These days, you almost don’t even have to look for the surveillance state creeping its ugly head to see it. It’s everywhere. And with Oliver Stone’s SNOWDEN movie being released this Friday, it’s sure to turn the awareness factor on high and bring the debate to a kitchen table near you.
Neither presidential candidate has spoken out against any such surveillance state, or in favor of Snowden, whatsoever. Make no mistake, this election will set the tone for the wave of Washington-style surveillance into the next several years.
It’s up to you and me, to make a stand for the rights that we hold dear. The same rights that our children are hoping we hold dear. Be aware of bills, (like this one), that are being introduced to put a further stranglehold on our liberties and take proper action in whatever way feels appropriate for you. But do something.
We are actually living in the world that is very similar to what George Orwell wrote about in 1984. It’s just also the same world that Aldous Huxley wrote about too, in Brave New World. Either way, the time for change is now. Things like this and this are unacceptable.
Let's change it up.
Be smart. Be invisible.
Face the facts. Clear your tracks.
Life as you’ve known it is over. The world is becoming a very different place. No one has ever experienced life as what it's evolving into ever before. Your parents can't hold your hand or prepare you for what's coming. Your grandparents have no referential stories to share. The only ones that can give you a glimpse of the horizon are the ones studying what is on the precipice of technology and its dominating intentions for our culture.
That's the driving force behind Clear Your Tracks.
I’ve been hearing more and more elderly people saying that they’re relieved that they won’t see how scary things are going to get for the future generations with all the crazy technological advances. I tell them they have no idea how quickly those advances are occurring. If you plan on living the next five years, you’re going to see some crazy stuff.
Technology grows at an exponential rate. Look at the rate for which the internet itself gained users. It took nearly 3-4 decades before the internet gained 360 million users in the year 2000. In 2005, it reached its first billion. And it was only six more years before that number reached 2 billion in March 2011.
This kind of exponential growth has always proven hard for people to wrap their heads around and predict its effect.
These are our modern times and future crimes. It’s the wild, wild, web and it’s gearing up to become the wilder, wild, web and the only way to protect yourself is to know how to defend yourself.
There is no one coming to your rescue. You decide, right now, to make your move.
Clear your tracks.
“Just because you’re paranoid, don’t mean they’re not after you.” Kurt Cobain
Actually, they’re here already.
The machines. Computers. Robots. Droids.
Call them what you wish, but they’re here to stay for the foreseeable future. I'm just speaking matter of factly here. Speaking generally, we can surmise as to why that is. Why are they here? Why were they invented, and why do we insist on their presence in our lives? These are quite subjective musings.
Ultimately, most might say because they’re fun. They provide a lot convenience and amusement, which is pretty high on the priority list in the modern, civilized cultures. Others would say they increase productivity. They allow more and perhaps even greater quality work to be done.
Additionally, governments certainly favor “the machines,” because it makes it easier to “manage” people, ala Carroll Quigley. That’s basically the game they play. If you can control their thoughts, you control their actions. And if you can get them to willfully volunteer those thoughts while relinquishing their right to any privacy about such rights so to get yourself off the hook, then we really have something special. Just make it so amusing and entertaining that most will not ask or care why. They’ll just consent.
Social media (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.) is where most people spend their time online. If the “powers-that-be”
Technologies built right into the computers themselves can be used to track movements, monitor activity through the built-in camera and gain remote access to the microphone in your smartphone even if it’s turned off!
I’m not saying these things are coming. I’m saying they’re here! I’m typing on such a device, and you’re reading this from one right now. My friend, you’re crazy if you’re not paranoid. You know that word, “paranoid,” coming from the Greek meaning “outside the mind”? It’s like thinking outside the box or beyond the status quo. As more and more people become aware of the liberties that are being stripped away that box and the status quo will expand so that the “paranoid” will be seen as “ahead of their time.”
Of course, it helps that we have the documentation and technology to show that all this is really happening too.
I came across a Tweet that kind of surprised me. Maybe it shouldn't have since it is an attitude many people
This matter of privacy online is extremely controversial, and the perspectives are varied. It's generally reduced to a matter of privacy vs. security. But what happens when privacy and security are not part of the equation?
Oh well. I'll just give up and give in? In other words, I want privacy, but there isn't any.
We all want privacy, and we all want to feel secure. And while we may each require these to things in varying degrees, there is no need
Be mindful of the road that leads to complacency.
In one form or another, you’ve got
Did you know that you're being tracked by the actual people sending you an email? They can know if you’ve opened it, or if you clicked on a link inside it. What’s worse, they can even see what kind of device you are using and where you are!
Ugly mail, huh? Well, I’ll tell you about another kind of ugly email that you might actually want to have.
There is a service called… wait for it… Ugly Mail.
Ugly Mail informs you when an email is being tracked with a little “eye” icon. It’s not hugely known, partly because it only works for emails going to a Gmail account and you have to be using the Chrome browser. It’s had reports of slowing the loading of emails too. But, it generally seems to work…
When you go to download Ugly Mail, you get this disclaimer:
Maybe it’s legit; maybe it ’s not. Here’s the thing: it’s free. When something like this is free, and they admit to making “changes” it can mean they are making changes in THEIR favor so that may get a few bucks from an advertiser on the backend, or whatever it may be.
Not to pick on Ugly Mail, they’re just an example, (or warning). They provide a service. The service is to assist you in seeing who is tracking you. And they supposedly do that. Fair and square… As long as you agree to let them read and makes changes to your account. They don’t explain what exactly the changes are and why they’re necessary, even though the very service they are providing is about protecting privacy.
The bottom line is to be careful with the add-ons and plugins you use. You may agree or be comfortable with any tradeoffs, but just make sure you are aware of them. Especially when they are free.
They may not cost you money, but they likely cost you something.
These days, if you’re on the internet, you’re doing it. You can’t set up an email account, join any social media site or shop any major online retailer without doing it. You also can’t bank without doing it.
The state of “Privacy Policies” today is not any particular websites policy about protecting your privacy. On the contrary, it’s their statement about how they may use any information you provide to them, or they can gather from your other internet activity away from their site and sometimes even your computer. Much, much more often than not, these are cleverly written and physically formatted so that no one wants to read them, so it’s now common practice to just automatically click the box to accept the conditions. But more and more we are learning that many companies are up to “other than good” intent. At least, not in our favor.
It’s not a matter of morality for the people in these businesses. It’s, “if the law lets us do it, then we will do what we can get away with until we no longer can, or until the slap on the wrist hurts too much.” So they are forcing legislation by way of a lack of moral judgement. That is another way the “World Wide Web” is like the wild, wild west. There is little to no policing, so it’s up to the individual to protect herself. When you accept the “terms and conditions” put forth by a website, especially a “free” site, these days, you could reasonably ask yourself if you are opting into the New World Order.
It also shows an IM chat with Zuckerberg where he refers to Facebook users as “dumb f@$%s” for trusting him with their personal information.
It also has a few “interesting” anecdotes with former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt. Check it out. It’s a valuable primer on the subject and will get you thinking, discerning, about how you conduct yourself online.
It’s kinda like the adage, “you can’t make a good deal with a bad guy.”
Get someone scared enough of everything and they'll submit to anything.
I saw a video this morning of a segment on Good Morning America. The story involves a 10-year-old girl named Vendela Brainerd-Payne at an airport in North Carolina with her father. A bottle of juice that she was carrying set them off and the next thing dad and daughter know she is getting the old TSA pat-down (which lasted almost 2 minutes.)
Apparently her cell phone went off during the whole ordeal also.
Now, I wanna make a point, but before I do, I will acknowledge one thing. In 2016, we should all, by now, be aware that the TSA will give you a hard time if you have liquids, at least over a certain amount. And we probably shouldn’t be surprised if they give us a hard time if our cell phone starts ringing or making noises. Personally, I prefer to go incognito. When I get to the airport, I take my belt off, remove everything from my pockets and put them in my carry-on bag and turn my phone off. I think it’s ridiculous and silly, but it minimizes my risk of being singled out for stupid reasons as forgetting to take my belt off. Or a few coins set the metal detector off now I have to be frisked.
So with that said, let me say this- the TSA as an organization, is highly suspect. What has happened in this country for us to “reasonably” suspect that a ten-year-old girl carrying a pouch of juice needs to be “violated” and made “uncomfortable” by being frisked?
There is nothing that has happened before or after the Dept. Of Homeland Security or TSA was created to REASONABLY warrant a little girl to be frisked for a carrying a pouch of juice.
On Good Morning America, Michael Strahan, the cohost says he wouldn’t mind his two daughters being subjected to the same treatment as Vendela because it’s better to “err on the side of caution.” Because “people could use a child to get things through the TSA.”
That is what I call the “illusion of safety.”
Americans have too often and for too long been willing to trade their liberty, rights and sovereignty for the illusion of safety. When one doesn’t have any (again) REASONABLE references for frisking a 10-year-old girl in public at an airport but does so, that is called major, massive, total defeat of consciousness and it’s happening on our collective watch. How does that father explain to his little girl why they did that? He can't tell her about the time a little girl smuggled lighter fluid in a juice pouch onto a plane and killed innocent passengers.
The deeper fear roots itself into our minds, the further we will reach for safety by any means, at any cost, no questions asked, no other aspects to consider. Safety above everything. Get someone scared enough of everything and they'll submit to anything.
This experience alone isn’t the only landmark reference she’ll have going into her future. The discussion that she has with her parent(s) as to finding a meaning and explanation as to WHY it happened and why we live in a world where someone would physically violate her for carrying a pouch of juice onto an airplane.
This is the world in which our children are being born.
What does this have to do with Clearing Your Tracks online, in the digital world and the Illusion Of Safety? Well, there’s obviously the invasion of privacy factor. But furthermore, it’s a directly related matter because similar rules apply. In the physical world of the TSA, it’s just more concrete and visible. Except with the digital world, we go a step (or more) further. There is the NSA, which has tremendous abilities for spying and tracking. But virtually anyone, should they choose, could be a potential TSA-style invader of your digital self. Such invasions are happening in the physical and digital worlds. It’s just on a vastly larger scale in the digital world. And it’s getting worse. Largely because of complacent people that blindly trust their government or are too scared to act and speak out.
That works extremely well for the “powers that be” if one holds the correct perspective and iterates phrases of complacency like, “err on the side of caution” “better safe than sorry” “no harm, no foul” “they’re just doing their job”. These attitudes lack the careful and thoughtful attentiveness needed to improve these conditions.
What we need is a thoughtful and self-informed citizenry. As you’ve read this, I congratulate and thank you for being one in that tribe. I stand with you.
Many people are concerned about staying safe and anonymous while shopping offline. Major brands like Target, Neiman Marcus, Michaels, Home Depot, etc... With all the stores that have had their point of sale system hacked over the last few years, this has been an issue that needs remedies. One such remedy is quite simple.
Now, it's not as easy as just paying with cash. Not these days. There are a few things you want to consider
For example, I like to shop at my local bookstore. They have a great mix of new and used books. They can also order pretty much any new book you want if you can give them the ISBN number. He jots your name and phone number down on a post-it note and calls you when it’s in! And the he has a very cheap register that has no computer/wifi connected to it. Just a plain, old cash register. Now this is in far contrast to Amazon.com which stores all your search and purchase history in unencrypted text. So, as former NSA-whistleblower Edward Snowden said, “If you look for the book 1984 on Amazon, NSA knows about it.”
So if you want total privacy, we have that option. The idea is- brick and mortar stores. With cash. And low-tech.
You can do it at big-box stores too. Sticking with the previous example of a bookstore, it works totally fine at Barnes and Noble. Though if you wanted to special order something, they’d probably have to put your name and contact info into a computer, which will be attached to what you are buying. You could, however, ask if they might just order the book for the store’s general stock. Keep tabs on the website or call them a week or so later and head over once it’s in stock.
You can take this idea and apply it to any business. It’s simple too. You’re not going out of your way at all, or at least to a minimal degree. Let’s say you’re 17 years old and exploring your sexuality. You live with your parents, and they’ve given you a credit card. You might not want to use that credit card to purchase a book on homosexuality. What you want is a simple and private transaction. Cash at a local merchant. You certainly have the right. When you get off the internet and go to a store up the street you give yourself the option.
Since cash is still anonymous, we better take advantage of it. There’s been talk for a while now about putting RFID-style technology in dollar bills. While some high tech engineering does going into dollar bills, we’ve at least managed to keep it anonymous. For now.
These days with so much shopping being done online, and most of the money being transferred electronically, it’s a good reminder that old-fashioned cash is still anonymous and secure. Quite easily, you can avoid hackers and trackers by just supporting your local business with a few folded bills in your wallet.
No one needs to know what book you’re buying. Just like closing the bathroom door at home is completely reasonable, so is buying a book with cash.
Your private parts and shopping carts are your business!
“Paranoia is just another mask for ignorance. The truth, when you finally chase it down is almost always far worse than your darkest visions and fears.” Hunter S. Thompson
That quote sums up a lot. Including a lot of recent events. Specifically, the terrorist events in Paris.
The truth is always something we need to chase down. Unless we know ahead of time what was going to happen, there needs to be a period of investigation. And when I investigate, I have to chase it down. It doesn’t come knocking on my door. In fact, it has no interest in being found.
Additionally, to wallow in
When I’m present with what is going on, I am in my body. In my mind. Aware of what is happening. To not be aware of what is happening is to ignore it- to be in ignorance.
The stakes are rising higher and higher these days. Never in recorded history have fellow citizens and governments been able to spy, steal and surveil their fellow human as much as today with the internet. With each terrorist attack that occurs (like the Paris attack), governing agencies (like the CIA, cough- John Brennan) are using the lowly tactic of exploiting it to justify their legal, but unconstitutional ends of continued and more invasive surveillance.
So what do to do when terrorists strike, and they come looking for you to relinquish some of your rights as a sovereign individual for the sake of their undisclosed agenda? Step back. Take a deep breath. Become curious. Start learning and turning stones yourself. In the 3-dimensional world, there’s always more than meets the eye.
Ignorance is a prerequisite to paranoia. Curiosity and patience are prerequisites to sovereignty.
Wow. I just watched Alex Winter’s new documentary, “The Deep Web.”
If you haven’t seen this, I highly recommend you check it out now. Since you’re obviously online, it affects you and numerous rights that you hold assumed. The implications in this film are far-reaching and long-lasting.
It’s the story of the deep web and Ross Ulbricht, or as he was allegedly known on the Silk Road website, “Dread Pirate Roberts.” (As you may have imagined, the name was taken from the mythical Princess Bride character.) I don’t want to spoil the film for you but here are some key points to get you to check it out:
- Ross Ulbricht is an intelligent guy. He held multiple degrees, including a Master’s from Penn State, where he attended on a full scholarship.
- He supposedly started Silk Road to create a community for, probably among other reasons, to minimize the violence that is encountered through drug transactions and the overall “War on Drugs.”
- Through the forums on the Silk Road website, he wove a very clever political message and created a very large community with it.
- The story of Wired magazine senior editor, Andy Greenberg’s early correspondence with Ross on the Silk Road forums.
- Ross’s parents are interviewed extensively. Their presence sheds an interesting light on the dynamic of his family life. His sister is also featured.
The film shows some of the messages written by Dread Pirate Roberts, (aka, “DPR”) on the Silk Road website. “He” makes clear that Silk Road is not about drugs, or guns, or “sticking it to the man,” but more about freedom and citizen rights.
That does, however, contradict the fact that much of Silk Road ended up being about drugs, guns, and illegal activity. At least to those outside Silk Road. Additionally, while Ross was studying at Penn State, he became interested in Libertarianism.
This philosophical connection to DPR seems to thicken the plot a bit.
One of the initial challenges I think he will face regarding the public's opinion is the identity of the DPR character. Ross denies being DPR, but he was arrested in a public library in San Francisco with his laptop opened and confiscated while he was logged into the Silk Road website. With that evidence the government says Ross is DPR.
Ross admits starting Silk Road but denying being DPR with the government having his computer with all kinds of damning evidence (including a journal he supposedly
According to the film, the judge that Ross faced in court significantly restricted the Defense’s ability to counter much of the evidence and witnesses presented by the prosecution. One of the most troubling aspects of the whole case is that the FBI never had to disclose how they -seemingly- hacked the Silk Road servers. They had no warrant so it seems as though they may have violated Ross’s 4th Amendment by what may be an illegal search and seizure. The Defense was not allowed to bring this matter up during the trial.
There is still tremendous mystery and fear surrounding the Deep Web. Ross Ulbricht's story is one of getting caught in the deep web while on the Silk Road paved with Bitcoins and the FBI hot on his trail for years. There is so, so much to this story and film. And it affects all of us. I highly encourage you to check it out.
It’s a great film. And an important one. Whether you agree with the outcome of the trial or not, this is a Landmark Case and affects everyone in the world of Internet Privacy and our rights surrounding it.