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How to be anonymous in the age of surveillance (seattletimes.com)
237 points by wallflower on Jan 12, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 141 comments

The article mentions the use of "Juggalo" style face paint to avoid face detection. This type of countermeasure is effective against conventional HOG-SVM type face detectors such as [1], but would be inadvisable for daily use.

To deal with more advanced convolutional detectors, consider wearing a hat or clothing with adversarial patches [2], simple patterns that can be printed onto stickers. These patches work by feeding the detector inputs that cause an overwhelming bias toward a particular class (eg. toaster), which drowns out the real signal (eg. human face). Even the first generation of adversarial patches are effective against most detectors deployed as of 2020.

[1] http://dlib.net/face_landmark_detection.py.html

[2] Brown et al. https://arxiv.org/abs/1712.09665

A lot of these CV hacks work only on existing tech. If I a human can still recognize a face then it is almost certain that a better CV tool can. The bulletproof method is to wear clothing that entirely covers your face religious style clothing comes to mind. Total face covering may not be totally socially acceptable in your area but it almost certainly is more acceptable than dazzle makeup.

A fairly casual setup that looks pretty acceptable is to be riding/walking with a bike, helmet on, sunglasses on and a bandana covering the face (This is normal to stop bugs).

> The bulletproof method is to wear clothing that entirely covers your face religious style

There are no methods that will remain bulletproof, for determined adversaries / state actors. Biometric gait analysis can potentially defeat facial camouflage, and the technology will continue to improve, especially as it becomes more widespread in non-surveillance applications, e.g. athletics and fitness

See discussion in other comments here

Covering your face/gait/etc also doesn't matter if someone can autonomously track the "faceless blob" from your house, to everywhere you go, and back to your house again.

We're getting pretty close to that in some countries. Even in the USA where camera density isn't particularly high - there are so many cities where you cannot get around without using a car. After California eliminated the Steve Jobs license plate law, there's no place where using a car isn't fairly well tracked. With ALPR, Uber/Taxi records...I don't personally see how you can get around a city like Houston or Phoenix without either:

1) Being tracked from your house 2) Breaking the law (covering license plate, stealing car, etc)

Unless I've grossly overestimated the prevalence of ALPR's. I'm assuming there's quite a lot of undocumented ones.

Baltimore police were using this in 2016 without telling the public: https://www.pss-1.com/ Who needs ALPRs when you have a flying all-seeing eye?

I remember reading in 2016 that this system or another like it was being used in another US city. There don’t appear to be any rules around disclosure, and the costs will only decrease. It could be used in dozens or hundreds of cities already.

>Covering your face/gait/etc also doesn't matter if someone can autonomously track the "faceless blob" from your house, to everywhere you go, and back to your house again.

For a lot of people this wouldn't be super accurate since they will only see you to the front door but won't know what level you are on.

Probably a bit much to deal with everyday, but - what about a line of shoes that have varying heights, angles and weights? Or even a single pair of high-tech shoes that automatically randomize these elements every 24 hours.

You're probably better off just throwing a pebble or two at random spots in your shoe. Random height/angles are most likely going to fuck with your joints and just make it too hard to move efficiently, while a pebble or two will be annoying but tolerable and should be enough to change your gait up.

I remember in the Bourne Identity (book), the main character puts a rock in his shoe, which forced him to change his gait to not be noticed by surveillance. I wouldn't be surprised if something like that were effective in real life.

I imagine these would wreak havoc on your joints though.

>A lot of these CV hacks work only on existing tech

This is true for every countermeasure for every tech. Total covering of the face may be temporarily effective as well. Who knows, maybe it will become impossible to find a bike helmet that isn't connected to the internet with sensors inside it.

Tech already exists to track people by gait, and experimentally by tracking your heartbeat via infrared laser, or so it's claimed.

Oh yeah, was thinking about gait. I don't doubt this at all. The heartbeat thing, I hadn't heard of though. Thanks.

The bike approach would only work if you have a standardised setup.

In the UK I recall at least one motorcyclist that has been tracked down after setting off cameras at silly speeds with a blocked license plate via helmet + bike + location.


> now you know why "burka bans" and other similar bans on face covering garments have been put into law in a lot of countries

It's probably more because in countries where people are used to having an exposed face they feel uncomfortable seeing someone fully covered at all times. Since humans recognize each other almost exclusively by face (you may rely on voice or even smell but not in a crowded space) and that's our most relatable feature, it's also the one that will make people feel a bit uneasy. Full face masks are usually associated with crime so it will take a while before people think "oh, they must be privacy conscious".

One major sticking point from law enforcement perspective (at least in countries that have some semblance of privacy) wasn't that the face is covered but rather that sometimes those wearing it for religious reasons refused to take it off when requested, like when being stopped for a traffic offense.

These issues only caused social unrest and that's something to avoid. In the meantime you can successfully fool pretty much all CV systems with a hat and glasses, and maybe add some carefully crafted patterns just to make sure. None of these are outlawed.

> It's probably more because in countries where people are used to having an exposed face they feel uncomfortable seeing someone fully covered at all times.

Enacting new laws and bans simply because some people "feel uncomfortable" is highly irresponsible.

In my country, there are AFAIK fewer than 500 people wearing burkas or niqabs, ie. face-covering veils commonly associated with Islam. For burkas alone, the number is estimated to be fewer than 50, in the entire country. Only a subset of those would refuse to remove their veils when asked by a police officer, especially if said police officer is female and some amount of privacy could be established.

Making sweeping legislation that affects the entire population, based on populist nationalist politicians drumming up xenophobia and fear of the Other, is profoundly unsound. Especially since people can (and have) already been fined for refusing to comply with orders given by the police.

The end result is that those women wearing veils under pressure from their husbands, will be forced to stay at home, by threat of fines.

> you can successfully fool pretty much all CV systems with a hat and glasses, and maybe add some carefully crafted patterns just to make sure. None of these are outlawed.

Big sunglasses cover your eyes, full-face masks (balaclavas) are worn in winter, people cover their faces with scarves when it's windy and cold/dusty.

The legislation in my country is written so any kind of face covering garment is illegal, if a police officer deems that it is being worn to conceal one's identity, and no other "allowable" circumstances exist. In effect, it gives the police free reign to enforce the law as they please, and where they please.

E: I don't disagree with your explanation for why it has been done, by populist right-wing politicians. My post does read a little confrontational, that wasn't really my intention, I realize we probably generally agree on this subject.

It's probably more because in countries where people are used to having an exposed face they feel uncomfortable seeing someone fully covered at all times.

It's because burkhas are considered a repressive way of controlling women and making them submissive to, rather than equal to men.

Ironically, since applying the force of law to dictate how these women may dress does not release them from control and repression. Freedom must be cultivated.

Right... when statistically speaking 1 in 3 women in the EU experienced various forms of physical violence by a partner or by other persons (with France having some of the highest rates in Europe) [0] I'm sure all men are really appalled at the repressive aspects of the burka.

In reality very few people ever consider this aspect of the clothing. The bans mostly prohibit covering the face and do nothing to remove the repressive aspect.

All most people see is a fully covered face and that makes them feel uneasy and make Islamophobic associations with religion or terrorism, as highlighted by most surveys [1][2][3][4][5]. None of the surveys suggests an interest in the repressive aspect. In the same survey where over 80% of Germans wanted to have the burka banned, 25% "said the most pressing topic was domestic security and the fight against terrorism, just 12 percent view migrant integration as a priority".

People just want to see the face to feel lees uneasy, or simply to remove "foreign, invading" symbols. The laws were put in place to appease said social unrest and a good hint of that is that they are usually proposed and very strongly supported by populist and right-wing parties who surely only look after the well being of women.

The conviction you put in your statement is not supported by reality. And I'm not talking about official justification that has to look good in the media but the real situation on the ground.

[0] https://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra-2014-vaw-surve...

[1] https://www.dw.com/en/survey-germans-want-a-burqa-ban/a-1950...

[2] https://www.thelocal.dk/20170929/majority-of-danes-want-to-b...

[3] https://sciencenorway.no/clothing-forskningno-norway/norwegi...

[4] https://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/swiss-in-favor-of-burqa...

[5] https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/can-europe-make-it/banning-...

The article only describes extremely ideal conditions. Use 'in the wild' is still untested, from what I understand. Also, I don't think they provided any code to generate the disguised version of the adversarial patches.

What happens once the training data includes these adversarial patches? Wouldn't the AI learn to detect them accurately?

Yes. In fact, including adversarial examples can be a great regularization technique, which leads to a system learning much more natural representations.

I presume new ones could be created based on the newer generation of surveillance tech, which would then become obsolete and the cycle would restart until the tech is sophisticated enough to not be bothered by them. At that point, more complex means would have to be developed.

Juggalo face paint might throw off an algorithm, but it definitely won't make you go about your day unnoticed...

It's like being "burned to recognition"... you totally would be with that face paint.

Some "cameras" can get an accurate image of your body under your clothes... the TSA uses some of those and it's probably only a matter of time before everyone has access to them. What we need is legislation to limit the use of theses technologies.

Once always-on AR glasses are ubiquitous, people could attach accessories and frills to them to make sort of neo-tribal-masks.

Good luck wearing those and not being tracked though. It's very likely more important to not carry connected technology with you than to cover your face...

Easy: don't recharge them ;-)

heh, I mean in the 21st century a corporate logo is already enough for that. But I like the idea.

Change your gait, too. Walk with a cane.

You can apply for a grant to develop a new gait at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ministry_of_Silly_Walks

You’d need to change your cane and you might just develop a new gait based on the cane. Maybe learn to walk like a Fremen.

Put a little stone in your shoe every once in a while. It'll change your gait for you at the cost of discomfort whenever you walk.

This tactic is used in _Little Brother_ by Cory Doctorow.

I can no longer tell if this is serious advice.

CIA chief of disguise, at 4m35s:


Make a cane which changes in length every 3-5 minutes via a small internal piston.

Is there any evidence that mass scale gait analysis is done anywhere? Or is this just paranoia about something that could happen, perhaps in the future?

There's no telling what type of data analysis might be possible in the future when applied to historical data.

Its allegedly been trialed/used in china for a few years now. First quality result https://www.privacy-ticker.com/chinese-police-uses-gait-reco...

No evidence but anyone could do it right now on the numerous public cctv feeds and even more plentiful non-public feeds on shodan

Not exactly gait, but this helps you identify individuals based on movement patterns: https://gitlab.com/polavieja_lab/idtrackerai

Yeah I would imagine that gait analysis is not anywhere near 99.9% accurate.

Faceblind people routinely use things like gait to recognize people.

Some people have very distinctive gaits. When I was married to a soldier, I could pick him out of a sea of men in identical uniforms from the back based on his gait.

I'm slightly face-blind (have trouble remembering faces) and it is not substituted with any other cues. Also bad at names. Really sometimes I will just get super confused and surprised. It is occasionally embarrassing.

I guess I should have explicitly said "some" faceblind people. It wasn't intended to implicitly suggest "all" by not saying that.

Edit: Can people not downvote that comment? I'm pretty confident it wasn't intended to be fighty. It was just a faceblind person wanting to talk about a topic they know personally. Goodness.

I'm having a shit day. Blame Me instead.

Thank you.

I think it extends to more than just walking. I snowboard as much as I can during the winter, and I can reliably pick out people I know from extreme distances just by how they ride. The posture, size of the person, and other traits all add together to be a fairly unique signature.

I don't think any identifier used is really 99.9% accurate. Even DNA tests, a 1 in 1000 chance is probably far below the amount caused by human error.

Reminds me of the story "Understand" by Ted Chiang. The protagonist gains super intelligence, and subsequently becomes a person of interest for the feds. One of his tactics to hide his identity was to change his gait and overall demeanor.

> These patches work by feeding the detector inputs that cause an overwhelming bias toward a particular class (eg. toaster)

self driving cars probably wouldn't try too hard to dodge a toaster.

They will if it's large enough.

Cars avoid obstacles. They don't need to identify individuals.

What about straight up covering your whole head e.g. burka, niqab

Relevant xkcd: https://xkcd.com/1105/

It should be pointed out that the various accessories mentioned in the article primarily serve to make a statement, they do not actually provide any kind of practical anonymity from competent surveillance infrastructure. Robust anonymity can't be created via technical means.

>> Robust anonymity can't be created via technical means.

That defeatist attitude is what they want us to believe. Those doing the surveillance want to do it easily. If thinking that resistance is futile means you don't bother doing anything, then you are an easier item to monetize.

The reality is that we live in an age of amazing privacy tools. I can talk to someone on the other side of the planet totally anonymously. That wasn't possible until just over a decade ago (Tor). I can encrypt my data in a way that all the computers of the world working for billions of years could not decrypt (strong encryption). People used to put their lives on the line, risk being killed, to move such communications across boarders. And these tools are open source, under regular and public examination internationally. Adblockers and lower-level in-browser privacy tricks are also commonplace. So too companies dedicated to online privacy (VPN providers). They used to be illegal. Privacy-focused Linux distros abound. There might be more people looking at us, but this is a golden age for privacy if you care enough to actually try.

Those IR-emitting glasses really do work against 99% of cameras (the ones without mechanical irises). They are a powerful tool. What you will quickly learn is which places are really being watched, rather than simply recorded. You won't get 20 feet into a casino with them.

I don't take it as defeatist: They are implying that it requires political means not technical means to solve it.

That's how I read it as well. Peter Sunde (Pirate Bay founder) has made similar statements about improving copyright: (paraphrasing) All the technical workarounds in the world don't change the fact that certain actions remain illegal, and the only thing that can change that is politics and law.

If you don't want to have to wear facepoint and glasses made of special materials, and clothes with specially designed patches, then write to your local politician to push for regulation of public surveillance.

At this point, the IR glasses mostly flag you as unusual.

The other privacy tools that you mention are all online. And, I argue, that's the only option now for anonymity.

I mean, how do you get around DNA testing?

You'd get a bone marrow transplant.

from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/12/science/chimera-bone-marr...:

"A recent article about a highly unconventional experiment involving a man who had received a bone marrow transplant has raised some questions for readers of The New York Times.

Four years after the lifesaving procedure, all the DNA in the patient’s semen had been replaced by that of his donor. This came as a surprise to forensic scientists at the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department in Reno, Nev., studying the case."

That's likely very expensive and painful. And probably very hard to manage without leaving quite the paper trail.

It also occurs after kidney transplants[1].

Not really arguing this is practical for anonymoisation - it's more an interesting fact.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18290564

> Robust anonymity can't be created via technical means.

Perhaps, but it can be easily lost by via technical means.


Anonymity in meatspace is arguably a dead issue.

Whenever I leave the house, I assume that I'm under surveillance. So I just act normal.

Edit: In particular, I play "harmless old man".

>So I just act normal.

Cardinal Richelieu: "Ah. And so, how do you act when you're not being watched?" [0]

[0] https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/cardinal_richelieu_183310

However it pleases me.

Well that's the point, isn't it?

If you knew that no surveillance was being conducted, would you be acting any differently?

Remember when answering that they know your IP address.

They know an IP address. But, without a ridiculous amount of work, not my IP address.

But anyway, the thing is that I do know that I'm under surveillance at least some of the time. So I might as well assume that it's all of the time. Because it's hard to know.

And sadly enough, I won't even speak freely with my wife, unless she's turned off her cellphone, or put it in the utility closet or bathroom, with the water running.

wow. why wouldn't I talk freely. and yes I talk about a lot that could be used to construct a case against me if some state(like) actor would want to.

So let them. actually I am still hoping for the day at least the US puts me on a no entry list. I would see this as a badge of honor.

Most people would act no differently most of the time but it's the exceptions that matter.

Possibly, but who would know?


For example, two decades ago I was ~comfortable driving a couple hundred km to a mall, and buying a gift card for cash. Or mailing cash in the mail. I drove back roads, avoided toll bridges, and didn't carry a cellphone.

I wouldn't do that now.

Sorry, but "comfortable" in what way?

That going through such steps migh assure some privacy?

Or that you'd take such measures as a matter of routine?

Or that you could do that without raising suspicions, or possibly being flagged / recorded in some manner despite (or on account of) the precautions?

Or ... ?

(Moral is not clear.)

The moral is that being ~anonymous in meatspace has become very difficult.

So yes, I'm no longer comfortable assuming that such steps would guarantee any privacy. And yes, I'd also worry that at least parts of the process would be recorded. And the harder I tried to obfuscate, the more likely it'd raise suspicions.

I do worry about using a VPN. But that's not too uncommon where I live, so hopefully it's not a huge flag.


Why wouldn't you do that kind of thing now? Those kinds of things don't even strike me as suspicious.

Oh, you're right.

I neglected to say that I was doing that with the expectation of ~anonymity. Using those gift cards to lease VPN services and VPS. Mailing cash to people selling Liberty Reserve and Pecunix. And later, Bitcoin.

> Anonymity in meatspace is arguably a dead issue.

...until surveillance capitalism hurts democracy enough that people start rioting.

True, but at that point, it is probably too late until the surveillance biz/govt system collapses and a new one can be built

until the surveillance biz/govt system collapses

Absent opposition there's no particular pressure on it that would result in collapse. Sure, the inherent contradictions would lead to malaise, economic recession, and depression, but those are fairly normal parts of the political cycle that are easily spun and can always be blamed on a politically impotent minority or stock antagonist.


Eventually, the internal contradictions make it unsustainable. Before that point, resistance is essentially futile, and the regular dysfunction cycles can be swept under the rug, and resisters imprisoned or deleted.

At the point where it becomes unsustainable, resistance becomes successful.

Of course, resistance needs to be maintained through the futile years/decades/centuries, and at massive cost, so that it is there at the point when it is needed.

Actually, putting on Juggalo makeup will land you on a gang watch list.

Once on the watch list, it is likely that any attempt to evade surveillance will be used to justify more invasive surveillance.


Refusing a search becomes probably cause for a search.

I would like for it to be illegal for apps to ask for address-book permission and similar. Your name, phone number, address, email and other details, perfectly packaged together, should not be free for any random contact to give out. The social contract was for only that contact to have the information. Privacy becomes impossible otherwise.

We need resistance to systems/services/initiatives that enable and encourage people to leak each other's data to third parties.

That's just one reason why I don't use smartphones.

That doesn't stop others from saving your number/email (probably bundled under the same contact) next to your name - so long as you have a number.

That, and the classic security/usability-tradeoff, render your implied suggestion somewhat obsolete, no? Sorry if I'm missing something.

You presume that telecom companies are not selling your information and haven't been for decades? I can assure you that in the US AT&T sells it's customer information. They were doing this to land line customers 20 years ago or more.

That wasn't the point of this thread (at all, mind me). Op said that ones contacts shouldn't be allowed to share informations about you via perms on their address-book, as this was never part of the social contract you made with them when giving them your number.

Someone then argued "thats why I don't have smartphone", to which I responded that not having a smartphone doesn't affect the aforementioned conflict. So unless I'm missing something here, you just went entirely off topic.

Regardless: I'm european, so I'm somewhat confident that my ISP doesn't sell my data due to GDPR; Americas lack of consumer protection isn't really my business, nor should it be deemed 'the standard', as it isn't just that.

OK, mea culpa.

It was basically an emotional response to the idea.

I suppose that at least, not having a smartphone, I'm not sharing stuff about others. Except for the number, which is already ~widely known. But I wasn't thinking that when I wrote the comment.

Quite right, forgive me. I meant to comment to the non-smartphone user. Having a phone at all (at least in the US) means your details are shared.


But at least I'm not tracked so readily.

Also, I don't care so much about my meatspace name and email. There's absolutely nothing interesting about me in meatspace.

I'm not sure what I'd do if I actually needed a smartphone. Maybe I'd go with a PinePhone, with cellular and WiFi turned off, and external routers. Hopefully someone will come out with small routers.

But on the other hand, maybe that would attract too much attention. So perhaps a basic smartphone would be better.

Small routers exist. Take for example this battery powered GL-MiFi [1] LTE router. Comes embededded with OpenWRT so your LTE connection can utilize Wireguard, Shadowsocks, OpenVPN, etc. Would pair well with something like the PinePhone.

[1] https://www.gl-inet.com/products/gl-mifi/

Hm. That looks cool as fuck. Do you happen to know if it needs to be specially provisioned with e.g. AT&T, or can one simply take the LTE sim card out of their phone and stick it into one of these?

Ironic that the Seattle Times website asked me to subscribe before I read the story on how to maintain anonymity.

After you subscribe, you probably get a page saying:

"Well, not this way."

Disabling CSS works for me, and makes the article readable.

I really miss the times when these articles were a .txt file with legit tips on how to improve anonymity. Did not matter that it was written by a random high schooler, instead of a paid journalist. Now this article title will rank highly on search engines (authoritative website with paid-to-write expert content), and people looking for privacy will buy Juggalo face paint to not look conspicuous when shopping groceries.

Facial recognition highlights one issue that anything which a human can recognize may eventually be done by a machine. We saw it before for fingerprints and learned from it that they are not unique as they assumed from matching terrorist fingerprints with a guy in Spaim who wasn't even in the country of the attack. Currently facial recognition technology is a terrifying Morton's fork where it is uncertain if accuracy or inaccuracy is worse. An inaccurate one accepted leads to false positives. An accurate one leads to reliable tracking.

Transparency and equal accssibility of data is likely the most viable and just path in the future given that it is between an arms race and outright impossible. It would leave everyone on equal footing essentially and minimize exploitability. It wouldn't be easy to adjust to, especially with embedddd societal hypocritical expectations. Japan for one has a perfect example in Sariaman culture that it is expected to head out and get smashed with coworkers after work but shameful to be identified while drunken. It would be healthier in the long run for society to learn to rid itself of cognitive dissonance one way or another. Laws would also need adjusted to keep up with actual need of enforcement so they don't depend upon selective enforcement - which is good practice period. Public drunkenness for instance is meant more for being a drunk disruptive ass than just cuffing anyone with a BAC above a threshod. Anyway all of that doesn't change the fact that said transition would be painful.

> We saw it before for fingerprints and learned from it that they are not unique as they assumed from matching terrorist fingerprints with a guy in Spaim who wasn't even in the country of the attack.

A quick search shows that you are talking about Brandon Mayfield. From what I can gather, there wasn't a collision in fingerprints, but a falty analysis (arches in opposite directions, etc) on the FBI's part.

> Transparency and equal accssibility of data is likely the most viable and just path in the future given that it is between an arms race and outright impossible. It would leave everyone on equal footing essentially and minimize exploitability.

I have argued this in the past, but one must consider that not everyone has the same leverage over that data. While it’s true that open-source can help here, there will always be a gap between personal and corporate data analysis capabilities. It’s not a certainty that those with increased resources now wouldn’t get a first-mover advantage on extracting value from this data, not that sufficient counterbalances would emerge.

Why does it feel like we are discussing reality described in Cyberpunk?

Based on everything I read thus far, short of removing yourself from society, a true anonymity is not available to an average person. And that kinda defeats the point.

Maybe it would change if politicians' every move was crowd sourced.

> Based on everything I read thus far, short of removing yourself from society, a true anonymity is not available to an average person.

We have plenty of recent examples here in Europe where people came from another continent, discarded their previous identity and got a new one based on their own claims about their age, name, origins, religion etc. ... Perhaps it's not available to the "average person", just to people from particular regions, but it's a proven, very effective way to obtain multiple/new identities.

There is also a tradeoff between anonymity and target of interest.

All these suggestions only work when a lot of people apply them. Otherwise you end up just like with using privacy operating systems, like Qubes OS. Yeah, you will be safer, but everyone also immediately thinks that you have something to hide, which causes systems to double down on tracking you. You might even get some human "attention", if you actually have something to hide. A couple of users using Tor, are not anonymous. A couple of people wearing IR glasses, are not anonymous. Millions of people using AdBlocker, that's already doing something. Think of masses.

If you try to be anonymous just by yourself, you are running into the trap of making your trails so uncommon, that people will still be able to track you. An example: Qubes OS causes so unique browser fingerprinting, that even under TOR, I will still be uniquely identified. That's why OS like Tails, spend so much effort avoiding different fingerprints for different users.

Is this[1] your source about the browser fingerprinting in Qubes?

It’s the only thing I could find on the subject.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/Qubes/comments/ai5obg/my_whonix_fin...

> To keep reading, please turn off your ad blocker, create an account or support us by becoming a subscriber.

So Seattle Times doesn't want me to read this article unless I share my identity with them so they can sell it to others.

Seattle Times hires journalists that are allowed to pursue whatever story even if it goes against their corporate decisions (in this case), is that a bad thing? Would you prefer that higher ups silence the journalist and say "no, you cannot publish this because we employ anti ad-blockers and trackers"?

Among reputable newspapers, journalists and editors are ~independent from business management.

Some years ago, NY Times published a series about online tracking. And said series accurately reported tracking by NY Times.

Without JS I just got a blank page. Enabled the main domain temporarily and I could see the article but then I was prompted to login with Facebook or Google. :D

For this and many troublesome sites, selecting reader view as soon as content loads evades the paywall.

Or for Wired, which apparently doesn't offer reader view, hitting escape as soon as content loads.

I'm curious if you or someone else could explain exactly how "reader view" gets around paywall and login walls. This feature for me has become invaluable.

The body text is all still there. It’s just being hidden by some piece of JavaScript that reader view ignores.

It's probably just oversight by web devs.

Looks like I am having no issues reading the article using links (under WSL/Bionic).

Hahaha .. uBlock origin has flagged 21 blocks, Privacy Badger 12 potential trackers. "Staying annymous"..

Shows how hollow most of this "privacy" culture is.

Stallman wgets websites and prints the text to read them, that's real privacy conscious.

I looks like those glasses just overexpose the video. You could probably turn down the exposure digitally and identify the person.

No, they don't just do that. They block certain wavelengths of light so the wearers eyes cannot be filmed.

No one cared who I was til I put on the mask.

I wonder if people that buy this kind of masking techniques, still have a mobile phone in their pocket.

Even if they do:

  * They are aware of those, and therefore may use other countermeasures.
  * The masking still reduces the "surveilance surface".

EDIT: formatting

Funny Era.

You have to accept surveillance, as it increases security of everyone.

"Surveillance has a chilling effect on freedom. People change their behavior when they live their lives under surveillance. They are less likely to speak freely and act individually. They self-censor. They become conformist. We simply aren’t as willing to be our individual selves when others are watching."

See: https://www.wired.com/story/mcsweeneys-excerpt-the-right-to-...

No. It decreases the security of dissidents and many people living outside normal or legally approved modes.

Or just culturally approved modes

Which Western country uses their military surveillance to decrease the security of its dissidents? I can't find such as case, while I can find many cases of surveillance used to stop tragedy. Seems like military surveillance in the West is predominantly used correctly: to counter terrorism and illegal crime.

Sharing military surveillance mitigation tricks is not unlike sharing 0-days against government systems, and can be seen as unethical and counterproductive: Military surveillance will try to improve their systems, and bad people will use it to avoid surveillance.

It is too simplistic to deem any and all surveillance as inherently bad and invasive. No country can ensure the safety of its tax payers if it cripples their counterintelligence, foreign intelligence, border security, counterterrorism.

People who deem national security as more important than individual security, or the security of anti-nation dissidents, or people living outside the legally approved modes, should be applauded. It is not very nice to decrease the security of me and my family to obtain an ideological goal.

My comment was not limited to Western countries. Most people don't live in the West after all.

If you're going to make a ridiculously overbroad statement like "surveillance increases security" then I hope you have some very strong evidence or else be ready for people like me to point out that not really true across the board at all.

Do you have any evidence that surveillance of citizens increases national security? Even we you did, it's not clear that it's worth the trade-off in freedom. And even then, that is irrelevant for what we're talking about, which is whether a given individual would benefit from submitting to the surveillance state (99% won't).

Also, the West has a storied history of abusing it's surveillance powers. Are we just handwaving this away or what?

> military surveillance

Who said anything about military surveillance? Why on earth would you jump to the conclusion that military surveillance is what we are discussion? Most government-run domestic surveillance likely comes from law enforcement and agencies with a domestic purview like Homeland Security. The NSA is the exception, of course.

I would expect that even most privacy advocates wouldn't have a problem with surveillance that is a part of actual military operations.

> It is not very nice to decrease the security of me and my family to obtain an ideological goal.

That's your opinion. Ben Franklin and many others would disagree, and we have a Bill of Rights in place specifically to disallow this kind of tradeoff.

If you want absolute security at any cost, Singapore is always an option.

Note how you have juxtaposed individual security with national security. But what is "national security", really? If it were the aggregate of individual security, then there would be no contradiction here - you achieve maximum national security by making everybody individually secure. That we see them as contradictory goals rather implies that "national security" is about something else. At which point I would say: yes, individual security is more important than "national security".

The UK has been flirting with declaring Extinction Rebellion (an environmental protest group with a preference for street theater) as an extremist group. The US did designate environmental and animal rights groups as terrorists in law back in the 90s.

I've only seen the designation applied to Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front, but my understanding is that there's considerable overlap between the latter and Earth First. They're an interesting legal example in that both groups explicitly disavow the destruction of human life and targeted their efforts toward property destruction, which is rather at odds with the popular understanding of 'terrorism' as discussed herein.


It's possible that you aren't thinking of the west in terms of the last 100 years. I feel like sometimes when we're all discussing privacy on here, we forget surveillance is iterative as an industry as well. This isn't the first time that privacy has attempted to be eroded.

Here are a few for you to consider: Post 9/11: the tracking of muslim american communities and all that came from Snowden's disclosures

Interment of Japanese Americans: identify, tracked and literally interned during WWII

WWII Axis decisions: the tracking, internment, and death of Jews, Slavs, gypsies and others

WWI: The Wilson administration banned radical and Socialist journals from the mail system, jailed the leader of the Socialist party even though ~1% of the US population voted for the guy

McCarthyism which was shown to be used against political rivals as much as it was against socialists

The list honestly goes on and on. A government cannot be trusted with expanded surveillance tools and there just needs to be oversight. Its not to say it shouldnt exist, its to say it should always be viewed with a critical gaze.

As far as the ideological goal sitting above your security, its important to remember that your ideological goal may be at odds. Democracy was at odds. Socialism is at odds. Freedom of religion in communist china and russia was at odds with the existing govt. Its easy to say these things when we feel like we're on the 'right' side and things will never change.

"illegal crime"

Crime is, by definition, illegal.

What would you say to those who were Jewish or another type of 'undesirable' in 1930/40s Germany, or one of the millions disappeared by the USSR secret security, or one of hundreds of thousands of Uighur peoples being oppressed/killed in modern day China?

I think the comment you're replying to was sarcasm

That they live in a pretty shitty country in their lifetime. First two groups weren’t very successful in evading that fate either, despite it was no cams back then.

How on earth a country turns into an genocide state by simply implementing a surveillance? Why doesn’t South Korea oppress/kill anyone, having surveillance virtually everywhere except toilets? (Yes, there is an organization that prevents this.)

What if I told you that American society imprisons more people than any country in history? What if I told you that the US has a rich history of killing (effective) dissidents (e.g. Fred Hampton) and making life hell for others (e.g. Manning, Snowden)? That large scale abuses of minorities occurs every day? That things look like they are steadily getting worse?

I would say then that you cannot prevent this system imprisoning people, save Snowden or help minorities by reducing surveillance or leaving it as is. Unless there is a clear causal link pointing from it to these facts.

The entire point of surveillance is to shift security between groups. The security cameras around my house make it less secure for those that try to steal from me and more secure for myself, my family and my possessions.

Mass surveillance is often used in ways that don't promote general welfare.

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