way to use it that than with help from a Thunderbird plugin called Enigmail, which operates inside your mail client.
Think of OpenStreetMaps as existing at the intersection of Wikipedia and Google Maps. It’s a crowdsourced mapping system, meaning that people all over the world have collaborated to build a map of the world from scratch.
Alternative cloud storage
Gone will be your days of Dropbox if you want to keep your cloud storage private. SparkleShare is an awesome way to do this instead.
It’s pretty fully-featured, offering a lot of the same services you’d get from major cloud services, like file syncing. It’s even free and open source. This is self-hosted, however, meaning you or a tech-savvy friend will have to set it up on your own.
Alternative social networks
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but if you want to be sure you never get PRISM’s attention, it’s time to say goodbye to Facebook and Twitter. We like GNU Social, a self-hosted and secure network all its own.
Good luck getting your friends to join.
Alternative instant messaging clients
Jitsi lets you videoconference, share desktops, and even just do a plain old voice call over the internet.
Alternative media publishing platforms
The WordPress logo
We use Wordpress for our own personal web publishing ambitions and recommend it without much reservation. If you have webspace and a domain name, you can have your own personal website up and running in about 10 or 15 minutes.
Yes, you can register a free WordPress account and start posting right away on WordPress’s site, but then you’re playing in theirsandbox. The idea in self-hosting it is to cut the cord on as many internet services as possible, opting for those that you can control inside and out.
Alternative document collaboration services
Etherpad is an open-source alternative to software like Google Docs. It successfully handles real-time document collaboration
Alternative web analytics
People running a website with any degree of seriousness will live and die by the traffic analytics. Often times these come from Google Analytics, but Piwik is an open-source analytics engine that offers the same features.