Protecting yourself from the U.S.A. – Also, random updates

I find myself more and more freaked out by how totalitarian the US Government and various agencies below it is becoming. The word ‘Terrorist’ is being used as a catch-all definition to justify actions and place blame.
Our country is falling apart very fast – Some examples:

  • The introduction of SOPA and PIPA and their subsequent shelving after the internet blackout on Jan 18, 2012 – and then that was followed with a US Gov takedown of Megaupload one day later.
  • NYPD and Pentagon to place mobile scanners on the streets on NYC
  • Drones cleared for domestic use across the US
  • Obama signing the National Defense Authorization Act on New Year’s Eve, which allows the US to detain Americans suspected of terrorism indefinitely without due process.
  • Our upcoming war with Iran
  • I can’t really do much about most of this. In fact, I can’t really do anything except make sure I have what I need. And what I need is my privacy and personal security. I don’t commit any crimes or engage in any ‘nefarious’ activities, but I don’t trust our government entities to care about me in any way. If a police officer wanted to detain me for any reason, say for jaywalking and he or she happens to be corrupt or just having a really bad day, they can basically say the word “terrorist” and I’m F’d.

    For that and other reasons, I have decided to increase my use of privacy enhancing tools and procedures to protect myself from any nonsense. I’m looking into removing most of my life from the google cloud (and actually, any cloud at all). My actual online social life is only to be a small piece of my real life. I don’t want to be data mined, profiled or predictable. I believe in protecting my data, my desires, my beliefs, my words and people I care about as well as organizations I work with.
    This may sound all sorts of paranoid, but I don’t think it is. It’s sensible these days.
    It’s important to keep your private info private so no one can use it against you or obtain it – that includes the bad people who might hack your stuff and it includes the good and bad people working under the bad USA laws.

    One of the definitions of terrorist these days, according to the Department of Homeland Security is someone who uses cash instead of credit cards for most purchases.
    With ridiculousness such as that, it’s best to go on the offensive with safeguarding your identity and sovereignty.

    Here’s a list of some of the things I’m doing:

  • Using cash more
  • Encrypting everything
  • Removing everything from gmail
  • Minimizing the things I own and limiting how much I purchase (this helps to simplify things)
  • Staying unpredictable with the times and ways I go places (I do this anyway just because I get bored)

    I don’t think anyone is actually out to get me. I’m just one of billions of people on the planet. However, we should do our best to protect ourselves.

    I have some ideas on helping others achieve the goal of doing what they may feel is right. I’m not a member of anonymous or affiliated with any protest groups. I still do work in the corporate world protecting corporate clients. However, my interests align with others at times and I want to find ways to give people more choices. So far, some ideas I’ve had are:

    A very small computer disguised as a tree branch or a rock or something that can be hidden somewhere.
    It’s weatherproof and uses solar power to recharge it’s batteries. As soon as it’s switched on, it attempts to crack any networks it finds. Once online, it makes itself known in some way and is then available as a proxy server for anyone behind censored networks.
    This project requires access to cheap and small hardware. Fortunately, I found this: The Rasberry PI. It looks like it may have potential.

    A distributed communication system for mobile devices.
    I imagine that it would normally work like twitter, posting updates to a central server. But there would be an additional mode where an entire database of all the posts are kept on any device running the software. When the connection to the server is disrupted, it seeks out other systems running the software within a certain radius (using wifi). When it finds another system using the software, the databases on both systems are synced up. That way, if there’s a large group of people who are protesting something and they need to communicate, they can regardless of network coverage or censorship.

    A way to auto-encrypt all existing email on a server – hopefully on gmail.
    This would encrypt all saved mail and any new mail that comes in. There would be a moment where the mail first arrives in gmail and it’s unencrypted, but still…this could be a fun programming project.

    How to really be untraceable when doing online activities
    I think a lot about the things that lead back to a person in online activities and how the breadcrumb can be stopped.


    Ok…

    Other things since my last update. I’ve done or am doing the following:

  • Left my job working at NASA and joined a company called Mandiant. I’m still doing network and computer security.
  • Went to Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna and Salzburg over the holidays (Will be posting about this soon).
  • Have travelled so much in the last 4 months that I’ve been on 14 planes!
  • Shaved my head, still have the moustache and grew a beard (to keep my face warm while travelling).
  • Bought a cheap, 25 year old motorcycle, took the motorcycle safety course and got my license updated all in a 3 week period in September.
  • Learning German and re-learning French.
  • Learning Python
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