This is the first in an itinerant series of essays to put practical effects to resistance in the coming bad times. Reader contributions welcome. -BB [Great note from Ben Stone, the Bad Quaker: One of my listeners has an off shore company that runs a private network. I have a device (Samsung Galaxy Player 3.6) that is incapable of being used as a traditional cell phone. It will play MP3s, surf the net, and allow me to connect to the private network mentioned above. Once connected to that network, I can “call” anyone else on the network, so long as I know their code. This code is not saved by the device. The call is mil-grade encrypted. The service for this network runs about the price of a traditional cell service when spread over the course of a year. It’s my understanding that using this network, in conjunction with a VPN like Cryptohippie (run by Paul Rosenburg, another friend), a call through a Verizon hot spot cannot be tapped, recorded, or traced. Here is their web site, but keep in mind, the site doesn’t tell the whole story.
[http://libertyprivate.net/] “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.” So reads the text sent to thousands of protesters in Ukraine located via cell phones (most likely to within five meters of their location with phone on hip). The usual suspects in the government immediately passed new laws on various behaviors now prohibited as a result of the violent protests that have been wracking the Ukraine recently. This included a ban on wearing helmets and masks to better prevent spontaneous protesters from foiling facial recognition scanners for the government apparatchiks. Pretty soon maybe they will be able to simply ban large groupings of people but this may become problematic when waiting in the endless lines world-wide for government services ranging from DMVs to post offices to every other assorted queuing regime that is the curse of all non-private sector “service” providers.This should be a wake up call (pun intended) for all the subjects in the USSA to realize precisely how the ubiquitous communications devices will serve the totalitarian aspirants in every political office globally. Thanks to the heroic efforts of Snowden and his confreres, the depths of surveillance depravity and sheer expense in the West to vacuum and store all human electronic traffic is no longer in question which means what to do about it.The first thing you do is read everything at the best communications and sousveillance site on the ‘net at Signal Corps and start to practice better communications hygiene for you and your family and friends. Once the entire rotten totalitarian fabric of the USSA starts to come apart at the seams and the real unpleasantness begins, comms will be the very lifeblood of effective resistance and rebirth of the fractured elements of the smoking ruins after the Federal leviathan has committed global seppuku through economic malpractice and fascist/socialist over-reach.
The battery in my dumb phone recently died and I have yet to replace it and have been examining the options to leave the liberty-hating cell colossus of Verizon. The telecoms are now wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Federal law enforcement mechanism.
My search for another dumb phone will continue and any recommendations are welcome. Hell, I would be fond of a pager but they no longer exist and landlines are practically extinct residentially (none in my home) and pay phones are becoming very scarce.
The concept of burner phones holds great appeal as long as one can purchase for cash with no owner signature for receipt and used for special occasions. Of course, the NSA is even tracking that through various means it can employ:
“As Sanchez points out, news that the NSA is using the phone database to look for patterns of burner use would have fewer civil liberties implications than some of the agency’s other activities; however, the revelation shows again how the agency will use the metadata it has amassed for new or unexpected ways — and that there is a lack of clear rules for how it can or can’t probe the metadata.”
Hell, the US Post Office is photographing all mail covers. Do your part by putting all return addresses on the reverse side of the envelope. Also, if you receive any mail at your physical address you should strongly reconsider that.
“The Postal Service on Friday confirmed that it takes a photograph of every letter and package mailed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces last year — and occasionally provides the photos to law enforcement agencies that request them as part of criminal cases.”
“It’s done by machine, so there’s no central area where any of this information would be,” he said. “It’s extremely expensive to keep pictures of billions of pieces of mail. So there’s no need for us to do that.”
Right, that’s what the moronathon known as the TSA said about the Porno Scanners.
The intelligence means to do so is very rudimentary and is simply the crafting and maintenance of association networks which are highly effective when employed to track activities of apparently disparate individuals. One can do it on a blackboard, computers or the common “big boards” in the noxious police procedural dramas that have polluted the networks for decades.
My Nokia “candy bar” phone I used in Kabul will alert the NSA in the USSA if I install a new SIM in it and it will get very special attention at the agency as a new phone with associated uses in Afghanistan and the Philippines. That is how simple the process is. But then again, it appears to be common news that every phone in ‘murka is now logged, recorded and tracked; all this to ostensibly prevent an event so rare and esoteric that I stand a greater chance of being mauled by an albino Yeti than suffering in a foreign-inspired terrorist attack. I use the sobriquet “foreign” because current police practices in the US constitute for all practical and linguistic purposes terrorism.
What to do?
The most extreme answer is don’t have a phone and only carry a burner with no stored numbers to use infrequently and dispose with every use. For most Americans, this is impractical especially due to the sorry state of electronic addiction I am witness to every day as I see the shamblers wandering about my environs in neck down, slack-jawed attachment to the tiny screens illuminating their pasty faces. The young are especially addicted, much to the satisfaction of the Orwellian bureaucrats in the various sectors of giant gov.
Like Boston says though, privacy is not only inconvenient but hard work that demands discipline most don’t desire nor attend to.
If you have to have a cell phone, use it sparingly but the domestic and work-related “requirements” in the modern connected era may preclude most from selectively activating their phones at predetermined times to check messages and traffic. Something you will find quite refreshing when it comes to email.
If you have lunch or conversations with like-minded dissenters and genuine members of FREEFOR, leave your cell phones in the car.
Cell phones can be stored in a fridge, a “dead zone” bag or a martini shaker (Bond would be proud). This prevents them from being used as remote listening devices by the usual suspects but does not prevent them from being location markers depending on storage vicinity.
A practical test would be a phone free weekend to see what alternatives may emerge. Acquisition of portable HAM radios? For us here in Arizona, we may be able to use one time pads and primitive cryptography on Marine Band which has far less traffic in the desert. The Russians are seeking typewriters for creating documents and old time printing press technology may bear new reexamination. Fred Woodworth has been publishing The Match (I have subscribed since the 1990s) via non-electronic means for decades so the technology is still available.
The state can be foiled by the individual.
I look forward to readers providing more tips and techniques on foiling and monkey-wrenching the Orwellian cocktail the rulers are now serving at the bar.