- Googling for information or shops can get you on some Orwellian list of people to take a closer look at. It could also serve as evidence if you get caught later on.
- Your ISP sees the sites you’re visiting, including the seedbank website or the bong shop website. Many countries have data retention laws forcing ISPs to keep that data. You don’t want the cops seeing that.
- Paying on the net leaves a financial record, especially if you’re using your credit card, but also if you’re relying on something like PayPal.
- Communicating with vendors is usually something you do via email, which can give you away if you’re going about it carelessly.
- The packaging of marijuana-related products can be quite flamboyant and obvious, which is a risk at the post office.
- The shipping address for a weed-related order can be a good target for a search warrant.
- Growing itself can give you away through sight, sound, smell, and the cops have even weirder means to find you out – heat sensing, for example, or looking at your electricity consumption.
There are ways you can mitigate these risks, and we’ll tell you how. However, the disclaimer here is you’re never out of danger regardless of how smart your operation is, particularly if you like to chat about it.
Your IP is a snitch
Your IP address is your visage on the internet. It’s a basic identifier you can’t do without. Whenever you go to some website, for example, you’re sending requests from your IP address to a server somewhere and receiving data back. Thus, this combination of numbers (or numbers and letters) connects the dots between you and your online activity.
The IP address is unique to the network device, but if you’re connected through wifi, that would be your router – not your PC or phone.
Of course, it’s somewhat more complicated. The IP address is unique to the network device, but if you’re connected through wifi, that would be your router – not your PC or phone. So, for example, if there are more people using the same wifi connection, you can’t tell which person is looking through that selection of high-THC Sativa strains. Regardless, it’s probably too close for comfort.
What you want to do is obscure your real IP address. There are three simple ways you can do this:
Each of these sends your traffic through a server somewhere. The effect is that your ISP sees you connecting to the IP of a VPN server (for example) rather than the real destination.
For the safest, fastest, and most versatile option, VPNs are the best of these three solutions. However, that comes with a caveat – you have to get a good one. Don’t worry, we’ll help you out below.
There are other ways to track what you’re up to on the web. These are less of a concern because law enforcement will typically have less control over big data companies than your ISP. However, we’re aiming for “the government is out to get me” levels of paranoid, so let’s get tweaking.
It’s not wrong to look at the contemporary World Wide Web as a network of websites connected through data funnels operated by various third parties. The most prevalent of these are big data operators like Google and Facebook (whose trackers can be found on most websites). Still, thousands of smaller entities perform the same functions and share information on users through cookie synchronization, browser fingerprinting, and other nefarious tactics.
Currently, it’s no longer a secret that intelligence agencies like the NSA in the US have access to much of the data in Google’s or Facebook’s possession. Granted, that’s an expensive and unreasonable way to hunt lowly stoners, but better safe than sorry, right?
To protect yourself against browser tracking, we recommend:
- Using an anti-tracking browser like Tor
- Making sure you install anti-tracking extensions (Ghostery, uBlock Origin, DuckDuckGo, etc.) on any of the more conventional browsers.
Paying for your psychedelic wares
As previously mentioned, charging cannabis-related products on your credit card or PayPal is not the best decision. Fortunately, many Mary Jane websites are kind enough to provide anonymous payment methods as well.
One such method is cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. This entirely digital, decentralized currency has made secret online payments very simple and secure. However, Bitcoin is not entirely anonymous either, unless you‘re smart about how you use it.
- Make sure you‘re using an anonymity-centric Bitcoin wallet, such as Samourai Wallet. The Bitcoin ledger is open for anyone to see, so there‘s no use if the authorities can put your name to a wallet. Thankfully, the industry has been quick to realize this and offer good solutions.
- Combine Bitcoin with a VPN or Tor. That makes it a whole lot more difficult to find your wallet and pinpoint transactions from that wallet.
- It‘s probably best to buy the currency directly from people, paying in cash. There are plenty of Peer 2 Peer exchanges facilitating such purchases.
People tend to use email accounts across a number of services, making them less secure with each new sign-up
Email has tons of privacy issues related to it. For a start, people tend to use email accounts across a number of services, making them less secure with each new sign-up. As if that’s not enough, mainstream email services such as the much-maligned Gmail have been known to expose you to third parties in addition to serving as big data collectors themselves.
It’s also important to note that unless your mail service offers end-to-end encryption, you stand the risk of your messages being intercepted and exposed – something you’d rather avoid if you’re engaging in activities that aren’t strictly legal.
So before asking why it’s taking your feminized Bubblegummer seeds so long to arrive (your guerilla grow is time-sensitive!), be sure to get an account with one of the truly secure email providers like Tutanota or Protonmail. Even if you’re not Public Enemy No.1, spliffs taste better when you’re calm.