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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Protect Your Privacy When It's Out of Your Control?

samzenpus posted about 10 months ago | from the always-watching dept.

Privacy 174

An anonymous reader writes "A week ago, Slashdot was asked, "How do you protect your privacy?" The question named many different ways privacy is difficult to secure these days, but almost all of the answers focused on encrypting internet traffic. But what can you do about your image being captured by friends and strangers' cameras (not to mention drones, police cameras, security cameras, etc.)? How about when your personal data is stored by banks and healthcare companies and their IT department sucks? Heck; off-the-shelf tech can see you through your walls. Airport security sniffs your skin. There are countless other ways info on you can be collected that has nothing to do with your internet hygiene. Forget the NSA; how do you protect your privacy from all these others? Can you?"

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When it's out of your control (5, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | about 10 months ago | (#45568247)

...you can't. That's what "out of your control" means.

Re:When it's out of your control (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#45568335)

You certainly can't 'control' it. It might be possible to guide it to a small degree. Especially with the ubiquitous use of 'surveillance' cameras which are, at present, fairly low technology, low resolution devices that can be spoofed by various means.

Maybe a new line of cosmetics that had a lot of reflectivity in the infrared (where most of these cameras have a lot of sensitivity). Change your facial structure oh so slightly, make your hair look different. Perhaps some integrated IR / UV LEDs in your clothing to effect the same thing. Why there could be several millionaires hiding in this er, umm, opportunity. You just have to look at things the right way.

And of course, you could easily camouflage yourself by wearing baggy pants, a baseball hat and a hoodie, thereby looking like every under 25 male in the developed world.

Always look on the bright side of life (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#45568345)

Oh, one more thing.

If you can't make money fighting the system, you certainly could make some by maintaining all of these electronic / computer gizmos.

Again, you folks just have to start looking at the bright side of things.

After all, nothing from nothing....

Re:Always look on the bright side of life (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568539)

Somebody's getting paid to study advanced interrogation techniques at Guantanamo. Maybe you should apply.

Re:When it's out of your control (0)

Kohath (38547) | about 10 months ago | (#45568371)

You certainly can't 'control' it. It might be possible to guide it to a small degree. Especially with the ubiquitous use of 'surveillance' cameras which are, at present, fairly low technology, low resolution devices that can be spoofed by various means.

You can also smash them (put on a mask first, obviously). Or shoot them with a shotgun.

Re:When it's out of your control (5, Informative)

postbigbang (761081) | about 10 months ago | (#45568389)

You can go to insane lengths, but it will make you insane.

Diligence, tenacity, questioning authority, using pseudonyms, alternate identities (within legal contraints), and being sensible can be rewarding.

I'm betting your browser doesn't have NoScript or Ghostery.... and your phone is an Apple (some say less tracking, others don't) or an Android (just email your every waking moment to Google and friends) and you can mod both phones to be less tracking.

Take a deep breath, acknowledge that they track you, then do what you can to stop it. Question the need for SocSec, phone #s, addresses, at each and every turn. Don't use barcode store cards-- or use someone else's. Pay cash for top-up charge cards, and use them once.

Steal This Book and other tomes (which you'll steal or pay cash for) are great guides to anonymity. Think about them. Don't go crazy.

Re:When it's out of your control (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 10 months ago | (#45569269)

being sensible can be rewarding

That is the best advice.

The best thing you can do when it's out of your control is just get in the way. Make it harder for them to take your privacy.

First, you have to value that privacy.

Re:When it's out of your control (4, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | about 10 months ago | (#45569299)

IMHO, privacy is a part of dignity, a human rather then corporate/political quality. To value dignity is important for people, and corporations/politicos have no need for dignity. The value is important, and it is fought in many marketing memes, PR, and values-- where the almighty currency rules.

Re:When it's out of your control (2)

plover (150551) | about 10 months ago | (#45569409)

You mean like CV dazzle makeup? [engadget.com]

It might be popular in Ibiza clubs, but I don't see it walking down Main Street, Anytown, USA.

Re:When it's out of your control (2, Funny)

slartibartfastatp (613727) | about 10 months ago | (#45568385)

Although one can always wear a tinfoil hat.

Re:When it's out of your control (1)

steelfood (895457) | about 10 months ago | (#45568779)

What good is protecting your brain only? You need to wear it everywhere. They make Faraday suits that look like hazmat suits. The bonus of wearing that everywhere is that you're completely anonymous since no one can tell who you are underneath (the only downside being that you're now the guy wearing the Faraday suit everywhere).

Also line your walls with tin foil. Or at least turn your exterior walls into a Faraday cage and put up steel grates over your windows. You won't be able to steal your neighbor's wifi signal, but at least your neighbors won't be able to throw a brick through your window and steal your stuff either.

Re:When it's out of your control (1)

number11 (129686) | about 10 months ago | (#45569137)

What good is protecting your brain only? You need to wear it everywhere. They make Faraday suits that look like hazmat suits. The bonus of wearing that everywhere is that you're completely anonymous since no one can tell who you are underneath (the only downside being that you're now the guy wearing the Faraday suit everywhere).

Also line your walls with tin foil. Or at least turn your exterior walls into a Faraday cage and put up steel grates over your windows. You won't be able to steal your neighbor's wifi signal, but at least your neighbors won't be able to throw a brick through your window and steal your stuff either.

Stucco is basically concrete troweled onto steel mesh. If you pay some attention to making sure each piece of steel mesh is electrically connected to the adjoining pieces, and grounded, and used aluminum screen over the windows (or maybe used metallic film coatings on the windows), steel doors, and either installed conductive screen over the attic floor or used steel roofing (the good stuff isn't cheap, but will pretty much last forever, never need to re-roof again), you'd probably have a pretty good Faraday cage.

Maybe add a whole-house low-pass filter where the power comes in. You could get one that provided whole-house surge protection at the same time.

Wouldn't be easy to retrofit, but if you were building, or doing major rehab, it probably wouldn't add much cost.

Re:When it's out of your control (1)

ewieling (90662) | about 10 months ago | (#45569375)

Make sure to use cash to pay for your tinfoil. Dollar for dollar (pun intended) using cash is one of the most effective ways to increase your privacy. You cannot have total privacy and live in the modern world, but you can drastically reduce your electronic footprint.

Change your name (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568433)

Change your name to John or Jane Smith. If someone tries to search for your info, they will be literally flooded with false positives. Sometimes I wish I had a common name like that.

Re:Change your name (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568883)

Good idea. In the US James Smith is more popular having 629 more than John. Jane isn't even in the top ten anymore better to go with Mary. If you want to get a better age demographic match you might try http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/decades/index.html

Re:Change your name (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 10 months ago | (#45569263)

This is the correct answer. Also, although trite, naming your children after cultural icons that share your family name if possible can help. Your little Dexter Morgan will never be in the top search results as progressive copyright extensions drag the series' exploitation to the end of time, minus a day. No help against government snoops but keeps the idle stalkers at bay. Of course little Dexter may need it explained, lest he find it suggestive...

Re:Change your name (1)

qbast (1265706) | about 10 months ago | (#45569353)

Until any of John Smiths does anything that puts him on a no-fly or 'domestic extremist' list.

Re:When it's out of your control (3, Interesting)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | about 10 months ago | (#45568503)

Wow, I'd mod you even higher except the very second I hit this forum /. expired my damned mod points! Oh the humanity.

I'd expand on your answer. The truth is that the cat is out of the bag. We can't get this sort of privacy back. We probably can't ever get back the CERTAINTY of any sort of privacy. If there's advantage to be had, someone will listen. You will never be SURE that the NSA (which isn't going away) isn't or can't listen to you, get all your facebook data, etc. Even if it isn't them it could be SOMEONE. You can't ever truly know what software any modern computer is running for certain. You absolutely can't be sure that your SSL connections are secure, or that if you use Tor that someone is STILL not tracking you.

The truth is, we're better if we go with the flow and take control of the situation. Live more in the open. That's what we ARE going to do, but if we do it RIGHT then we put at least SOME controls on things. We need to insure that whatever the government knows, we know. If there isn't some absolute direct reason why given data should be hidden, then it should be open. All data about what people do should belong to the public. It should make the rules. I think we'll all find at that point we want to exercise restraint and life will be able to go on. The alternative is we fight for a losing cause, total privacy, and end up with all our data owned by corporations and stuck in Top Secret NSA vaults, and all these people just listening to everything without the slightest oversight.

Re:When it's out of your control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568715)

The alternative is we fight for a losing cause, total privacy

No one is saying anything about total privacy.

and end up with all our data owned by corporations and stuck in Top Secret NSA vaults, and all these people just listening to everything without the slightest oversight.

Giving up on privacy will prevent those things? That doesn't follow. Privacy is a basic human need.

Re:When it's out of your control (2)

cavreader (1903280) | about 10 months ago | (#45568791)

The first thing people should to do is understand the difference between privacy versus anonymity. The former can be somewhat achieved depending on ones actions but not 100% and the latter is impossible to achieve unless you live in a cave and do not use any modern electronic devices while also staying away from anywhere that might be under video surveillance such as stores, ATM's, and even roads. The government has had the ability to track or identify someone long before the Internet came on the scene. SS numbers, birth certificates, drivers licenses, marriage licenses, property deeds,car registry, and the mother load of personal information contained in your federal and state tax filings. Phone metadata has also existed in one form or another by the service providers for billing purposes.

Re:When it's out of your control (5, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 10 months ago | (#45569395)

The truth is, we're better if we go with the flow and take control of the situation. Live more in the open. (...) All data about what people do should belong to the public.

You're part of the "we" that like to dictate for everyone else. No, all data about what I do should belong to me. My life is my own and in general it's nobody else's business, I accept that in certain ways aspects of my life is in less than perfect secrecy because it happens in public or around other people or with private or public institutions but my bank account is a private matter between the bank and me. My pay check is a private matter between my employer and me. Where my cell phone is located is a private matter between the cell phone company and me. Life is full of small compartmentalized exchanges of information which together make up the bulk of what we consider privacy. Having sex isn't "private" because those you have sex with can tell other people about it, but I think most would consider an organized collection of that information was an invasion of privacy.

I'm not interested in living my life "fully in the open" as long as there as busybodies, bigots, rumormongers, besserwissers, peer pressure and so on. It's human nature to meddle in things that are none of their business, even if the NSA was wiped off the face of the earth I'd still want my privacy. Apparently you totally disagree since you want to go in that direction anyway, good for you. Put up webcams and broadcast your life to the world if you want, just don't drag me into it. Don't pretend it's something I want to, should have to or need to. And if you want to share video from a private establishment using Google Glass and is asked to leave, please make a scene so I can cheer when they throw you out. The NSA, well we might not win that fight but everyone with total access is a worse nightmare than just the NSA.

Re:When it's out of your control (1)

pigsycyberbully (3450203) | about 10 months ago | (#45568589)

"Antisocial" people avoid this type of surveillance all the time they have two different identities the public one and the private one. Gangster governments do it and illegal immigrants do it and "antisocials" do it. Most of the public do not because they are just keeping their heads down and doing their time until they go into the box, or into the fire.

Re:When it's out of your control (5, Interesting)

StripedCow (776465) | about 10 months ago | (#45568661)

...you can't. That's what "out of your control" means.

Well actually, you can. The trick is to inject noise into the system, such that Google/Facebook's statistical classifiers and the such stop working.
For example, take pictures of yourself, and tag them using a stranger's name.
Or, take random pictures not featuring yourself, and tag them using your own name.
Perform fake google searches every day (search for stuff that you have no interest in whatsoever).

And so forth.

In fact, I see a business model here.

Re:When it's out of your control (4, Informative)

nospam007 (722110) | about 10 months ago | (#45568789)

"Perform fake google searches every day (search for stuff that you have no interest in whatsoever)."

There's even an extension for that..
http://cs.nyu.edu/trackmenot/ [nyu.edu]

Re:When it's out of your control (2)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 10 months ago | (#45569055)

I'm pretty sure I said this before at some point, but that plugin isn't half as clever as it likes to think it is, and gives a dangerously false sense of security. How hard do you think it will be for someone to note the behaviour of the plugin, spot *any* patterns or discrepancies in the pseudo-randomised "false queries" that make them relatively easy to filter out, or at least flag as dubious?

If that's possible- and it quite probably is, unless the writers were *very* good at what they did- your past history will then be readable- and mineable- just as if you'd been surfing the web without it active.

In addition, even if the weakness of the plugin is spotted and the algorithm subsequently improved, your behaviour from before that point is still very probably on record, and can still be checked.

Re:When it's out of your control (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about 10 months ago | (#45569291)

Hrm ... wouldn't it still be Better Than Nothing (tm), though?

Re:When it's out of your control (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 10 months ago | (#45569331)

It's kind of like security-by-obscurity. It's not the same as real security.

Re:When it's out of your control (2)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 10 months ago | (#45569435)

Hrm ... wouldn't it still be Better Than Nothing (tm), though?

No, not- as I said- if it gives people a false sense of security.

Re:When it's out of your control (3, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about 10 months ago | (#45568681)

Right. The solution is legislative. I know that's never the answer. But what would happen if a law was passed declaring "Personally identifying information is under the exclusive copyright of the person identified by it. It may be transferred once, but no more, without explicit written consent (and written means on paper). Any personally identifiable information that is shared must be tagged with the source and all destinations. Upon a takedown request, the person issuing the takedown shall be provided with all sources and destinations of the information requested. Keeping information after a lawful takedown is received is a felony."

Some laws like that, and our privacy will return.

But such laws would be great for the people and bad for the billionaire business owners who exploit personal information. So it'll never happen until Americans stop voting for Democrats or Republicans.

Re:When it's out of your control (3, Insightful)

Smallpond (221300) | about 10 months ago | (#45568819)

Here ya go [wikipedia.org] It's been on the books since 1974. The Federal government is prohibited from collecting personally identifiable on you without notifying you, etc. How's that working out?

Fight back! (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568249)

- Shame people who are doing such activities.
- Convince others that what they are doing is a bad idea.
- When all else fails, get violent.

Condom (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568265)

Wear a condom. It works for me.

Re:Condom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568983)

Wear a condom. It works for me.

Too bad it didn't work for your father.

By being as boring as possible (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568271)

It worked keeping away a lot of people.

Re:By being as boring as possible (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568349)

gain 120lb and be as unattractive as I can?
Can you pass me the deep fried butter stick in bacon wrap and the cheese dips please? I can't get up from my couch.

Re:By being as boring as possible (1)

mrclisdue (1321513) | about 10 months ago | (#45569021)

Indeed, I slept through your post and missed it.

Not privacy (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 10 months ago | (#45568289)

I'm not entirely sure that any of those things are about privacy, as any right to privacy does not extend to the right to be completely unknown.

Re:Not privacy (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 10 months ago | (#45568333)

Indeed. It reminds me of the reported fear of photographs shown by various primitive peoples, fearing that it was taking away their souls.

Fundamentally it's a fear of change. The new seems scary to some. People born to it will just see it as the way things ought to be. Till they in turn get scared by some new technology that arrives in their lifetime.

Re:Not privacy (2)

khallow (566160) | about 10 months ago | (#45568505)

There were some things that stayed scary even when they don't change for centuries. Nobody gets accustomed to the Spanish Inquisition.

Re:Not privacy (2)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 10 months ago | (#45568901)

Fundamentally it's a fear of change.

Not all change is for the better, and some things are worth fearing. Ironically, the best lessons about the future dangers of this kind of technology can be found in history.

Re:Not privacy (4, Informative)

elwinc (663074) | about 10 months ago | (#45568541)

Sounds like we need to talk about what privacy really is. A good definition of privacy is "control of your personal information" (probably from This paper. [louisville.edu] ) Of course, keeping personal information entirely secret is the best means of control, but in the modern world, complete secrecy is getting more and more impractical. So what else could we do?

One option I've heard is a property right, such as ownership (similar to copyright) of personal information. Joe "owns" his name &* address, and he'll loan a copy to Time Magazine for the purpose of delivering the periodical he has paid for. Any other use of Joe's information by Time Magazine is a violation, unless Joe & Time have come to some other agreement. This is very similar to copyright, so let's just call it personal copyright.

Copyright might be too blunt an instrument though, because remedies mostly involve (expensive) civil suits. A number of European governments passed legislation called Fair Information Practices. [cdt.org] These laws basically say that personal information can only be used for the purpose for which it was given, and cannot be repurposed without consent of the person involved. Probably the governments involved have given themselves a loophole for national security, but I haven't investigated the details. This option reduces the cost to the individual, and makes it the job of the government to enforce the law. I see this as a benefit, though some may not.

Writing Fair Information Practices into law would probably explode the business models of the currently most successful tech companies in the USA, so maybe there's a way to ease into the laws and allow the tech companies time to adjust their business methods...

Re:Not privacy (2)

Smallpond (221300) | about 10 months ago | (#45568751)

The problem is that the phone companies believe that those call records are made on their systems and belong to them. The credit card companies own the transaction records between you and some merchants. Just because your name is in it, they don't believe that it is your information or that you have any control over it. Copyright does not apply to facts and its tough to draw a line anywhere over what should be private.

What privacy is, and what needs protecting (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 10 months ago | (#45568971)

Of course, keeping personal information entirely secret is the best means of control, but in the modern world, complete secrecy is getting more and more impractical.

It's not just impractical; for most people, it's undesirable. You can't interact in many useful ways with people or organisations you'd like to collaborate with unless you inherently give up some degree of personal information. That "loss" of privacy isn't in itself a problem for most people, because it's done willingly and typically for mutual benefit.

The problems usually start when others get hold of the information, or when information that was willingly shared for one useful purpose then gets reused for something else. Technology makes both of these possibilities increasingly easy, but as always that technology is ethically neutral.

IMHO, what we need is to establish standards of respect for this kind of personal data, where it's not socially acceptable to share potentially sensitive information about someone without their knowledge and consent. Just because technology means we could do something, it doesn't mean we have to, any more than I have to drink five pints this afternoon and then drive home at 90mph past the park where your kids are playing just because I have money and a car. The common idea that you can't solve social problems with technological measures applies.

Where necessary, those social norms then need to be backed by force of law, so that organisations with contrary motivations such as businesses and governments are compelled to comply as well.

Re:Not privacy (1, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 10 months ago | (#45569007)

You really believe you should have control over public facts about you? That you have the right to never be documented in public in any form? The ability to enforce your whims over your friends?

There are certain things you should control, and in the UK most of those are covered by the Data Protection Act. But I wouldn't ever consider that I have the right to never, ever be known, to disappear entirely while still in public or to control what my friends can and cannot say about me.

If you are in public, then you should expect to actually be publicly exposed in some ways and everyone should have the right to record you and your activities when you are in public. Private citizens should equally not be bound by laws meant for corporations, and should be able to record or disseminate any information they know about you. The law isn't there to enforce your perceived rights over whomever you decide to hang around with, or to fix your bad choice of friends.

Re:Not privacy (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 10 months ago | (#45569357)

This is very similar to copyright, so let's just call it personal copyright.

This will not work for the simple reason that in the EULA, you are waiving all your rights away.
Big companies win again.

Re:Not privacy (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 10 months ago | (#45568615)

Well, I disagree. There was a time where you could just decide "Fuck it, I don't like people" and walk into the woods. Short of moving to Alaska or Northern Canada, that's pretty much not possible anymore. We lost that right about 100+ years ago. I think that, if there was still an option to do such a thing, we'd likely have fewer of these horrific mass murders. Those that chose to reject society could do so completely and fully without resorting to such violent extremes.

Re:Not privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568693)

these horrific mass murders are noise in terms of impact on the human population. they aren't common by any means, just well-publicized

Re:Not privacy (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#45568909)

Lots of room up here. Plenty of space. And if you wait it out long enough the climate will warm up enough to where you might even be able to grow some food.

An Historical Document [imdb.com] for you to peruse if you are interested.

one quick method.. (2, Interesting)

waddgodd (34934) | about 10 months ago | (#45568297)

First, you stop asking sefl-defeating questions. The question is not "how do you protect privacy when its out of your control", it's "how do I control things in order to increase my privacy" You ask how to maintain your privacy when your friends all have cameras, why do you have friends that pull out a camera at the drop of a hat again? You ask about protecting personal data that's collected by banks and companies that have horrible IT, why are you doing business with them again? Your privacy is literally your own business, and if you don't mind it, someone else will.

Re:one quick method.. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568453)

How do you know the banks and companies you do business with don't have horrible IT? Are you James Bond?

Re:one quick method.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568747)

See, I feel like the actual question being asked here is, "How quickly will I drive myself insane trying to control everything around me for no real gain?"

Just Put That 666 On My Forehead Already!! (2)

zenlessyank (748553) | about 10 months ago | (#45568299)

Let's get this show on the road already!!

By giving things up (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568321)

The premise of the question implies "How can I keep doing everything I'm doing right now but 100% maintain my privacy?". That's a dumb question. Look at the assumptions--how do you maintain your privacy when all your friends take pictures of you all the time and share them online? Gee whiz, how about asking your friends not to take pictures of you? Or consider whether being a socialite and a party animal is compatible with your aim of privacy? How about when personal data are stored by banks? Maybe you should consider reducing the amount of data you give to banks to begin with. Airports? Consider not flying.

The problem is that making these lifestyle changes actually involve giving things up, which no one wants to do. If you want a quiet, private, contemplative life lived independent of others then make such a life for yourself. If you want to be an interconnected urbanite who takes full advantage of globally connecting technologies, there's going to be a degree of privacy loss.

I like privacy and I donate to the EFF and I'm for reforming all of the above scenarios to give users more control of their privacy. But given that those reforms haven't happened and the problem is getting worse, at some point you have to change your own behaviour and consider if the goodies you get exceed the value of the privacy you're losing.

Out of your control? (2)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 10 months ago | (#45568323)

How Do You Protect Your Privacy When It's Out of Your Control?

You give it up with a smile and don't, or you hire lawyers.

It's debatable that you can (5, Insightful)

astralagos (740055) | about 10 months ago | (#45568325)

About 20 years ago, I worked for a private detective firm. At the time, I could call up a consultant who given a couple of pieces of information (name and address), would produce for me a complete dossier on a person - their social security number, credit history, vehicular records, neighbors, etc. This was, at the time, a few hundred bucks and a few days of work. Companies such as spokeo now offer to tell you all that information for about 15 bucks.

I don't believe that technological privacy is achievable, and I'm skeptical that it's valuable. Whether cryptography actually works (an interesting mathematical question in itself), cryptosystems fail fairly often. Even when they do work, to truly be untraceable or private with them you have to effectively opt out of commerce. Don't logon to anything when you're using Tor, kids; also, don't use Google, since they can always watch your referer tags and see 3/4 of your pages that way. The problem with privacy as we normally talk about it is that it is extremely fragile -- what we've historically taken as 'privacy' was really laziness -- going back to my example from the detective firm above, all this information was already there, it was just split into a couple of dozen different archives and databases. Beforehand, it took time and effort, so you had privacy because unless something was really important, it wasn't worth the effort of searching. Now, it's very easy to record and archive, and we've been focused for many years on making recording and archiving easier, and we elect to be recorded and archived in order to participate with other people -- bank won't serve you if you're wearing a ski mask, visit vegas and you'll see that any table game has very specific gestures and rules to make what you're doing camera-friendly, want a loan you need to have a credit rating.

So, privacy has to be implemented, which means its going to be a combination of legal, technical and social elements. Technical in the same sense as breaking and entering -- the definition of B&E is that the breaker has to make -an- effort, regardless of how trivial. Lifting a latch is considered B&E, and similarly you need some indication that you're trying to achieve privacy. Legal in the sense of limiting the consequence when your privacy is breached.

Re:It's debatable that you can (2)

swillden (191260) | about 10 months ago | (#45568565)

It's also worth considering that privacy is a relatively new concept in human history. Until the last few hundred years, at most, the vast majority of humanity lived in small villages or tribes where basically everyone knew everything about everyone else, at least within their village. Secrets could be kept, but only with difficulty and usually not for a long time.

I think it's worth considering that perhaps privacy is neither necessary nor desirable, and the real problem that we're struggling with isn't privacy but asymmetry of information. In a small village everyone knew everything you did, but you also knew everything they did, so no one was at a disadvantage.

I'm not saying that's how it should be or even that that's how I want it to be. I really don't know where we're going to go with respect to privacy. The one thing I am sure of is that it can be very bad when people believe they have privacy, and make decisions accordingly, only to later find out that they really didn't.

Re:It's debatable that you can (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568965)

Privacy is necessary in a stratified society, the more stratified the more neccessary. The issue is people with power exploiting people with less power. Knowledge is power and anonimity is the antidote.

Re:It's debatable that you can (1)

swillden (191260) | about 10 months ago | (#45569031)

Or is sous-veillance the antidote? I think there are legitimate questions here, and the answers are neither as simple nor as obvious as you imply.

Re:It's debatable that you can (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45569247)

The world has always been a lot bigger than the small village within which you had "no" privacy. Outside that village, you might as well not exist. Contrast with now, when a faceless clerk or a humming corporate computer might "accidentally" destroy your life because it did something with your information based on the data it had, possibly for unrelated reasons. And that's not even counting identity fraud. You did have privacy back when, only you didn't know you did.

It isn't merely asymmetry, but also power, leverage, transparency, and so on. It's the difference between getting levied for service (in the army, on a ship, what have you) because you looked like you'd do, and getting hunted down by name because someone somewhere singled you out on a logic that perhaps only makes sense to the system itself.

The former problem is fairly easily dodged as long as you know they're levying, and where. Your village will likely help you with that. The only way to protect you from the latter is to make sure it never ever learns of your existence.

Re:It's debatable that you can (3, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 10 months ago | (#45569293)

Until the last few hundred years, at most, the vast majority of humanity lived in small villages or tribes where basically everyone knew everything about everyone else, at least within their village. Secrets could be kept, but only with difficulty and usually not for a long time.

And there was very little creative output. Cities enabled the privacy that comes with being just another face in the crowd. Some people like to complain that in the city no knows their neighbors. But that very lack of societal pressure enables people to be more adventurous. It lets people take risks because if they do something stupid it won't haunt them for the rest of their life.

When the pressure to conform is lifted people naturally see the world in new ways because they don't have to worry whether their neighbors agree or not. Take away the freedom that comes with privacy and progress - both artistic and scientific - will come to a near standstill.

Re:It's debatable that you can (1)

swillden (191260) | about 10 months ago | (#45569345)

Interesting point, although you can also pin the lack of creative output on the inability to exchange ideas outside of a small sphere. I can't refute your claim, but I see other possibilities as well.

Like this (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 10 months ago | (#45568627)

Like this:
http://users.commspeed.net/guzzi/images/aluman.jpg [commspeed.net]

(http://forums.radioreference.com/attachments/general-scanning-discussion/13425d1201360481-aluminum-foil-protective_suit.jpg

Re:It's debatable that you can (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 10 months ago | (#45568703)

It would be easy, if the databases used by such services were outlawed.

Privacy as laziness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568851)

I think of that as inertia, that in fact was deliberately built into some systems (the US gov't, with its designed-for-inefficiency model), and I agree that it is no longer a viable option. You can see lawmakers the world over fail to realise that when they come up with privacy laws that simply say "you can't do that!" when in fact that finding and collating of information is now easy to do, hard to detect whether it's being done, and very profitable to do even when detected and fined.

Yes, I agree with the need for a re-think. Or rather a dozen or more. Thing is, it reaches down to the basic assumptions built into just about the entire infrastructure of administration and record keeping. And it's painfully obvious most specialists, who ought to know since they're building the new generations of digital systems to replace the paperwork-based ones, haven't noticed in the least that the rug has been well and truly pulled from under their customary model.

If this doesn't frighten you, it should.

Re:It's debatable that you can (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 10 months ago | (#45569419)

also, don't use Google, since they can always watch your referer tags and see 3/4 of your pages that way.

It's trivial to spoof or remove referrer tags, but you'll discover it breaks some websites in interesting ways.

You don't (0)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 10 months ago | (#45568337)

It's over, Johnny. It's over...

What has to be done then, is the opposite. Deny privacy to everybody... Make the whole world completely and absolutely transparent. Make information worth nothing, where the main reaction is, "eh".. Just don't let anything be used against you. The word has no power, only the act.

Re:You don't (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568427)

But you can't prevent things from being used against you.

The homosexual cannot prevent people from lynching him because he's homosexual. All he can do is try to prevent people from learning he's gay.

The same is true of any other discriminated minority.

Re:You don't (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568619)

What has to be done then, is the opposite. Deny privacy to everybody... Make the whole world completely and absolutely transparent.

This is not as crazy as it sounds - what if the NSA would release all phone contacts for conngresscritters and CEOs; IRS release all it's banking info? Should prove to provide for some interesting data mining... If we are going to be in fishbowl, the big fish should also.

Re:You don't (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 10 months ago | (#45569327)

If we are going to be in fishbowl, the big fish should also.

Apparently the mods disagree. They'd rather carry on with this little charade. They don't see that every anomaly and 'disturbance' is recorded and can be traced to a source. It is so naive to believe that there is any 'privacy'. The only argument left is what can be done with the info. Right now we give it too much power to too few people. So I'm always for those who can leak it all. Time for those who make the rules to feel the pain.

Check your sources? (1)

feitingen (889125) | about 10 months ago | (#45568341)

Heck; off-the-shelf tech can see you through your walls.

If you actually read the article you linked, you could find out that it's custom made hardware made from components which may be used in a wi-fi device, that's not the same as off-the-shelf.
FTFA:

"All the components we use are ones typically used in a Wi-Fi handheld device," she said.

Wi-Vi transmits two Wi-Fi signals, one of which is the inverse of the other.

Off-the-shelf stuff can't do this, but with components similar to that you can.

How tin-foil-hat do you wanna be? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568347)

Using cash is a start. Not far beyond that is switching buses constantly and hiding your face from cameras; pretty soon you're milking your own goats.

Who needs friends .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568351)

This is more of a concern for people in the real world. Friends and public security cameras aren't much of concern here. I suspect the few of us that have friends aren't going to have friends who will take photos of us during our late night coding sessions. As far as security cameras are concerned, they generally only apply if you leave your house. In my experience, going outside causes one to get out of the zone for code writing or debugging so I try to avoid it whenever possible. It takes too long to get back into the zone. And as far as strangers are concerned ....Well the only strangers I know of are the Jehovah's Witnesses that come to the door to interrupting my coding session. Usually they don't carry cameras.

Decentralize power (0)

Kohath (38547) | about 10 months ago | (#45568353)

Since you can't hide from the people who want to hurt you, that leaves only 2 options:

1. Be the most powerful person, so no one else would dare try to hurt you because you'd hurt them a lot worse in return. Or
2. Work with others to create a society where no one has enough power to do you much harm. This means carefully limiting all centralized power, especially including the government -- the only power that will send armed men to your house and take you away for disobeying them. Other centralized power structures should also be limited as much as possible.

Those were my photons! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568359)

Those photons that bounced off of me and hit your camera? They were mine. All mine. And someday, I'm going to figure out how to keep you from stealing them.

Googling: Black Body Raincoat Deal Black Friday

It's too late now. (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 10 months ago | (#45568417)

The only thing to do is to use misdirection and misleading information to those that collects data if you can't bounce them with stuff like AdBlock or do not call registry.

Always buy zip-ties and vaseline at the same time. If someone asks - then buy some candy too and tell them that they don't want to know.

Zip-ties are great when doing some work on your car, vaseline protects electrical connectors and candy is there to keep the blood sugar up for those times when you have been working on the car for too long without food.

First, disconnect. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568435)

This means no cell phone, no computer, no credit cards,
no bank accounts, and no fixed address.

It can be done, but few are willing to actually do it.

This article is not even going to be read or commented on by
people who are protecting their own privacy, because they will
never see it or care about it.

This general direction (1)

Let's All Be Chinese (2654985) | about 10 months ago | (#45568457)

Not give information out. Keep it to yourself. With or without technological aid.

The individual trying this out either has to lie a lot (give false information) or risk standing out. That is, in the current environment.

To make this possible we need our systems (in the broadest sense of the word, so a government keeping records is a "system") to change the working assumptions. For many things you still "need" to give your name when in fact there is no need intrinsic to the function, only convenience, usually for somebody else, like law enforcement. This "convenience" carries risks itself, so it is long term all around better to get rid of it.

How you'd do this? Well, change the assumptions, change the laws, change how we organise things. Only after that does technology come into play.

And that technology? Authentication systems that aren't inevitably tied to just one possible identity per person and certainly not systems depending on some selection out of a small number of possible passwords per person with no redress possible, and also not systems that depend on a limited subset of "identity providers", reducing everyone else in the system to second class citizens.

Come up with designs that address those, and more shortcomings, that empower instead of subjugate. You might even consider deploying DRM around packed-up identity information, giving control back to the owner. Better yet, don't give the information away at all, for example using zero knowledge proofs. There are plenty of tricks ("technologies") and we are employing far too few of them.

Even the simple act of not requiring everyone to use the same database key for completely unrelated databases is, so far, too hard, and that needs to change. I could go on, but this ought to suffice for now.

While there is no single silver bullet, there is a clear general direction how we need to change our current systems, how we need to change our very thoughts and assumptions to keep a tenable society. Notice that everything so far governments and corporations have produced and are producing, fail at the very first of assumptions. A good case in point is "NSTIC", who were warned of these issues yet, as is evident in the design, chose to ignore the warnings.

There are several categories, not all uncontrolled (1)

davecb (6526) | about 10 months ago | (#45568483)

There are truly out-of-control entities, such as criminal gangs, but most snoops have to obey laws, and if they are businesses generally chose to do as a cost-avoidance strategy (;-))

This large group of commercial snoops are currently trying to capture as many unhappy people as they can, and within a few years are in line for a harsh slapping about from enraged politicians: see the UK for a picture of what happens when newspapers crack people's cell phones. Now imagine what response you get when they start losing snooped credit card numbers.

Amex is already sensitive to this and related problems seen by their customers, and will issue short-term and single-use credit card numbers for transactions with doubtful merchants. I have every expectation that they will be asked to offer "avatar" cards, and after hemming and hawing, will issue me a card in my pen name, after taking some steps to make sure they can't be blamed if I'm the crook, not the merchant.

Given that, I'll have an avatar on steam with the ability to buy and sell things without exposing who I am. People named "John Smith" already have lots of avatars, all of whom think they're the real John Smith. This will do nicely for anything on-line or credit-card-centric.

Physical presence and photos are a different problem: we have weak laws about what used to be called "database matching", and we may need laws against keeping photos of me paying with a credit card any longer than it takes for the credit to clear. Of course, if I "pay" with a shotgun, I have to expect the pictures to be kept until they're thrown my ass in jail (:-))

Retaining data, and using it without the permission of the person who provided it has been a problem since the printing press was invented. Public libraries found that the were being asked for patron's reading histories, and created the now common policy of retaining the patron-book relationship only until the book was returned or replaced.

Private photos and lifelogs are harder to manage, but less harmful, as there are so very many of them, and are private to that person...

--dave

Few Tried and True Methods. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568485)

1: Put your cash in a safe and buy a few guns. Hackers and Banksters can't steal it if it's in a safe. Additionally thieves are probably going to pass by a well-hidden safe bolted into the furniture or house structure. If you're scared of a corrupt police force, hidden camera's can be installed anywhere.

2: There are several identity-wipe services available online to take you off of sites like Pipl or Spookeo. Engage them; if you're afraid of identity theft this helps, if you're afraid of psychotic boyfriends, it helps even more.

3: If you don't want your purchases being tracked, pay in cash.

4: If you're going to buy something unsultry online and don't want to be tracked, use pre-paid credit cards bought with cash.

5: I somehow doubt the NSA is buying enough disks to store a decade's worth of internet traffic, but if you're afraid of that, hidemyass.com and proxomitron, or use good proxying agents.

6: Use multiple identities when working online, don't let them cross over to each other.

7: Make sure you have a strong, easily findable professional profile online if you need one. Linked-in is good for this.

8: Use a password Vault for online profiles that use long passwords. Change the passwords to your online accounts once per year. Backup your vault regularly to encrypted flash or optical disk. I use WinZIP with AES256.

9: Employ Disk Encryption and regularly backup your data to an in-house NAS system.

Re:Few Tried and True Methods. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45569019)

hidemyass.com LOL Follow the money.

A: lie (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about 10 months ago | (#45568499)

Q: How do you protect your ass-cherry from prison rape?

A: don't go to prison.

Try and change the law. (2)

gallondr00nk (868673) | about 10 months ago | (#45568515)

Most of the submitter's issues stem from inadequecies in the law. Drones, CCTV etc. can't really be fought with technological measures. Outlawing invasive behaviours (or having strict rules over their use) seems the only option.

Yes, our technology enables easy mass surveillance. Does that mean we simply accept it? Do we accept a future where those with the most technology and money simply do whatever the fuck they want? That seems to be the conclusion of a lot of people.

It's a long shot, especially when government seems so authoritarian and adversarial to the populace, but I'd suggest it to be the only solution.

Keep pushing (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 10 months ago | (#45568561)

If well it may be pretty hard or near impossible to get 100% privacy, trying to get as close as possible (or at least, at the point you draw the line) worth it. And that is a process, not a static destination.

One word (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568569)

Berka

Tinfoil Hats (4, Funny)

fred911 (83970) | about 10 months ago | (#45568621)

And for the TSA, lead condoms with scrotum wings.

One word: twerking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568623)

Then people will react to info about you by yelling, "G** Dammit, I don't f******g care about "

keep a low profile (3, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | about 10 months ago | (#45568697)

There's something to be said for blending into the background, being "down in the noise", not being whomever they're looking for. Pay cash when possible. (It's still allowed, although maybe not for too much longer.) Be less distinctive in appearance. Build up a really boring persona. Don't make it worth anyone's time to follow you.

Practice safe computing. I think this is probably more important than CCTVs everywhere. Don't open or click on anything unless you know exactly what it is. If you must do porn or warez, do it on a virtual machine, not the same one on which you do your banking and pay your utilities.

Beware of social engineering. It works so well that I would be really surprised if it were not used as a surveillance tactic.

But in general, just be uninteresting.

Re:keep a low profile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568919)

You are winning at life, good sir!

Mr. Wizard, I don't wanna be surveilled anymore! (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about 10 months ago | (#45568709)

I think the problem for many people is that the privacy horse left the barn a long time ago; you'd need a time machine to send yourself a note in the past telling yourself to implement procedures and countermeasure back then so that you'd be protected today. Much like the Internet doesn't forget, neither does the databases of governments and corporations; once they've got information on someone, they're not going to delete it, ever. The goal would have been to prevent any information about yourself being collected in the first place.

Going forward, I'm not sure how much damage control can be done. In the real world (i.e. non-internet), there are places where you simply must use your real name and real information, and there's nothing you can do about that. If it's interaction with government agencies, well, we've all collectively screwed the pooch a long time ago in that area, and thanks so much to so many people who voted away our rights to privacy for hollow promises of "security" that nobody can realistically deliver.. but I digress. Limit your exposure/interaction with government agencies as much as possible? Best I can do there. It took decades to dismantle privacy in this country, and it'll take decades to recover it. Banking/financial institutions, legal matters, entering into contractural agreements with any company or corporation (even something as simple as wireless service)? You've got to use your real name and information for those; best you can do there is to be sure who you're dealing with, and see some legal disclaimers in writing that state what your collected information will be used for. Things like "rewards" clubs (Safeway, Walgreens, etc) and organizations like Costco and Sams Club? Someone may correct me on this, but even something as simple as a Safeway rewards club card is entering into a legal contract with Safeway, and I believe that there must be a privacy agreement associated with that, which (believe it or not) people who work at Safeway may never have even seen; just accepting the card itself could be considered your consent to terms of a contract and privacy (or lack thereof) agreement that you never knew existed, and it may well entitle Safeway to collect information on you and your purchasing habits that they otherwise aren't legally allowed to do; same goes for Costco, Sams Club, etc. Healthcare companies? HIPAA is supposed to protect you, but yes the devil is in the (implementation) details, isn't it? They can claim they're HIPAA compliant, and that you're 100% safe, but they can also completely bungle everything (like we've all read about in the news more than once in the last few years) and some asshat scammer has your (and 100,000 other people's) very personal, private data. If someone else has an idea what you can do about this, I'd like to hear it; all hospitals and doctors offices collect data on you in order to treat you medically; I suppose you could insist they keep no records of you, and instead put everything on a flash drive you provide for them -- except most hospitals have IT policies against using portable flash drives for anything. Keeping your friends or strangers from taking pictures of you and posting them somewhere? Speaking from experience, you may have to go so far as alienating some of your friends and acquaintances, who may not share your views on privacy, and think that you're just being a jerk for no reason. Also, how can you control the actions of others? You can't. Airport security/TSA scrutiny? Don't fly anywhere. Rally to the cause of people who want to dismantle the TSA, write your congresscritter, sign petitions, etc. to make the TSA go away, or at least get reigned in to the point where they're not on track to become the Secret Police.

There are too many things going on this this world for me to address here. The best advice I can give is to stay aware and not stick your head in the sand. It seems like every day there are more and more instances of some government agency or corporation making free with people's privacy. Televisions that send data on your viewing habits back to the manufacturer; video games that have a camera and microphone as part of their interface, and that requires an Internet connection in order to function at all (do I need to draw a picture for that one?); "smart" electric meters and "smart" appliances, both of which could, if they became ubiquitos, used to track people's living habits; insurance companies wanting to put GPS tracking devices in people's cars in exchange for a (paltry) discount; the list goes on and on. Most people seem to be oblivious to the implications of these sorts of things because they lack a healthy amount of paranoia; they're getting some sort of benefit from things, but they don't stop to consider the implications of what else could be going on. Probably the best defense of your privacy is to acquire a healthy level of paranoia and situational awareness, and be thoughtful about how something or a situation could be used against you. Good luck trying to convince people they should do the same, though! It's a shitty way to have to live, but that's the hand we've been given now; the Social Contract we once had has been broken, and until if and when it can be re-affirmed on all sides, one must simply be wary, understand how technology works and can be used to violate your privacy, and ask questions of anyone who wants your information.

Re:Mr. Wizard, I don't wanna be surveilled anymore (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 months ago | (#45569009)

well you could start by lobbying with some laws to limit db's about persons.. start by catching up to the eu laws on it.

which is really the answer to the question: by political action.

Re:Mr. Wizard, I don't wanna be surveilled anymore (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about 10 months ago | (#45569369)

which is really the answer to the question: by political action.

Actually as I see it the real problem is convincing enough people that the whole thing matters enough for them to get involved politically over it.

Revenge (1)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 10 months ago | (#45568869)

It is not possible to protect your privacy anymore. However you may be able to find the source of a leak and take legal action. Keep a ledger and put one piece of data on every site that is different and record when and where you did that. For example if you put data that says you earn $75.500 per annum on one site and that number crops up elsewhere you can know who leaked it. You can also spell out a supposed middle name unique to every site. If the initial of your middle name is A then be Alfred on one site and Albert on the next. Your birth date can be one day different across many sites. One day you may get mail or a phone call that returns a bit of false data. Then get your lawyer busy.

Re:Revenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45569155)

I got an ad from a local politician addressed to me and my significant other. Funny my significant other shares the exact same name. Must come from the time I married myself on facebook.

is simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45568899)

1. Live in basement and have no friends
2. Wear burka in public
3. ???
4. Profit!

Sniffing Skin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45569131)

Airport security sniffs your skin.

All hell break loose if they error sniffing hair.

Build a Better Society (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 months ago | (#45569203)

I know it's difficult when there are so many people who don't give one tenth of one fuck about anyone but themselves, but build a better society, one in which we aren't all looking up each other's arseholes with flashlights unless we're doing a rectal examination. Do anything you can to make the world a better place, and that will have the long-term effects of reducing surveillance.

You also have to convince at least two other people to do the same, if you really want this to take off... And them, as well, and so on. Eventually, that requirement can be eliminated.

Now, if we can just agree on what we should do...

Asking the wrong question (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 10 months ago | (#45569273)

It's not about denying personal information to others, it's about how they use or misuse it once they have it - and making sure they only get the stuff you want them to have.

You can start by decreasing the amount of data you give away, for free. A second step would be to start reading the EULAs, Ts & Cs, and other annoyances that come between you and ACCEPT and make wiser decisions about which ones you choose. You can falsify some stuff with impunity (does that website really need you phone number or address - or will any random selection of words and numbers do) and you can start using cash again and having multiple bank and credit card accounts (but don't veer into the world of fraud). Just be aware that you'll never shake off the determined tracker / stalker, but hey: you don't have to make it easy for them, either.

Other than that, cultivate a nickname, nom de plume, start using your mother's maiden name, or just become known in all your social circles as JACKSON. You could also make sure you give your children very, very common names - rather than trying to be unique (like everyone else), so that name searches will throw up so many hits that hand-checking is impractical.

Apart from that, make sure you have several varied social media accounts (if you really must have any at all) rather than just the stipulated one - and grow a beard, if you can.

Back to the future (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about 10 months ago | (#45569317)

I doubt very much that most people had much in the way of "privacy" through most of history. Your average Joe in a tribe or village ... well, his neighbors knew what he was doing, and who with, approximately all of the time.

I happen to like the brief window of modern higher privacy that we had, don't get me wrong ... just saying that it was something of an aberration.

How about CCTVs? (1)

ruir (2709173) | about 10 months ago | (#45569349)

Is it worthwhile to use baseballs caps and dark glasses to foil face recognition technology?

Re:How about CCTVs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45569451)

Not sure how safe infra red is for your eyes.
http://www.abrutis.com/video-lunettes+anti+paparazzi-11937.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/designers-trying-to-help-people-fight-government-surveillance/2013/08/15/824faf84-0533-11e3-88d6-d5795fab4637_gallery.html

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