PRISM proof your life

If some have their way,the names Edward Snowden and Glen Greenwald will be erased from the history books.  I doubt they will be successful, but I think that of the two, Mr. Greenwald’s name will have more staying power.  While Snowden provided the ingredients, Greenwald orchestrated the meal.  The way he structured the stories and paced the release of the information will be studied in journalism schools for decades.

Every time the story starts to die down, some “new” information comes to light that fires up the chaff cannons of both the non traditional and mainstream media.  It’s truly been a case study about how to use selective disclosure and work within the confines of the “short attention span theater” that is a majority of mainstream outlets while fanning the conspiratorial flames of the non traditional media all at the same time.

The drumbeat has been so steady, that I’ve actually started to think about making some changes about the way I use technology.  It’s not that I have anything to hide  - I blog pretty personal stuff after all.  Rather,  I’m worried about the chilling effect that knowing all of my information is being captured and stored – what will I not search for or read because I know its all being tracked?  I’m worried about how being worried about that will change my overall thinking patterns, effecting not just how I think about what I do online, but how I think overall.

There’s a bit of a catch-22 though.  If I just “go Amish” I will have done almost all I can to ensure my data isn’t being added to the NSAs server farms.  But it will also result in the most extreme chilling (to absolute zero) of my online activities. If I don’t make any changes in how I use technology then I either say “fuck it” and accept all my data being stored for ever and reviewed by people I’ll never know or I accept the chill.  What I hope is that I can change a few things and have the best of all outcomes: I can still use the net the way that I want and not be concerned about my data (or at least as much of it) being gobbled up by the NSAs online hoovers.

Here are the changes I am looking into

  • Dropping all traditional browsers and going to TOR + https to greatly reduce my the breadcrumbs I leave around the net when browsing.  The EFF has a pretty cool interactive infographic on what you remove from your signature when you use these technologies alone and even better together.  I don’t think this one would hurt too much and would have a good impact on reducing the volume of data the NSA can track.
  • Dropping my iPhone and getting a “dumb” phone to remove (or at least lessen) the ability to track where I am and listen to / watch what I am doing.  I think going “dumb” would hurt pretty bad.  So maybe instead I’ll get a phone with a removable battery or wait for the Black Phone.  While there is information out there about making your iPhone “NSA Proof” the reality is its probably not worth it.
  • Stop using credit/debit cards and paypal and start using more cash and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to remove the option to “follow the money”.  I’ve been thinking about moving to cash for more of the “regular monthly” expenses anyway (following a bit of Dave Ramsey’s advice here) and Bitcoin has my attention (although not until it dips again).  This one is pretty straight forward, has side benefits outside of saving disk space for the NSA and doesn;t seem like much of a PITA.
  • Start using encryption to make the stuff that does go out in the open harder to peer into.  This is easy for me to implement for both files and email, but the problem is I have to get all the people I need to send email and files to to get on board.  So while easy to implement personally, the network effect may make this one a PITA.
  • Switch my main computing environment to one based on a more secure platform. Windows and OSX are both completely open to the NSA.   I’ve read there is a 1 in 1000 chance that your linux system is compromised.  There may be an answer in a highly virtualized system like Qubes OS, which basically builds layer upon layer of virtual machine, with each one isolated from the other.  Seems like a little bit of a science project, but I’ve got plenty of spare hardware laying around, so I will probably give this one a try to see if its too much of a PITA.

What am I missing – what else should I be looking at?


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