I've Got Nothing to Hide
Originally posted at: www.capitalistexploits.at
I've had 2 speeding tickets in my life. I've never been in a fist fight. I've never robbed a convenience store, or anyone else for that matter. I pay my taxes - all of them. I declare all my assets wherever they may be in the world. I pick up trash on the beach and I send my mom flowers on her birthday.
By all measures I'm a pretty upstanding member of society. Yet, according to most attorneys I know, the mere act of my rolling out of bed in the morning, leaving my humble abode and going about my daily affairs (in most places in the world) will find me breaking several "laws" before lunch time!
Regardless of what I (or you) do throughout the day we're tracked, logged, profiled and otherwise "identified" in a hundred different ways.
Over in the UK, where surveillance is even more dramatic, even the garbage cans are stalking the populace!
It's out of control, and it's getting exponentially worse by the day. Orwell is rolling over Rand in their respective graves.
For those who say, "I have nothing to hide, I've done nothing wrong..." you may want to revisit that naive mindset. It doesn't matter if YOU think you've done nothing wrong. Soon it won't even matter what the human being analysing your behaviour at the other end of the wire thinks, since there very likely WON'T be a human being in that role soon.
According to the head honcho for US intelligence gathering, General Keith Alexander, "What we’ve done is put people in loops of transferring data and securing networks—doing what machines are probably better at doing."
So, in other words get rid of the humans. That makes me feel a whole lot better! How about you?
I don't care who you are or what your philosophical leanings. Holding to the line that this is all being done to protect us from scary guys with turbans that want to kill us is just crap! It is so remarkably insincere and inaccurate that the politicians who have had the gall to use that line should have been tarred and feathered already.
This is about control and it's about confiscation. Full stop.
The government is broke folks! They can't continue to print forever and they can't support the massive entitlements that they've created. However, they STILL think that more money will solve all their problems.
I agree with Martin Armstrong when he says that this entire thing is about TAXES. They want every last dime they can get their greasy mits on. They are monitoring your Facebook page, your "Tweets", your emails and your travel records so they can figure out what you're hiding from them and where it is. They want their pound of flesh, and they'll even bribe your friends to turn you in to get it.
We live in a messed up world, period. So what do we do?
Well, the first thing is to try and take back some of the privacy that is STILL OUR RIGHT. To that end I had a chat recently with a gentleman who makes it his business to understand what's happening and what we can do about it. We'll call him "John".
Mark: John, you sent me that disturbing story about the garbage cans in the UK that are "stalking" people. Thanks! Just what I needed to fuel the fire of my paranoia.
John: (Laughing) Sad but true Mark. I think it's important though that we all critically examine Big Brother's motives and his nefarious Surveillance State. With the recent revelations (at least revelations to some...) of NSA spying from hero/whistleblower Edward Snowden, and the subsequent cascade of disclosures regarding cooperative surveillance programs enacted by governments and insider corporations, it is easy to become mired in a sense of hopelessness that the vision of Big Brother's all seeing eye can ever be blocked.
Mark: But do you blame people for being upset and paranoid? I mean they spend our billions to suppress and control us, and make heroes out to be enemies of the State for disclosing the truth. It's insane, really.
John: We should all have a bit of healthy paranoia regarding this, but the fact is that there are many things one can do – using a combination of legal structures, the right mix of investments, understanding how technology is both your ally and your enemy, and developing a “secure-private mindset - “ an individual can still be free (or at least free-er) in the unfree world.
Looking at it another way, there will always be people that understand that the world consists of nothing more than artificial, complex systems that tightly regulate and control key areas of our life such that they infringe individual freedom. These complex systems - political, legal, financial and technical – serve to maintain tight control over your property, finances, freedom to travel, etc. However, these complex systems suffer mightily from their own complexity.
Any sufficiently complex system can be circumvented if one understands how it works. Just as any skilled programmer can hack into a government system, or a skilled mechanic can make most any vehicle run, or an excellent attorney can find a loophole for his client, all complex systems suffer from their own complexity. As long as there is a technology-driven Surveillance State, there will always be software glitches, bugs, points of poor integration and limitations countered by other technologies.
Once you understand how these complex systems function, interact, and evolve, you have the tools at your disposal to avoid having your property rights and freedom infringed upon. You use the complexity of the system itself as your ally.
Mark: So by understanding a bit about the complexity we can retain at least some privacy and freedom?
John: Yes, that is how you beat back Big Brother. It's really the only way unless you want to run off and live in the bush.
Suffice it to say that obtaining or maintaining your freedom of person and property is no easy challenge today. It's not even a singular event. It requires a wide range of knowledge and expertise of complex systems that must continually evolve as the systems evolve. It requires continuing education and relationships with experts in their respective fields of understanding each of these critical areas – and it's not something that ever stops. It's an evolving process. What's important, however, is that it is possible.
Mark: It is possible, but it comes with a learning curve. But I guess the good news is that with a little diligence we can grab a bit of our freedom back.
John: People make the move to live free every day Mark. You can live free and outside of the confines of each control point governed by the complexities of the political, legal, financial, and technological systems that really serve almost no purpose today other than to restrict your freedom.
Like you said in your intro above, this is not about our security, which I'll get into in a moment, it's about governments seizing assets to fund their unsustainable policies and finances.
Mark: I couldn't agree more, yet I know that some people reading this aren't going to be able to get there easily.
John: It's pretty obvious, really. The recent spate of “bail-ins” illustrated by the events in Cyprus, and showcased by government communications about how to handle the next financial crisis, have shown governments have a clear desire to ratchet up the level of spying on all people, including their own citizens. If spending largess is to be funded, it will be funded from the savings and assets of law-abiding citizens.
From the governmental perspective, the need to track all citizens' assets, cash flows, and behaviors is becoming ever more critical, and the time frame before these governments need access to your assets to cover their debts is getting shorter. That means you must absolutely understand the methods of the Surveillance State and take action to protect your privacy in all matters. It may be the single most important time in history to defend your privacy for the degree of your privacy is quickly becoming directly equivalent to your degree of freedom.
Mark: Exactly! You said it very succinctly, and I hope that people can grasp what this means and see the logic here. It is no coincidence that there is a war on to limit your degree of our privacy.
It's never been about protecting us from anything then, has it?
John: No. Look, most free-thinking individuals already know, Big Brother has little to no ability to protect us from external threats. For all of the illusion of security perpetuated by the US Department of Homeland Security, for example, they have never stopped any criminal action – any real threats have always been stopped by aware individuals.
Why restrict bottles of liquid to 100 ml (3 ounces)? Wouldn't real terrorists simply send multiple people through the lines with several 100 ml bottles of explosive material and simply combine them together on the other side of the security line? Why ban 16 ounce printer cartridges, but no 12 ounce cartridges (yes, this is a fact when you travel through the US)? Wouldn't real terrorists simply stand in the long security line caused by all of this security theater and detonate a bomb before going through security?
Mark: Or confiscate my nail clippers at security but give me a stainless steel knife in business class? They really have very little respect for people's intelligence, and I hate to say it, but as I watch the sheeple file through security in these airports I think in large part that lack of respect is deserved.
John: Bottom line, Big Brother cannot keep anyone safe – the most it can do is make people feel safe. The real terror for Big Brother would be showing the public that they have no power, no ability to secure anything, and are simply a pariah on individual freedom. Shattering the illusion of security is what Big Brother fears.
Recognizing the difference between what Big Brother says - “I will make you safe,” and what Big Brother does - “I will track and monitor everything you do for my own safety,” is what developing the secure-private mindset is all about.
Mark: It really is about changing the way you think and interact with the world in general. Most of this is all an illusion, an elaborate distraction.
John: To develop your own secure-private mindset is to see Big Brother's illusion of security for what it is, understand Big Brother's approach to surveillance and understand your own vulnerabilities to the Surveillance State. It's a learned skill that will begin to make you view your world very critically and allow you to see the weaknesses in the complex system of surveillance that surrounds you. It takes time and practice to make it second nature, but soon it will come with no effort at all.
Mark: How do we do that?
John: Simple. Think about some of the basic necessities you use every day – things that you don't even perceive are governed by complex systems. These are the little things you take for granted that are vital for daily societal functioning. In the modern world, people require electricity, running water, snail mail/package shipping, access to the internet, phones/tablets/communication devices, car/bus/train/plane travel, convenient access to food, credit cards/bank accounts, legal title to property, etc. Loosely categorized, these control points can be summed up as food/water, shelter, power, communication, money, medical care, and travel.
Note that these are also, not coincidentally, the most heavily regulated, monitored, and controlled areas of society. They are the weak points where your personal freedom and property collide with Big Brother's desire for control. After all, if Big Brother doesn't control these areas and you do, then Big Brother has very little value.
When Big Brother controls these areas using ever complex political, legal, financial, and technological systems, then Big Brother creates a need for itself and controls individuals.
John: The secure-private mindset is all about seeing the weaknesses in these complex systems so that you can take action to defend yourself, your property and your family against Big Brother's control mechanisms. You must begin to think about how these control points are used to limit your freedom.
Mark: Even a trained monkey should be able to make that connection...at least I hope so. What's the solution then?
John: You don't necessarily need a solution – first you must identify your own vulnerabilities. To take a timely example, if your business depends heavily on communicating with customers, and you make extensive use of Microsoft products in your communications, the PRISM system and the NSA have a ridiculous level of information about you and with whom you communicate, with who they communicate with as well, etc, etc. This data is regularly used to build a profile of you – probably including the fact that you're the type of individual concerned with your personal freedom and property.
Combine this information from the technology system known as the Surveillance State with the wrong political and legal systems, and you may very well find your business, finances, and freedom at risk – even if you've done nothing wrong! In fact, the very act of divulging wrong-doing is now a crime.
Mark: That's another great point. We've seen this conclusively with the IRS scandal, where the Government are using that agency to target political opponents. So the two go hand in hand. The data collection to identify targets and then the legal and political ability to do harm to same.
It might not be a problem yet, but we don't know what comes next. We don't know what kind of leaders we'll have in 10 years. We don't know what kind of events will unfold to tighten the noose even further.
John: Right! Given the trend of more government and corporate control, how long before something you did 5 or 10 years ago, which was not a crime then, could be used against you simply because you didn't develop a secure-private mindset? Governments change the rules all the time.
Mark: Regarding our personal communications now, what is the one thing that might make the biggest difference quickly?
John: The obvious solution in the above example is to minimize your dependency on Microsoft while not becoming dependent for communications on another entity. With Apple and Google both also clearly implicated in this newest surveillance scandal, it's time to look at other options that aren't controlled by a few companies that act as key control points for Big Brother. Alternatives to Skype, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Windows, Google, Mac OS, Android, iOS and other technologies exist – those should be considered.
Mark: Like what?
John: Generally speaking, open source technologies like Jitsi, Mumble, Thunderbird, Open Office, Linux, DuckDuckGo, Startpage, and literally thousands of others are available and are founded/nurtured by thousands of privacy and security-conscious software developers worldwide. This is a transition that can be started right now – with little to no cost and only a time investment in understanding the options available to you that do not put you at risk.
You can take other simple and practical steps today. First, start looking at your own vulnerabilities – what do you depend on that is controlled by some other larger, more powerful entity. Start making a list of your vulnerabilities. Is there anything simple you can do to remove some or all of the risk? Are you still receiving your bills via snail mail? Since electronic copies exist, can you remove the risk of physical snooping on mail? Are you reusing the same passwords over and over again on all of your sites? If one account is hacked by Big Brother (or anyone else!) then all of your accounts are at risk – and you may never even know.
Are all of your assets in one location, easily stolen or confiscated? Do you have your finances in one location, all easily traceable back to your name? Do you have the maximum ability to travel and relocate at will? Do you own property in your own name so it's an easy target for confiscation because it's tied to you?
Mark: Those are great points. Financial asset allocation and structuring is likely the most important and oft-neglected area for most people. The doors are closing fast there as well, and if you haven't made some preparations time is running out.
John: I get the feeling it's about to get very, very real. We're definitely past the end of the beginning, now I'm starting to believe we're at the beginning of the end.
So, start observing what Big Brother is actually doing vs. what he is saying. Don't buy the illusions – look for the vulnerabilities. Remember, the only one looking out for you, your personal liberty, and your assets is you.
Mark: Thanks John, we'll discuss more over the next couple weeks with you.
John: Sounds good, I look forward to it.
With the stage set, in our next few posts John, Chris and I will be focusing primarily on the control points of the Surveillance State, how technology is being used against us so that we can better understand where we're vulnerable, and conversely what we can do about it.
To that end we'll have an interview with the guys from Lockbox on Thursday. It's a secure and encrypted alternative to Dropbox and other insecure cloud storage solutions. They've simplified all the "geeky" stuff you used to have to know and created a turn-key file storage system that just works.
Between now and then, take an honest look at where you, your family, and your business is vulnerable to intrusion. Remember, you don't have to be doing anything wrong to be a target. Your ultimate goal should be to legally put yourself in a position where Big Brother has no leverage against you. It shouldn't be a matter of citizens having to fend off their government, but they've put themselves in that position and it's our right to protect ourselves, from any threat, foreign or domestic!
My final takeaway is this video. After you watch it, if you still think none of this is a big deal...well, God help us all!
"A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government." - Edward Abbey
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