Thursday, August 29, 2013

Getting off the (surveillance) grid

If everything is monitored, how do you make it so that the monitors don't know that it's you?  The Chiefio does some experimentation, and the results are very interesting:
Our paranoid intrusive and Police State government has leaned on the Mail Box companies such that you can’t just sign up and pay and get an address. You must already have an address to get an address. TWO forms of ID are required (one with photo and government issued…), copies of them are kept, you must have a real physical address that they can take down, they want an email address and a telephone too. Oh, and a credit card (which must have an address too…) Then there is the official Application For Mail Delivery Via an Agent form to fill out. One can show a “power company bill” to show you have a local address, that way you can get a mail box to have a local address… Sigh.
Know going in that the system is designed to identify you when you set up services, and then track those services, linking them back to you.
Not particularly wanting my phone number to get tons of crap calls, nor have it shared with everyone and their cousin, I thought I could at least get a local phone number via either a “Burner phone” or an IP Phone (internet phone). The “Burner phones” looked a bit expensive (at about $40 / month) so I looked into an IP Phone. At $9 and then about $10 / month, not too bad. Wally World has their “Basic Talk” at that price point, so I decided to play with it. “Burner Email” accounts being fairly easy to get, I’m assuming folks can do that on their own. (I went ahead and used a ‘real email’ for the initial set up; but if really working on a “Private Existence” first step looks to be “get a burner email address” since everyone wants the email to do anything.
But how do you pay for this?
So I had already picked the number I wanted for the Gizmo, but it balked at that as my “contact number”. I eventually gave it a number of a phone at work. THEN it was happy to complete the set up. THEN it let me change the number to the one on the Basic Talk gizmo. So as long as you have a ‘Burner’ number, you can eventually get this set up to be your ONE phone number. (One is left wondering how long the ‘Burner’ number is kept in records… and if a pay phone number would also work…) At any rate, you then also must give it a credit card for billing (and the Billing Address for that card, too).
This is long and detailed, and certainly improvable with some thinking.  But it points in the direction of actual on the grid but off the grid anonymity:
So, for example, by getting a prepaid card, using this Basic Talk phone number, and a quasi-valid address, Burner Email, etc., one could then use it to get a Mail Box. Now with that Mail Box, one gets a different prepaid card, phone number, etc. Then the first set are closed up. Move to a different address. Once a year or so, repeat. After a while, the trail back to anything physically you (home, bank, cell phone) can be muddied enough that most folks would not follow it. (Though enough would be in NSA databases for them to unscramble it, at least for the 5 year retention period they claim to be using now.)
If you are interested in this sort of thing, you need to read the entirety of this post.


Anonymous said...

So much for the mail drop of yore...


Paladin said...

TWO forms of ID are required (one with photo and government issued…),


Peter said...

There's another way, of course. Have friends each set up accounts in this way - then simply exchange phones, addresses, whatever. If "Anne Jones" and "John Smith" simply use each other's phones and generic e-mail addresses, who's going to know on the monitoring end unless they're watching very carefully? They could even do this through three or four random exchanges over a few months. That would be very hard to track.

Dave H said...

I seem to remember a comedy sketch years ago about hide-and-seek being an Olympic event. I think we're getting to that level of effort now.

Anonymous said...

This film demonstrates the value of not being seen. Unfortunately for them, the persons featured in the film should have picked different adversaries....