Tips for Remaining Anonymous in the Surveillance Age

safe texting

Surveillance capitalism benefits companies who have large datasets about what people do and where they are – without the consent of those being monitored. The pervasive modern surveillance which is around us everyday from our phones to private cameras can be connected to large corporations or governments for nefarious purposes. Sometimes it can seem innocuous (but not positive) like ads or utterly terrifying like what’s happening in China.

So what to do if you don’t want to be monitored? Step one is to constantly pester politicians about it. You can use privacy enhancing browser extensions or go a little further and get glasses that prevents cameras from seeing your face.

Today, artificial intelligence (AI) technology, such as facial recognition, has become more widespread in public and private spaces — including schools, retail storesairports, concert venues and even to unlock the newest iPhones. Civil-liberty groups concerned about the potential for misuse have urged politicians to regulate the systems. A recent Washington Post investigation, for instance, revealed FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents used facial recognition to scan millions of Americans’ driver’s licenses without their knowledge to identify suspects and undocumented immigrants.

The motivation to seek out antidotes to an over-powerful force has political and symbolic significance for Doctorow, an L.A.-based science-fiction author and privacy advocate. His father’s family fled the Soviet Union, which used surveillance to control the masses.

“We are entirely too sanguine about the idea that surveillance technologies will be built by people we agree with for goals we are happy to support,” he said. “For this technology to be developed and for there to be no countermeasures is a road map to tyranny.”

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Don’t Give Gifts this Year

coffee and chocolate

If you care about people and want to demonstrate that care through the acquisition of material wealth: stop. This holiday season you should try something different by not buying material gifts for those you love and get them something else instead, like tickets to a play. The spirit of gift giving is nice and all, but with the ongoing climate crisis we need to adapt to the reality of consumerism. There are plenty of alternatives to physical objects, all you have to do is look.

Sarah Herr, a project assistant for Living Green Barrie, based north of Toronto, is well aware of this. She recently held a workshop called “Greening the Holidays,” which included tips on how to help your family transition to greener gifting. Here are some of her suggestions:

  • Let them know you want to be more mindful about gift giving. You can do so by writing a post on social media or writing a Christmas letter or email to your loved ones, including how you are changing your holiday traditions to involve less waste.
  • Tell them why you are doing things differently. Let them know your concerns about environmental pollution, climate change and waste.
  • Provide alternatives. Your family will be much more likely to get on board if you let them know about new ways to give.

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It’s Time to Topple the Voting System

Modern democracy is under a lot of scrutiny this century as we’ve seen increased corruption by established political parties and a manipulation of bureaucratic processes to benefit the elite. The rise populism is a reaction to a perception that the electoral system isn’t reflecting the people, the system isn’t actually democratic in many people’s eyes. Let’s change that. Right now on Kickstarter you can back a project that’s trying to revive Canada’s electoral system by replacing first past the post (FPP) with a better system which represents all people. The broken FPP has already been replaced in some municipalities and that’s just the start.

But wait – there is hope! There actually HAS been successful experiments of voting reform in Canada, and the movement is GROWING. In 2018, London city council became the FIRST government in Canada to ditch first-past-the-post. Kingston and Cambridge Ontario also held successful referendums to reform their voting systems in time for the 2022 municipal elections.

YOU can make a difference. We’ve toppled three dominoes, but there are 444 municipalities in Ontario. Who’s next?

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Hactivist Offers 100k to Hack Evil Corporations

computer screen

The infamous (and very talented) hacker Phineas Fisher has offered $100,000 to people who hack into oil companies, banks, and other companies. There’s a catch: the hacks better be used to help fight the climate crisis or inequality. Since hackers like to remain anonymous Fisher will pay bounties for the hacks using Monero or another cyrptocurrency. Fisher doesn’t just preach that hackers should use their knowledge to fight evil in the world, Fisher does it too. Fisher’s previous hacks have exposed illegal government spying programs, hit Turkey’s authoritarian ruling party, exposed corporate spyware vendors, and other targets including stealing directly from an offshore bank like a modern day Robin Hood.

“I think hacking is a powerful tool, and hacktivism has only been used to a fraction of its potential,” Phineas Fisher told Motherboard. “And a little investment can help to develop that, the golden years [of hacktivism] are yet to come.”

In their new manifesto, Phineas Fisher also claimed to have hacked an offshore bank and called on other hacktivists to join in the fight against inequality and capitalism. The hacker said that in 2016 they hacked the Cayman Bank and Trust Company from the Isle of Man, an island between the UK and Northern Island. The hacker said they were able to steal money, documents, and emails from the bank. They declined to reveal how much money they stole, but said it was “a few hundred thousand” dollars.

“I robbed a bank and gave the money away,” Phineas Fisher wrote in the manifesto. “Computer hacking is a powerful tool to fight economic inequality.”

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Good Coffee for Good Causes

coffee

A coffee chain in Cambodia is more than just another place to get an espresso. Feel Good Coffee is a social enterprise that runs cafes and sells coffee wholesale to improve the lives of the average Cambodian. One of the really neat things they do is train their staff to basically get jobs elsewhere, the company gets better trained employees while those employees are free to apply elsewhere with increased skills like management or customer service. Employees are paid a living wage for serving good coffee and pastries, if you’re in Cambodia you should pay them a visit.

In our business, empowerment means giving people meaningful options an the power to transform their choices into actions and desired outcomes.
For our farmer-suppliers, this means theyset the price for their own coffee, using their knowledge to grow and process their coffee without interference, we respect their autonomy and treat them as equal partners in our business, and help them to access tools and training about new processes and technologies that can make their farms more sustainable and profitable.

For our employees, it means sharing information, rewards, and power with our entire staff so that they can take initiative and make decisions, solve problems, and improve performance and service, and direct their own career path.

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