An article from Activist Post has gone demi viral. It lists the top ten ways the ever-present collectivist ‘we’ are being tracked.
It has some good points in it, but as usual there are two sides to every story, and that article only gives one side; the side of the omnipotent, ill defined ‘Big Brother’ abusing the little people.
Here is the other side; how you can avoid being tracked, the reality of this ‘tracking’ and who is truly responsible for these abuses.
GPS — Global positioning chips are now appearing in everything from U.S. passports, cell phones, to cars. More common uses include tracking employees, and for all forms of private investigation. Apple recently announced they are collecting the precise location of iPhone users via GPS for public viewing in addition to spying on users in other ways.
First of all, RFID is not the same as GPS. The article linked from this section, from 2005, says only that the US is requiring RFID in passports. The fact of the matter is that ‘your’ passport (many countries assert that the passport remains the property of the issuing government, even after you pay for it to be issued to you), if it has an RFID chip in it, and if that chip is broken, is still acceptable, world-wide, as a travel document. The danger from an RFID passport is that people can copy its contents (your picture and personal details) without touching the passport. You can stop this by hammering your passport as soon as it is issued to you. Of course, as you travel, the secondary ways of registering your entry and exit from a country kick in. But the RFID part can be nullified. You CAN take control of that aspect.
Now for the ‘GPS’ that GSM phones use. Some phones have a true GPS chip in them that uses the Global Positioning System. iPhones like the iPhone 3 and iPhone 4 have it, the iPhone 2G does not. The iPhone 2G and phones that do not have a GPS chip in them use triangulation, or Mobile Phone Locating. In either case, if you do not want anyone to know where you are, you can either refrain from using mobile phones or turn the phone off when you are not using it. Knowing your location is a trade off for the utility of having a mobile phone. The choice is yours wether or not you accept this trade off.
Internet — Internet browsers are recording your every move forming detailed cookies on your activities. The NSA has been exposed as having cookies on their site that don’t expire until 2035. Major search engines know where you surfed last summer, and online purchases are databased, supposedly for advertising and customer service uses. IP addresses are collected and even made public. Controversial websites can be flagged internally by government sites, as well as re-routing all traffic to block sites the government wants to censor. It has now been fully admitted that social networks provide NO privacy to users, while technologies for real-time social network monitoring are already being used. The Cybersecurity Act attempts to legalize the collection and exploitation of your personal information. Apple’s iPhone also has browsing data recorded and stored. All of this despite the overwhelming opposition to cybersurveillance by citizens.
Internet browsers can be set to not “record your every move”. They do not “form” cookies. A cookie is a file containing information placed by websites on your computer. You can set your browser to reject all cookies, and all modern browsers have this ability. If you do not want the NSA to put cookies on your computer, then do not visit websites owned by the NSA, or do so from a computer that is not your own. Even if you do visit a website owned by the NSA, and they set a cookie with an expiry date of 2035, you can delete it from your computer. The same goes for major search engines. If you do not want your IP address to be recorded by a website, use a proxy service to change your IP before you surf to sites that you do not trust.
If you have concerns about browser security, you should not, under any circumstances, use Internet Explorer from Microsoft. Use instead, either Firefox or Google Chrome. Both of these browsers are free, it is easy to migrate to them, and so you have no excuse whatsoever not to use them. Google Chrome even has an ‘incognito’ mode, which:
For times when you want to browse in stealth mode, for example, to plan surprises like gifts or birthdays, Google Chrome offers the incognito browsing mode. Here’s how the incognito mode works:
- Webpages that you open and files downloaded while you are incognito aren’t recorded in your browsing and download histories.
- All new cookies are deleted after you close all incognito windows that you’ve opened.
Changes made to your Google Chrome bookmarks and general settings while in incognito mode are always saved.
And since these browsers are Open Source, they are less likely to be compromised by your enemies to spy on you with built in back doors.
Controversial websites can be flagged internally by government sites, as well as re-routing all traffic to block sites the government wants to censor.
Governments can flag sites all they like. This has no effect on you being tracked. Even China cannot block sites that it wants to censor, so this is simply not the case, and once again, has nothing to do with tracking you.
You should not use social networking sites in a way that will compromise your security. Do not post photos of yourself, for example. Photos of you and your friends can will be scanned with facial recognition software, putting names to faces for anyone who has the money to pay the social networking provider for access to your network of friends. Scrips erint.
UPDATE: Told you so: Billionaire entrepreneur Marc Cuban has just invested in a facial recognition startup that has the explicit aim of harvesting identified, recognised and tagged faces of users from Facebook to create an application that will be able to identify you via cameras owned by the company that are placed in stores, in hotels, and on billboards. Just like these scenes from Minority Report.
UPDATE NUMBER 2
Details of 100m Facebook users collected and published: Personal details of 100m Facebook users have been collected and published on the net by a security consultant.
Ron Bowes used a piece of code to scan Facebook profiles, collecting data not hidden by the user’s privacy settings.
The list, which has been shared as a downloadable file, contains the URL of every searchable Facebook user’s profile, their name and unique ID.
Mr Bowes said he published the data to highlight privacy issues, but Facebook said it was already public information.
The file has spread rapidly across the net.
On the Pirate Bay, the world’s biggest file-sharing website, the list was being distributed and downloaded by more than 1,000 users.
One user, going by the name of lusifer69, described the list as “awesome and a little terrifying”.
Download the file of 100,000,000 Facebook users for yourself Even if you were smart enough to set your Facebook profile to private, your friends who were not so smart have exposed your details simply by being ‘friends’ with you.
Once again, the iPhone’s ability to store a list of the sites you have visited is something that you can erase. You cannot erase the GSM internet access providers list of sites you have visited of course. If you volunteer to use these services, that is the price you have to pay. Your duty is to know this, understand that you have a choice, and then to make an informed choice.
RFID — Forget your credit cards which are meticulously tracked, or the membership cards for things so insignificant as movie rentals which require your SSN. Everyone has Costco, CVS, grocery-chain cards, and a wallet or purse full of many more. RFID “proximity cards” take tracking to a new level in uses ranging from loyalty cards, student ID, physical access, and computer network access. Latest developments include an RFID powder developed by Hitachi, for which the multitude of uses are endless — perhaps including tracking hard currency so we can’t even keep cash undetected. (Also see microchips below).
Credit cards are a voluntary service provided by private companies. No one would use them if the credit card companies did not keep a list of all the money you had spent on them. These lists are an essential part of the credit card service. What the companies do with that list, above and beyond keeping it for the purposes of accounting is another matter entirely of course, but the core fact remains that you are not obliged to use a credit card and so any tracking that emerges from it is something you are entering into voluntarily.
If you have an SSN (and many people do not) it is up to you to refuse to divulge it to anyone. If you believe that your privacy is worth less than the value of a movie rental, then that decision is yours, and you cannot blame anyone but yourself if your SSN and its associated details appears in databases where it should not.
It is not factually correct to say that, “Everyone has Costco, CVS, grocery-chain cards, and a wallet or purse full of many more”. Many people do not carry these cards, precisely because they are aware of the privacy implications. Those people who have chosen to carry those cards do so because they are getting a financial benefit from them. They have traded their privacy for a small amount of money or convenience. They may not have made an informed choice, but nevertheless, they have voluntarily entered into an agreement with a private company. If you do not want people to know what you are spending your money on, you must choose not to carry these cards.
Student ID is once again, a voluntary contract between the student and an educational institution. Physical access (I assume, in the workplace) is once again, part of the terms of a contract between you and your employer. Neither of these is compulsory.
RFID powder embedded in currency is an entirely bad thing. Sound money is the private property of the rightful owner of it, and banknotes that are the property of the state, even though you have earned that money, are illegitimate on their face. This is quite apart from the fact that Fiat Currencies are entirely counterfeit and inherently immoral.
If you do not want to have your money tracked, you should first understand what money is, buy gold to store your savings and support all efforts to remove the power to create money out of the hands of the state, by rejecting paper money. ‘We’ can keep cash undetected. Once again, there are ways to stop the state and its agents from tracking you; you simply have to understand what it is you are doing and then stop doing what is harmful to you.
Traffic cameras — License plate recognition has been used to remotely automate duties of the traffic police in the United States, but have been proven to have dual use in England such as to mark activists under the Terrorism Act. Perhaps the most common use will be to raise money and shore up budget deficits via traffic violations, but uses may descend to such “Big Brother” tactics as monitors telling pedestrians not to litter as talking cameras already do in the UK.
Computer cameras and microphones — The fact that laptops — contributed by taxpayers — spied on public school children (at home) is outrageous. Years ago Google began officially to use computer “audio fingerprinting” for advertising uses. They have admitted to working with the NSA, the premier surveillance network in the world. Private communications companies already have been exposed routing communications to the NSA. Now, keyword tools — typed and spoken — link to the global security matrix.
Public sound surveillance — This technology has come a long way from only being able to detect gunshots in public areas, to now listening in to whispers for dangerous “keywords.” This technology has been launched in Europe to “monitor conversations” to detect “verbal aggression” in public places. Sound Intelligence is the manufacturer of technology to analyze speech, and their website touts how it can easily be integrated into other systems.
Now we come to an important distinction that must be made when we think about theses systems. It is the distinction between the state and the private.
The things that you allow the state to do to you in its capacity as the holder of a monopoly on violence are completely different to your voluntarily entering into contracts with private companies.
If you do not understand this distinction, then you do not understand the proper role of government and your relationship to it. You can be confused by the simple distinction between the problem of the state knowing everything about your shopping habits, and the fact that your supermarket loyalty card firm knows all of your shopping habits through your voluntary interaction with it.
Articles like this emerge from a deeply seated need and thirst its author feels for freedom. You cannot even begin to identify, address, quench and fulfil the true nature and source of this ache unless you have all your definitions and distinctions in order.
Now to continue….
ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) is an affront to all decent people, and in the UK there are moves afoot to regulate it. This is a matter that civil disobedience would be well suited to. There are not enough police in any country to prevent an outbreak of mass disobedience, and in the meantime, there are counter measures you can take to prevent your car from being caught by these cameras.
It must be said also, that if you are caught by one of these systems, you have the option of simply not paying whatever fine they write down on paper and post to you. Every day in London, which is ringed by a ‘Congestion Charge Zone’, many tens of thousands of people simply refuse to pay without any consequence whatsoever. Diplomats do not pay of course, but here I am talking about ‘ordinary’ people who simply ignore the fines and notices that are sent to them. This story is kept out of the news because it is well understood that if everyone knew that a significant number of people were not paying, the system would collapse. And by system, I mean the fact that out of every eight pounds charged to drivers, only three pounds is sent to the state. The London Congestion Charge is nothing more than a racket designed to fleece drivers, and a pretext to give police real time access to the details of every car entering central London.
ANPR is a problem that goes to the root of how countries are run and private property. This is something you need to think carefully about as you spray ‘your’ number plate.
The same is true for CCTV cameras. The new government in the UK is making sounds that it wants to roll back this nightmare, but the same general attributes apply; these cameras do not prevent crime of any kind and are an affront to all decent people. Just how corrosive these cameras are is made clear when you step off of a plane into a country where there is no CCTV. The presence of cameras everywhere is oppressive, dehumanising and completely at odds with a free country.
The fact that laptops — contributed by taxpayers — spied on public school children (at home) is outrageous.
What is outrageous in this case is that people have had money stolen from them to provide laptops to other people. If you accept a stolen laptop in this way, with all the conditions attached to it, then you have only yourself to blame, for entering into an immoral contract with the state.
You are not obliged to use Google’s services. If they track you, it is because you consent to being tracked by them.
Your traffic going through NSA scanners is a part of how the internet works. If you do not want anyone to read your traffic, then you are at liberty to encrypt your connection and communications, using any of the many free tools that are readily available. You will then have the benefit of the internet without the surveillance of the content of your communications.
There is no excuse for not encrypting your communications, and it is unacceptable for thinking people to continually complain about email privacy when easy to use and unbreakable military grade tools are available to use for free.
Public sound surveillance, like CCTV is an immoral affront, and all instances of it should be met with whatever civil disobedience is required to have it permanently stopped.
Biometrics — The most popular biometric authentication scheme employed for the last few years has been Iris Recognition. The main applications are entry control, ATMs and Government programs. Recently, network companies and governments have utilized biometric authentication including fingerprint analysis, iris recognition, voice recognition, or combinations of these for use in National identification cards.
Iris scanning for entry control is done by employers. You should not enter into contracts with employers who use these systems. If a bank requires your fingerprint to provide services to you, then you should close your account if they refuse to accept your custom on terms that are satisfactory to you. Government programmes that involve compulsory fingerprinting should be met by civil disobedience and absolute refusal. As for National Identification cards, readers of this blog know our record in this regard.
DNA — Blood from babies has been taken for all people under the age of 38. In England, DNA was sent to secret databases from routine heel prick tests. Several reports have revealed covert Pentagon databases of DNA for “terrorists” and now DNA from all American citizens is databased. Digital DNA is now being used as well to combat hackers.
Microchips — Microsoft’s HealthVault and VeriMed partnership is to create RFID implantable microchips. Microchips for tracking our precious pets is becoming commonplace and serves to condition us to accept putting them in our children in the future. The FDA has already approved this technology for humans and is marketing it as a medical miracle, again for our safety.
The blood taken in the ‘heel prick tests’ the author is talking about is for the Guthrie Test . What they do not tell you when this test is done upon the birth of your baby is that these blots of blood on paper cards are then used for purposes other than the single purpose of testing for diseases. They are stored in ‘DNA Banks’ for who knows what uses.
If you want to avoid having your child’s DNA profile extracted, stored and used, then you need to plan ahead and have a home birth. Under the care of private midwives, you have complete control over what happens to your child. You can refuse all vaccinations, the Guthrie test, absurd silver nitrate drops in the eyes, vitamin K injections, ridiculous ‘clicky hips’ tests and every other, routine, mechanised, offensive, unnecessary, reflexively and thoughtlessly administered medical industrial complex procedure.
Digital DNA is something that has nothing to do with biology, and it should not be conflated with human DNA and the implications of its misuse.
The same goes for implantable RFID chips; this should not appear with and has nothing to do with DNA, but is in fact related to passports.
This is not nitpicking. It is crucially important, as the pace of innovation accelerates, that anyone with any concern for their privacy be able to distinguish between different entities and disciplines properly. If you do not know the difference between “Digital DNA” and the double helix that can be used to identify you, then you are less likely to be able to understand what is meant when someone claims that when you touch a keyboard in an internet cafe, your DNA can be used to identify you.
Facial recognition — Anonymity in public is over. Admittedly used at Obama’s campaign events, sporting events, and most recently at the G8/G20 protests in Canada. This technology is also harvesting data from Facebook images and surely will be tied into the street “traffic” cameras.
All of this is leading to Predictive Behavior Technology — It is not enough to have logged and charted where we have been; the surveillance state wants to know where we are going through psychological profiling. It’s been marketed for such uses as blocking hackers. Things seem to have advanced to a point where a truly scientific Orwellian world is at hand. It is estimated that computers know to a 93% accuracy where you will be, before you make your first move. Nanotech is slated to play a big role in going even further as scientists are using nanoparticles to directly influence behavior and decision making.
Facial recognition can best be described as a set of software tools that can be used recognise a face in a digital image. If you buy iPhoto 9, you can use these tools to help you organise your photos. Facial recognition is not bad in and of itself, in the same way that guns or hammers are not bad. All things can be put to bad uses, and facial recognition is just another tool.
CCTV combined with facial recognition in the hands of the state is a bad thing. Once the CCTV cameras are removed by mass civil disobedience, then facial recognition used in that system becomes a moot point. I have already covered the issue of the voluntary submission and cataloguing of your personal photos and information on Facebook and social networking sites.
Predictive Behavior technology can be likened to earthquake prediction technology. You can predict the arrival of ‘The Big One‘ down to the minute and second, but that will do nothing to stop the complete destruction of entire cities.
When the pressure of these compulsory totalitarian systems becomes too great, there will be a seismic event that will topple governments. With their systems, they may be able to time its coming, but they will not be able to prevent its consequences.
Above all, this is what people need to understand when they read fear-mongering pieces like this Activist Post pice. There is nothing the state can do in the face of total civil disobedience.
Many of us are asking: What would someone do with all of this information to keep us tracked, traced, and databased? It seems the designers have no regard for the right to privacy and desire to become the Controllers of us all.
You see? The fact is that no matter what data they collect, (most of it handed over and organised voluntarily by individuals) they cannot control everyone. There are not enough of them.
The beginning of the change will come when the people who believe that demonstrating is a useful tool wake up and realise that demonstrations are a form of control. When these millions turn their hands to tactics that are effective, non violent and with discreet ‘deliverables’ in the form of goals the ground will shake and all of these evil surveillance systems will be no more.