Re: VPN everywhere
Free VPNs and proxies are a waste of time, and all too often they're provided free by foreign governments or criminal agencies who use them to intercept your credentials, track your site visits and other nefarious purposes.
I use VyprVPN, which costs $19.95 AU per month, and gives me fast, reliable VPN service in a choice of 6 countries - USA, UK, Netherlands, Germany, France and Hong Kong. Their system uses OpenVPN, a FOSS VPN client that is easy to set up and use, and Goldenfrog (the providers of VyprVPN) also provide automated set up for the client, so all you do is download and install it, put in the username and password you signed up with, select a country you want to appear to be in, and off you go. Once it's running, all your net applications - browser, email, bittorrent, whatever - are automatically routed through the VPN.
It's not only useful for preventing data retention, my major use for it is circumventing geolocation lockouts. Can't watch Hulu TV because I'm in Australia? No problem - just set the VPN to America and I can watch all I want. BBC iPlayer? Set it to UK. Throw off the MAFIAA? Hong Kong.
I used to only use it for the above, but because of this law, I now leave the VPN on all the time - my computers boot with it on. The only records my ISP will have of me is a constant running encrypted connection to other countries.
A few caveats with using VPNs with secure sites, however - be careful if you log into your bank, or games like World of Warcraft (or systems like Steam), or any porn sites you may be a member of. If you try to log in to your bank, and you've normally done this from Australia, suddenly appearing to be from Hong Kong or America could cause them to raise questions. Likewise WoW gets very shitty if you appear to be outside your native country when you log in.
And porn sites use IP location to prevent account sharing - I've had accounts cancelled and my credit card blocked by a couple of such sites because I accidentally logged in with the VPN set to a different country than the one I signed up from - they thought I'd shared the account. So if you're going to sign up to such sites, do so with the VPN on and make sure it's always set to the same country whenever you log into that site. (I tend to sign up to porn sites from the France VPN given their laissez-faire attitude to sex!)
That's about all you need to be aware of, really. It's not rocket science. VyprVPN is very easy to set up and once it's going, it's completely transparent. And that lovely "fuck your geolocation" feeling you get when you download content from a region-locked site that normally blocks your country is worth every cent by itself!