In a recent post on diablog, you read a bit about censorship online. In a comment Pete insisted on learning how to circumvent it. So here we go.
As a prelude, sending regular emails is like sending postcards, everyone involved in the delivery can read them. And whenever you visit a website, you are revealing your IP address, which one could consider similar to dropping your business card every 10 yards on each and every walk you take. Along with a list of all places you have visited before.
If you want to get scared about what can be found out about you - or any person online - you should have a look at software like Maltego. It is available online and with a few clicks and a few hours of time, you can find out almost anything about anyone.
So, how do you protect your privacy online?
Regarding email, you should encrypt it, for example with PGP Pretty Good Privacy or other software solutions. The minimum you can do is to encrypt sensitive communication with people you write with often. Think of your lawyers, accountants, doctors, etc.
The easiest way to get some privacy when browsing is to use a proxy. But free proxies are rather unreliable, often slow and most importantly, insecure. If you use a paid proxy service, you would have to trust your provider.
Or you could consider using something like Tor. The downside of Tor is speed. Your browsing will be a very slow experience. A variant of Tor is used for example by WikiLeaks and a few people are working on both, WikiLeaks and Tor.
Alternatively, you can use a Virtual Private Network VPN. There speed is not an issue, but you have to trust your VPN service provider, similar to when using a proxy.
Or you go completely anonymous by using I2P.
If you want to know more, let me hear it in the comments.
Stay safe and sane,