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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Wikipedia Founder’s New Social Project Starts Strong

If you’re like everyone else then you still have a Facebook profile that you barely check, yet still need. Yes it’s handy to be in touch with people using one network, but let’s face it: Facebook is garbage. The amount of lies spread and the lack of effective content moderation ensures that the site will prey on the weak and ill informed. Their advertising model ensures that they will always violate our privacy in the pursuit of profit.

Jimmy Wales, one of the founders of Wikipedia, has created an alternative to Facebook. The new WT:Social exists as a counterpoint to the advertising led business model of other social networks and its early success is promising.

“We will foster an environment where bad actors are removed because it is right, not because it suddenly affects our bottom-line.”

In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Mr Wales described the advertising-led business model favoured by the social network giants as “problematic”.

“It turns out the huge winner is low-quality content,” he said.

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Hactivist Offers 100k to Hack Evil Corporations

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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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Little Robot Friends: Kids Should have Fun with Code

Little Robot Friends is a Toronto-based startup that wants kids to not only be comfortable with code, they want kids to have fun playing with it too. The company runs traditional classes which teach coding practices like similar educational services. The neat thing with Little Robot Friends is that they want you to take it home. They sell kits for kids to make, you guessed it, a little robot they can be friends with.

We started with a simple idea. How can we blur the line between toys and tools? Can we make a robot that encourages kids to customize not only how it looks and sounds, but how it works? And so we created the Little Robot Friends – a coding companion for curious minds.

Before launching Little Robot Friends, Ann & Mark spent their time designing and building museum and science center exhibits around the world. Their expertise is in taking challenging subjects and making them fun & engaging for kids. When kids discover for themselves why things are awesome, they can propel their own excitement and imagination. Check out their past work at Aesthetec Studio.

Check it out.
Thanks to Nick!

Autonomous Objects

tape and tool

The sharing economy should be about sharing more than profits. At least that’s what the thinkers behind the sharing economy called for in the early days of the term; however we’ve seen it evolve into a profit-driven notion like rental cars and the ever-questionable AirBnB. Frustrated by this greedy turn in the sharing economy the people at Good Robot started Autonomous Objects (AO). AO is similar to the tool library except there are no physical locations for the service, instead the tools are listed and tracked on an ethereum blockchain. The tools live in the houses of the borrowers until the next borrow shows up.

Why Autonomous Objects?
Autonomous objects are objects with freedom: they can’t be owned because they are part of a commons. This is an important and deliberate choice, because while ownership and its assumptions have been very valuable for our society, these assumptions have also dismantled many a successful commons. We try and avoid that problem by ensuring the objects in our system have genuine autonomy. Every object even has its own web page and even a ‘bank account’ (more about that later). Autonomous objects are public goods that can be enjoyed, used and shared by anyone. But they also need kind-hearted people to help, care for, fund, and protect them too (a guardian). Anyone can help, and best of all, if you like an autonomous object enough to donate to it you can help it spawn new offspring. Once an autonomous object accumulates enough donations in its ‘bank account’ it will purchase new copies of itself (its children) to share with the world!

Check it out!

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