It's now out in the open – it has become public knowledge:
The US government not only wants/does spy on it's own people, they are going to go the whole way and do it on the whole world.
And what they are doing, is daunting indeed! The means to do that, have been built up quietly over the last 8 to 9 years and the main facilities are scheduled to go online in September 2013.
The center piece of what I'm talking about is blandly named the 'Utah Data Center'. Reports on it have very recently been in the press all over the world. Even in tiny newspapers, which reach everyday Jane and John – they all know now too. It's out of the conspiracy corner, it's out in broad daylight and that's good.
Let me give you a brief wrap-up of what I've seen so far and then, let's talk about what can be done to protect at least part of our online privacy.
Near Salt Lake City, Utah, in the town called Bluffdale, the NSA is putting the finishing touches
on a facility they call the 'Utah Data Center'.
It's main purpose is, it to store unimaginable masses of data collected by all sorts of
government facilities and operations worldwide.
They include but are not limited to:
The Internet (e-mails, search queries, web sites, purchases, payments, parking tickets, downloads, e-commerce … really anything that's sent/used/done using the Internet)
Telephony (landlines, mobile and satellite),
The so-called deep-net (which is the normally not visible and not from the Internet accessible data networks of other governments, institutions, companies and private households)
The second main purpose of the 'Utah Data Center' (dubbed 'the BlackBox') is of course, to mine those yottabyte(s)1 of data and to brute-force attack encrypted parts of it. To support the effort of brute-forcing encrypted data, they are at the same time building and ever upgrading already operational supercomputing facilities, namely the one called 'Building 5300' (Multiprogram Research Facility; George R. Cotter) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
All the mind-boggling details (like: Cost (the taxpayers' money!), power consumption, storage capabilities, acreage (more than 5 times the size of the US Capitol Building in DC)... ) as well as the history and whole lot of insights, may be read in the original Wired article. You'll find the link to it towards the end of this paper.
What concerns me here though, is to try and give an answer to the question
“What can we do, to still preserve our online privacy as far as possible, even in the advent of 'the BlackBox'?”
I'll answer the question in two parts. First, I'll present a non-exhaustive ordered list of behavior and measures to implement and adhere to and second, I'll sum it up and talk about the real cost of it. Brace yourself, you might be in for a surprise.
- Yottabyte: 1 Quadrillion GigaBytes (1 + 24 zeroes), or some 500 Quintillion pages of text (500 + 18 zeroes); see also WikiPedia at: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Yottabyte
Core behavioral adaptions and measures to restore and maintain personal online privacy and dignity:
- Refrain immediately from
- using your real name where not explicitly required by law, instead, use a number of pseudonyms (aliases, pen names) and vary their use purposely
- handing out any personal data where not explicitly required by law
- using any so called free online services (e-mail, social media, …)
- using the most regular search engines, instead use alternative ones which respect and
protect your privacy instead of exploiting you and milking you for your data and
behavior and for that of all of your communication partners (business, family, friends).
- Promote and use cash and cash-like tender as well as barter and person-to-person
- Get privacy services for your electronic communication and try your best, to get all your
communication partners onto the same service – thus forming “private virtual closed
user groups” within which you communicate strictly pseudonymous and off-the-record.
Done right, no third party can even know, that such a CUG exists much less 'overhear'
and spy on their communications content and/or context.
- Get anonymized and stay anonymized all the time (at your business, at home and on
- Store your digital data in a secure digital cloud (all encrypted by yourself) and not on
your laptop-, desktop- or handheld computer (tablet, smartphone).
- Get rid of your old
- data on all those devices you're still keeping in your basements and attics, by physically destroying them
- data on all those free email accounts and social network accounts
- passwords by replacing them with strong ones and don't use the same one all over.
- Make it a habit, to physically power off your electronic devices (including your mobile
phones!) regularly and keep them powered off (on standby is not good enough!) as
long as possible. In other words: Power them on only when you need to use them, then
power them off again.
To be always 'in touch' is neither necessary, nor good for your health, nor for the environment. It's very good though, for keeping a permanent trace on you. Even for directly spying on you by listening in – turning on your devices microphone and cameras.
Turning your computers off after use, also gets easily rid of possible RAM viruses which are extremely hard to detect and to clean out.
The answer to the above question is “Yes, we can!” - no pun intended, of course!
Earnestly again: We not only can do a lot against this abominable horror of police state and privacy invasion and -control, we simply must!
Each and every one of must do what he can and put his own convenience way behind his need for personal privacy and freedom. Rest assured: Even if you're not convinced yet, there will be a time when you realize what's going on and what's been stolen from you. But then, it's way too late.
They feed us with convenience and poison us by it! They offer us freebies and steal our privacy.
There are no excuses and we all know it since long: There is no such thing as a free lunch!
We must get up – each one of us – and start to not-comply. The earlier the better, since each and every day counts dearly. While you've read this, they have collected, cross-indexed, patterned and stored hundreds of megabytes of data – certainly including this paper. They know now, that you've read it... and that I wrote it.
One-stop Resource : sciphered – asserting privacy
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I invite you to contact me privately by using the secure form at https://sciphered.com/contacts/contact_us
Please mention 'ExpatWorld' so I can show my gratitude back to them. Thank you.
A few words about sciphered, so you know what we're all about:
We're long term (in Internet time measure) business partners with Cryptohippie. At some point in this about 4 years of time, we agreed on the necessity to offer easy to use applications for end-users besides the more infrastructure oriented anonymizing VPN offered by Cryptohippie. We also agreed, that each one of us should keep doing what they are best at. This got me doing the applications.
Thankfully seizing the opportunity, I'll touch on a few key-concepts here:
- We offer a 100% web-based service, which allows it's users
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- to authenticate with secure / ultra secure 2- or 3-factor authentication.
- to send and receive digitally signed and encrypted and anonymized e-mails:
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- sciphered private services is much more than just your arbitrary off-the-shelf e-mail
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- Two of our greatest assets and USPs are our LAS (location agnostic storage) and are
our dual-headed servers.
LAS means, that the storage is completely out of reach of the Internet. It's inside of Cryptohippie's CryptoNet, itself multiple encrypted, highly restricted and not locatable, neither geographically nor politically.
Dual-headed means: The web servers are reachable publicly from the Internet – SSL encrypted – but more so, they are directly reachable from inside Cryptohippie's anonymizing VPN. And what that means, is simply extraordinary: If you are a Cryptohippie user and you connect to sciphered you won't even leave the secure space created by the anonymizing VPN – you stay invisible and your data as well!
If your communication partner does the same and you exchange e-mails or our special kind of e-messages, none of them ever even leave neither our server nor the CryptoNet.
Privacy and non-compliance are our priority issues to ensure utmost confidentiality, regarding the online interchange with and of your partners, clients, friends and loved ones.
The business case we propose is called 'high level closed user groups'. Here, family members, close friends and trusted third parties form loosely fastened private clusters of connected people. As all of the clusters' members are on the same platform, communication is at it's most private. Amongst them, nothing needs to go out 'in the plain' anymore and therefore, nothing can be observed and monitored by uninvited third parties. As sign-up as well as participation may both be done anonymously, technically nobody may even learn, that a specific person is at all utilizing our services.
sciphered – asserting privacy!
It's time to act. The "boys" are not messing around anymore. Private communication is cheap and robust. Not to use it is just "suicidal".
Read about it. Go to https://sciphered.com
Sign up for a free trial. Get your usual contacts to sign up too, so you can communicate in private. There are group discounts. Write us for discounts and pricing: firstname.lastname@example.org
The black box: Inside America's massive new surveillance centre
By James Bamford; 30 March 2012
To The Point News: THE ELECTRONIC POLICE STATE
By Paul Rosenberg; Friday, 19 February 2010
To The Point News: DEFEATING THE ELECTRONIC POLICE STATE
By Paul Rosenberg; Wednesday, 24 February 2010 http://www.tothepointnews.com/content/view/3980/87/