If you are concerned about internet privacy there is quite a lot you can still to do reduce your profile. The next post will cover the first level of privacy which is focused on simple minimization. Subsequent posts will include increasing levels of paranoia. I am not revealing anything that isn’t already well known. The assorted scum of society are already using these techniques. Be advised that if you are doing something criminal, no amount of encryption will save you if your computer is compromised by law enforcement and depending on where you live, discovered. There are plenty of places that the possession of encryption is a criminal offense. In the US, a judge can, based on other evidence, compel you to reveal the password to an encrypted archive. Other places they will simply beat you to death if necessary. Speaking your mind is under assault everywhere and frankly, has been since time memorial. Persecution is the natural order of things in a broken world not liberty. If you were born in a mostly free country chances are that freedom is declining but you scarcely notice. The metaphor across generations is not a boiled frog because even the frog in actual practice jumps out of water but rather it’s Pavlov’s dog if he could understand propaganda. It’s hard to imagine a world different then the one you are born into. It’s a relatively small subset of the population who longs to be truly free but at the same time rejects anarchy.
Why should you care about your privacy? Well, a lot has been written about that so I won’t regurgitate all those points. I will say this, as is stated repeatedly in every American police drama ever shown, “What you say can and will be used against you in a court of law;” and that means everything you say regardless of where you say it. In fact, I do not blog here under my real name for a variety of reasons. One reason is my belief that you should connect to the art, the idea, not the author. Another is separating my life long love of art and poetry from my professional life. The other is the uncertainty that if I write something that bothers a mentally unstable person, it could spill over into my personal life and affect my family. And even if mentally stable, extreme elements in the United States have quite a history of harassment of those who disagree with them whether, employees of the IRS, leftist front groups or white separatists. I am not going to let that happen and neither do I want go to jail for threat reduction. I wouldn’t think twice of eliminating a threat to my family any more than I think twice about stepping on a cockroach. Although I blog under a pen name, nothing I write is a fabrication. And if I seem perhaps a bit too paranoid to you, maybe even silly, I have been enough places in the world not to take unnecessary chances.
Back on task, who are the privacy violators? They can be anyone but the most aggressive are mostly large corporations like AT&T, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook (actually free software companies where you trade privacy for software including all social media) and of course, the government of nation states who have their reasons –not all of which are salutary. Realize also that there is a fair amount of cooperation between large corporate entities and nation states. Without question, what should be dedicated to the soul is dedicated to the sale. If you doubt that ask yourself how many countries has Nestlé been driven out of? I will save you the research the answer is none. In fact, they take that as a source of pride that once they enter a country they don’t leave. They are still in Cuba paying the ruthless Castro regime a lump sum per worker per year while he pays them scarcely enough to feed a dog. The simple fact is no matter how admirable a corporation’s products are the more power that is concentrated, the more concentrated the moral failings of mankind are too. Small is beautiful not simply because it is small but because it lacks the resources to do mass evil. And while corporations are mostly a nuisance the most ruthless killer ever to walk the earth is the nation state run by power hungry men.
The technological world we occupy is night and day from the 18th century. If you wanted privacy then perhaps you just walked out into a field somewhere late at night. Today the cities have cameras everywhere. The denizens of London are the most watched people in the history of the world. All those cameras don’t stop crime they just make cleaning up easier. “Clean up on the British Isles.” If you want to stop crime, you arm the populace. This idea frightens the bunny people everywhere but mostly it frightens those members of the government who secretly harbor the desire for control. An armed man is far more difficult to humiliate and treat like chattel. Don’t fool yourself for a minute, the world is full of people who think things would go swimmingly if they just ran everything. Men like the current US President, Barack Obama. They are no more likely to disappear from the earth than rats. Unfortunately far too many spineless men hear weapon and think widespread anarchy and pandemonium as if the mere existence of a gun in a person’s hand will turn them into a lunatic. The opposite occurs. If I am carrying and you’re carrying, we are both far more likely to be polite. The cost of rudeness is too high. Some of the most polite people you meet are walking out of a range.
But weapons like all technology create trade offs. The digital domain lowered the costs of publishing to next to nothing and at the same time lowered the costs of storing information about you the same amount. Your digital footprint is everywhere and stored as an IP address in a log file on a server, as a comment to a blog, perhaps a post to a newsgroup, a question on a mailing list, or a “Like” on Facebook or other social media. You can’t store the logs forever but you can store them for a long time if the state mandates it. What is more is the costs of storage will just be passed on to you. And all this stored information creates a profile about you. You have behavioral patterns that you never noticed but can be found with artificial intelligence software. Cluster the data of enough people with similar interests together and before long they become predictable in their purchasing habits as group just not as individuals. Provide them with incentives geared to their psychology and you can increase sales significantly. Eventually, everything you purchase of any utility will be embedded with traceable, trackable “smart dust.” Simply by following the things you own that you carry you can and most likely will be tracked. A day may come when the person who carries nothing will be suspect simply because he has chosen not to be tracked. “If you aren’t doing anything wrong what do you have to fear?” That question no matter how many times it is answered will reappear again and again as each generation confronts the next attack on their privacy.