These two record logs about website traffic to provide statistics helping me to understand how you use rc-scene.com and what should be improved in terms of usability. The statistics are recorded anonymously, I do not get to see any personal data.
About Embedded content
The welcome page and the news page have a Twitter (another US based company) feed embedded. Embedded content (be it Twitter, YouTube or whoever) might also track and collect information about you (IP-address etc.). AUTOMATTIC are constantly improving WordPress and we, who have an eye on this private weblog, unfortunately cannot keep track of all content providers possible to be embedded. To cover the two most common resources that this Site embeds content from, please have a look at the Privacy Policies of Twitter and YouTube (who are part of Alphabet / Google) below.
On the bottom of this page, you additionally find ideas and links to for on how to prevent tracking or how to hide your IP.
Online tracking: Try to stay anonymous!
A cookie is a small file sent to your browser by a website you visit. This file is being stored on your computer an allows the website to recognize you when you visit it again – even if you have not logged in again. Because the website can read and edit this cookie file stored on your computer. Even if it is less convenient: Log out each time you leave a website and log in to a website only when necessary. This does apply to rc-scene.com as well, since Google Analytics are integrated into the website code.
Google can not know who you are, the statistics they collect cannot be linked to you – unless you are registered and logged in with any Google services (like e.g. Gmail, YouTube, Google Search, Google Docs etc.).
Therefore, always log out of all Google services, if you are not currently using one of their services like Gmail, which obviously requires a login. If you stay logged in with Google, the data they collect are not anonymous anymore. While logged in with Google, they log ALL your search requests, the videos you visited or commented on YouTube and the websites you visit. and are able to link the data collected to your personal data as name, phone and email address. They create user profiles which they also sell to third parties.
Why is this important?
Imagine you use Google for searching for drugs or Research Chemicals while being logged in with Google.
How do I know If I am currently signed in with Google: When you see your profile pic or name on the top right of the browser window. There you can log out, by the way.
Now imagine you are logged in with Google, then it could happen that Google will sell your internet behavior to insurance companies or possible future employers. How does that make you feel?
Please find details on how Automattic, Google (including YouTube) and Twitter are processing your data:
- Twitter Privacy Center
Fighting SPAM with Askimet
This website uses Akismet to reduce spam. This means that your comments will be sent to an Askimet server and there be analyzed by a computer. Askimet is owned by Automattic (WordPress.com) and located in the USA. They will not actually read your comment, but a computer will compare your comment to comments made on 3 million other websites and identify it as spam if it was posted like a hundred times within a single day.
This only applies to comments made below pages and blog posts, but not to messages sent through the contact form or your contributions to the forum.
So should I avoid visiting rc-scene.com?
Don’t be silly 😉
I use no additional trackers besides from Automattic and Google Analytics. I am opted out of any monetizing possibilities, so there will be no advertisements on rc-scene.com, meaning no additional trackers or other services that could record your visits on rc-scene.com.
This is a non-commercial journalistic project. There are no ads or affiliate links on rc-scene.com, neither am I affiliated with anyone I write about or share links to. Regarding statistics and traffic logs, I only receive anonymized data. So rest assured that I will not have access to your personal data and even more so that I will not even share anonymous statistics with anyone.
If you publish a comment, your comment will be stored in a database (this is how websites work, the information must be stored somewhere) but I will never ever analyze that data or even share it with third parties. I don’t care about your personal data, all I want is to improve website usability by the means of statistics offered by Google Analytics and traffic logs provided by Automattic. I collect as little data as possible but I still decided to go with Google Analytics because I want rc-scene.com to become better.
RC-Scene.com is hosted by Automattic (WordPress.com) in the USA, which might be interesting to some visitors from the European Union.
So much for my Privacy Disclaimer.
Before you leave, there are a few more recommendations I would like to share with you:
Use an Ad-Blocker and maybe even more advanced web browser extensions (as well as a VPN-service if you are from the US)
- uBlock Origin – available for MS Edge, the new MS Edge Chromium, Safari, Opera and Chrome. Is also available for mobile phones. It uses regularly updated blocking lists. Do have a look into the extension’s settings, you can manage what you want to block and what to allow.
- EFF Privacy Badger – available for MS Edge, the new MS Edge Chromium, Opera, Chrome and Firefox mobile on Android devices. Use it together with uBlock Origin. While uBlock depends on lists, Privacy Badger counts the trackers that follow you through the web: If a tracker is recognized on three or more websites you visited, that tracker will be blocked automatically. uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger are a perfect match!
For more advanced users, if not so say: nerds
- Make yourself familiar with HTML5 (Canvas) Fingerprinting. This website https://browserleaks.com/canvas#how-does-it-work is a good start to understand what it does and that it is very effective and thus a real threat to your online privacy. This website also provides various tests to find out if your computer’s fingerprint is unique and also if the browser extensions you might want to install to fake your unique fingerprint actually work.
Believe it or not, a computer’s properties are as unique as a fingerprint. There might be only two on the planet that are identical.
There are already a couple of browser extensions available faking your (Canvas) fingerprint, but so far I have not found that one extension that would cover all fingerprinting methods, unfortunately.
Personally, in Firefox, I have installed and enabled a couple of fingerprinting extensions of which each blocks a certain fingerprinting method, while in Chrome and in Edge I only use two fingerprinting extensions of which one covers many fingerprinting methods.
Please make sure to not use fingerprinting extensions that perform the same defending tasks at the same time because this will immensely slow down your web browser.
As far as I understand, a browser extension that fakes your fingerprint makes a lot more sense than one that blocks fingerprinting completely. Maybe have a look at these two:
Browser Plugs Fingerprint Privacy Firewall
Canvas Blocker (Fingerprint Protect)
- For visitors from the USA, China and North Korea I strongly advise using a VPN-Service. In case you didn’t know, Donald Trump signed a bill that allows your Internet Service Provider to collect statistics about your internet surfing habits and they are even allowed to sell these data (!!!). These data are in no way anonymous, your ISP knows your name, your address, your bank account etc. While big cable companies rejected this offer to make money out of recording and selling your data, they are still allowed to do so and some ISPs might record the websites you visit and sell them together with your name and address to anyone.
You might remember the Facebook/Instagram/WhatsApp data scandal? Mark Zuckerberg sold your data to a company that uses military-grade intelligence to analyze your internet behaviour and to provide you with personalized ads. That the UK left the European Union was because this company was hired to display you customized ads with lies about the European Union. To give an example: Facebook knows that you like cats. Either because you write about your cat or because you post or like cat photos. So Cambridge Analytica and Facebook would show you an ad that says that the European Union plans to disallow keeping cats. A lie, but 99% of people do not fact-check anything they read. Great Britain had no law that would forbid foreign countries or companies to influence elections, no one saw that coming. God knows who paid for these ads, for this campaign against the European Union. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook%E2%80%93Cambridge_Analytica_data_scandal
Back to VPNs: Please make sure to NEVER use any free VPN-Service, because these collect and sell your data. If multiple tracking companies combine the data they collected about you, they might know you better than your significant other. An example for a free VPN (which is actually a proxy) would be the VPN option that is implemented in the Opera browser. Opera was developed in Norway but bought by a Chinese company. They definitely make money out of recording your internet habits. If something is for free, then most probably YOU are the product. Think about it.
- A VPN-service will encrypt your network traffic, so your Internet Service Provider cannot see which websites you visit. NordVPN and Mullvad are good options for lower budget plans while Perfect Privacy, Proton VPN and ExpressVPN are a bit more expensive and might provide more features.
These VPN providers are commonly considered to be trustworthy and reliable:
expressvpn.com/blog/pwc-audits-expressvpn-servers-to-confirm-essential-privacy-protections (turned out to be slow in our test)
While I have no evidence to argue it, I nonetheless want to mention that I would only trust Mullvad, NordVPN and Perfect Privacy. Forget the rest. Also, stick with OpenVPN. The Wireguard protocol might seem and is on paper superior to any other protocol, but it is still in development and could have bugs. OpenVPN has been around for many years and was constantly bugfixed. Mullvad would automatically select OpenVPN, NordVPN, however, invested millions in Wireguard servers and would automatically select this protocol. They call it “NordLynx”, by the way, but it is Wireguard.
OpenVPN allows to select either TCP or UDP. UDP is faster, but only because it has no quality assurance. If a data packet gets lost on its way, UDP will not try to ask for that packet again. TCP does. To provide an example: If you call someone over Skype, TCP will transport 100% of information, UDP would leave out words or sentences.
VPNs perform best with the server that is closest to you. If you live in New York, connect to a server in New York. Switching countries is only interesting if you want to bypass geo-blocking: Europeans would connect to US based VPN servers to for watching Netflix, since Netflix USA offers a lot more content than e.g. Netflix Germany.
Please do never use free browser extensions that claim to be a VPN! These will log and analyze your data for marketing purposes!
To test if your VPN works as it should, you could use services like these.
If whoer tells you your VPN was leaking DNS traces, don’t blindly trust them, they want you to buy their own product. Check yourself! If you connect to e.g. a VPN in the Netherlands and all IPs tested show the Dutch IP address, you are fine.
Just to be on the safe side, I would manually disable IPv6 in the computer’s network settings (Ethernet adapter). Mullvad can route IPv6, NordVPN does not support IPv6 but successfully blocks it. Other apps might fail here.
Do I need a VPN? Only if you need to protect your real IP because you are a target for hackers or if your ISP tracks your internet behaviour. Keep in mind that emails you send also disclose your IP. Another question is: Do you rather trust your ISP or a VPN service? Mullvad and NordVPN have themselves independently audited to prove that they do not store any personal data. In case your ISP provides you with a fixed IP that never changes, I strongly suggest using a VPN. The average case is being provided a dynamic IP though, meaning you would receive a different IP address every time you connect or after 48 hours if you leave your modem on 24/7.
One more thing: While Mullvad is based in Sweden which is part of the 14-eyes-spying-alliance initiated by the USA, the Swedish government has passed a bill that assures that Swedish VPN providers cannot be forced to share any data with Law Enforcement. NordVPN is registered in Panama, they do not even respond to requests issued by LE. Panama has not signed any agreement to cooperate with other countries and has itself no data retention laws. ExpressVPN would need to cooperate with police but refuses to and uses RAM disks for their servers. When police in Turkey once got angry and seized one of their servers, they could not find any data on the server. RAM means that once unplugged from electricity, all data are gone.
You might like to have a look on https://www.privacytools.io (USA), https://tarnkappe.info (Germany), and https://restoreprivacy.com (USA). Keep in mind that these sites would sometimes recommend apps in exchange for money. To give an example: Surfshark VPN is one of the worst apps ever. It is so badly done, you never know if you change a setting or if the setting remains unchanged and only the UI would indicate it was changed. This company spends a lot of money on affiliate links and marketing. You will therefore find it in almost every VPN comparison and it would always be recommended. Fuck that shit, Surfshark does not work. You cannot even be sure if you are connected to a VPN server. The app would display many things, but if you test them, you will find out this software is trash. So, don’t believe those sites, but use them to get a feeling for how things work and what is possible, why Amazon recognizes you even if you are not logged in and how you can prevent them from spying on you.
Mullvad, on the other hand, does not spend a single cent for marketing. They instead donate to privacy related projects. Although ignored by many tech sites, Mullvad is the fastest and most stable built VPN app I am aware of. Mullvad is bigger than one might think: They provide the infrastructure for the Mozilla Firefox VPN.
Personally, I disagree with many of privacytools’ recommendations, but their website is an interesting read and lists e.g. secure tools for cloud-services, VPNs, and provides tips on how to configure your web browser, etc. Don’t believe everything they believe in, but it might be good to understand how to fight being spied on by your government and Ad-trackers. Their problem is, they unfortunately do do not seem to understand that only the European Union, Switzerland and Iceland may be able to secure your privacy. Companies with offices in the USA usually act according to a White Paper issued by the CIA, which probably is the reason for ProtonMail to not provide stronger keys and to not update to latest PGP standards, although they are researching and further developing them. If you dig deeper, you will find out, that there are only three civilized countries on this planet that do not spy on their citizens: Iceland, The Czech Republic and Austria. The latter allows spying on citizens if they are suspected to be terrorists, murderers, blackmailers etc. RC SCENE emails are hosted in one of these countries, so rest assured that our email conversations are not being tracked. At least on our side. The country you live in might track your emails.
PS: Surfing the web with your smartphone? No.
PPS: Using a Google Android phone? NO!
— Last updated: January 22, 2021