Digital Diversification: How to Do It

digital diversificationThank God for Edward Snowden. I used to warn people about surveillance and the death of privacy, but most of them found it hard to believe me; it was just too far out of the mainstream. Not so anymore.

Just as the diversification of investments has become crucial, so has digital diversification. Not only are the Western nations (especially the US and UK) abusing every piece of data they can touch, but the Hollywood/DC complex has been throwing around their power thuggishly. It’s way beyond suing 12-year-old girls, by the way; if you haven’t seen the raid on Kim Dotcom’s house, you really should. And not only are they forcibly shutting down many web services, but they are pushing laws that allow the Hollywood studios to break into your computer – legally.

Since I have been involved with an international privacy company (Cryptohippie.com) for some time, let me report to you what we have found on the subject of digital diversification.

Privacy Laws

The first thing many people think about for digital diversification is privacy laws. I’m sorry to tell you, however, that they don’t matter very much. They can be important for networks and data centers, but not often for individual users.

The reason for this is the international construction of the Internet. Your Internet traffic (surfing, email, Skype, whatever) is not contained within any single country – it flies right past national borders without the slightest delay.

Making things worse, it probably passes through the United States, whose NSA grabs it all and shares or sells it to god knows who. (Again, I refer you to Mr. Snowden, as well as to William Binney, Russell Tice, and Mark Klein, previous whistle-blowers.)

Take a look at this representation of world Internet traffic, and notice that nearly all of it passes through the US.

digital diversification

So, regardless of local privacy laws, your Internet traffic will more than likely be grabbed by the US and UK. (Not to mention non-government data thieves.)

The Copyright Thugs

As noted above, the Intellectual Property (IP) thugs have been unleashed, and they have often ruined businesses for the ‘crime’ of merely linking to a site where some kind of pirated music, video, or software may have been found. To avoid these excesses of law, you definitely do not want your server to be located inside the US, or in any country that cooperates too closely with the US government.

Which locations to choose depends on what you want to do with your server. Here are some examples:

  1. If you run a very simple, static site, just for fun and with no controversial content, you can pick anywhere that gives you a good price and fast access (even the US). But don’t allow links to be posted by users. If they link to a copy of Braveheart, you could have a problem on your hands.
  2. If you want a server (or a virtual server, which is smaller and cheaper) and you want to allow people to post comments, go offshore. If your site is very simple, will see little traffic, and requires very little in the way of resources, you can go with anything you find. But if you choose a server in the Caribbean, for example, be aware that your server may fall offline from time to time. (I know from personal experience as well as reports from others.)
  3. If you will see more traffic, make sure to check on the connection your data center (where your server is located) has to the Internet. The larger the connection and the larger the number of connections to international fibers, the better. You will, of course, pay more for these servers.
  4. If you run a professional service, look for data centers that will give you real customer service. You cannot allow your professional service to just vanish for a few days, while you track down a technician who likely doesn’t speak your language. In our experience, servers in central and northern Europe are the best choice: Switzerland, Holland, Germany, Austria, and so on. The laws there are fairly good for networks, and the data centers employ professional technicians. You’ll have to pay more, of course, but if you’re running a serious service, it is well worth it.

Political Persecution

If you’re running a Free Tibet web site, or anything like it, consider first who your enemies are likely to be, then avoid them and their allies – rent your servers somewhere that they and their friends are not.

The Dutch have long prided themselves in shielding such groups, so the Netherlands may be a good choice. (Some of the Scandinavians have taken that position as well.) But take a look at other politically persecuted web sites and see where they keep their servers.

And DO tell the data center what you are doing. If they know, they may very well protect you as best they can; but if not, your site will come down, probably at the first attack.

Surveillance

There is nowhere on the planet that is free from surveillance now – it’s simply too cheap, too easy, and too profitable.

The BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) are planning fiber optic cables that they do not share with the US or UK, so data centers on that line may be a better choice at some point. Rest assured, however, that Russia, China, et al, will be running their own surveillance. It will merely be a question of who is reading all your traffic.

Protection from surveillance requires encryption and an anonymity network. We covered that in a previous article, here.

Last Thoughts

It doesn’t take a lot of time or a lot of effort to secure your digital world, but you have to DO IT. Most people don’t want to be bothered and just go with whatever someone else is willing to set up for them.

But you wouldn’t diversify your finances based on the word of a friend’s brother-in-law, would you?

Likewise, don’t build your digital world blindly, taking the first and easiest option you can find. This doesn’t require weeks of work, but it does require some thought and some effort. It will be a good investment of your time.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

“Digital Diversification: How to Do It”  was originally published at InternationalMan.com

Personal and Online Privacy: If you have nothing to hide, why do you care?

Personal and Online Privacy: If you have nothing to hide, why do you care?We’ve all heard the insulting, tyrannical cliché about privacy: If you have nothing to hide, why do you care?

The comeback, if not that it would fall on deaf ears, should be this: Because I value myself.

The real value of privacy is not because it allows us to hide things, it’s that privacy allows us to develop independently – according to our own natures.

In other words, privacy is an essential tool for personal development.

Privacy is a positive good, not merely a tool for hiding things.

Deconstructing the Cliché

Before we get to the core of this issue, we really should deconstruct this dirty slogan we opened with. Consider the implications of the words if you have nothing to hide:

  • First of all, it is an accusation and an insult, implying that you are engaging in evil.
  • Secondly, it is a threat to turn you in to the authorities.
  • Thirdly, it implies that the entity you are hiding from is supremely righteous and morally superior.

Fundamentally, this slogan is a weapon. It is used to intimidate and confuse you; to force you to bow down to authority; to be as cowardly and compliant as the person using it.

The users of such slogans are angry that you are showing them up in courage. They want you to be in the center of the enforcer’s gun-sites, just like they are.

Now, as to the party that these people think we shouldn’t be hiding from… do they mean governments? If so, they are slandering themselves, since they almost certainly complain about governments endlessly.

The idea that a government is somehow morally superior to us is ridiculous. By any objective standard they are far worse than an average working guy. Pretending that our overlords are righteous is a superstition of the basest kind.

Privacy and Self-Development

Let me start with a quote from a French author whose name escapes me at the moment:

Everything from without informs man that he is nothing. All within tells him that he is everything.

It so happens that one of the better psychologists of our time is a friend of mine. He says that up to half of what we are, we owe to the previous choices we’ve made. (The other factors being heredity and environment.) But, whatever the numbers, choice is the only factor we can do anything about

The truth is that our choices form us. They make us what we are.

What we are next year will be a reflection of the choices we make today. But, choices that are imposed on us from outside – edicts, intimidations, fears, manipulations – work against our healthy development.

People wouldn’t go through the work of imposing choices if those people would make the same choices naturally. Only if you want people to choose against nature do you try to push them in a particular direction.

So, the pre-packaged choices that are thrust upon us daily are not working in our interests, they are working in someone else’s interests. Are we really to think that such choices are best for us?

To develop ourselves healthfully, we must develop ourselves by ourselves, without outside pressures.

The less we are able to choose freely, the less we are really ourselves, and the more we become what other people want us to be.

The positive value of privacy is that it stands between us and manipulative outside forces.

Privacy allows us to grow according to our own natures, not according to the demands of a collective.

Privacy is a tool for becoming what we authentically are.

The Hedge of Anonymity

Anonymity allows us to develop our interactions with the outside world in healthy ways, rather than in manipulated ways.

We have all been intimidated by fear of what others might say. This has stopped us from doing and saying many things, and that wasn’t good for us. Intimidation is clearly an enemy. Anonymity protects us from this enemy by removing any way for consequences to come back to us.

Anonymity allows people to put their ideas into a public square while insulated from shame. So what if some of those thoughts are not good? Once spoken in the public square, they can be tried, analyzed and improved. It is profitable for us that this should occur more, rather than less.

Forget the stories of anonymous people being nasty – those comprise a tiny fraction of the whole and are used for the sake of fear and manipulation. (Humans massively over-respond to fear.)

If You Have Nothing To Hide…

I hide things because I wish to develop in my own way, not in the ways that manipulators wish me to develop. Anyone who says that this is wrong is also telling me that I was born to be a slave.

Only those things that are reliably private are protected from the modern world’s ambient environment of intimidation. It is in those environments that we can develop in our own ways, without obstruction and opposition.

Conditions of privacy or anonymity are almost the only conditions that allow for healthy development.

I think we can all agree that prayer has long been used in personal development. So perhaps Jesus had some of this in mind when he said:

When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.

But if the sloganeers are right, Jesus was a bad man, hiding his evil deeds from morally superior overlords. They would have slapped him with their nasty little slogan, just like they do us:

So, Jesus, why do you need to pray in secret, if you have nothing to hide?

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Credit: This article was inspired by a paper circulating in the darknet called The Treasure of Privacy.

[“Personal and Online Privacy: If you have nothing to hide, why do you care?” was originally published on LewRockwell.com]

The Cure For Surveillance Capitalism

Now that people are gaining some understanding of Surveillance Capitalism, I’d like to explain how we can – and can’t – protect ourselves from it.

Surveillance Capitalism functions on volume: The more data they have on you, the more valuable each piece of data becomes. What your watchers really need is the correlation between What and Who. Once they have that, all the other pieces – when, how much, in response to what and so on – are easy to put together. That’s when they can sell or trade that information profitably. And so you have some idea of just how profitably, consider that Google (Alphabet) took in $162 billion in 2019.

Remember, these people have access to almost everything you send over the Internet. Anything you send without protection becomes theirs – every email, web site visit, chat and wifi login – and the more they gather, then more money they make.

To make things worse, Google gives free tools to web developers. Using them makes the developer’s job easier, but it also redirects the information that goes through all those sites right back to Google. If you run Firefox or Brave with the NoScript extension (and I highly recommend that you do), you’ll see this almost every time you look.

And let’s be clear about one thing: Surveillance Capitalists wouldn’t fight for your information unless they meant to use it in ways you wouldn’t.

Back in 2009, Google’s boss bragged that he knew what you’d be doing on Tuesday morning, and sadly he wasn’t lying. It has become worse every year since.

The Exits

Surveillance is a real-life Matrix. The very model of the Internet over the past fifteen years – the “forever free stuff” model – is Surveillance Capitalism incarnate. Everything has been rigged against the sanctity of your identity and your personal information. Stealing and using your data is the only way most of these businesses can make money.

So, since a Matrix can’t allow its victims an easy escape, we can more or less forget about some new law saving us. Laws are passed only if political donors will be protected, and surveillance capitalists are among the biggest donors. Laws that gut their business model will not be permitted. Perhaps a few small steps will be made, but you’re never going to influence Senator X better than Facebook or Google.

The first way to escape, then, is simply to not give them data. And that means either avoiding the Internet altogether, or finding ways to avoid the correlation between What and Who. And we do that with systems that look like this:

What you’re seeing here are cryptographically secure mixes. Internet signals (from Persons A, B, C and D) run through two or more random cascades, making identity very difficult to track. What is separated from Who.

Doing this well requires at least two “hops” in separate jurisdictions, so that correlation stays ahead of professional surveillors.

Now I’m going to give you a list of things you want for separating your What from your Who. This is tech jargon, so don’t worry about it until you need to ask questions about anonymity systems. Then pull out this list and ask if they have each item:

  • A jurisdictionally aware network.
  • Anonymous authentication.
  • Their own DNS server
  • Their own key infrastructure.

Encryption Isn’t Enough

Encryption seems to be on everyone’s lips these days, and while encryption is a wonderful and essential technology, it doesn’t separate What from Who. If your Internet traffic isn’t anonymized, surveillance still blows through it. It boils down to this:

  • Encrypted means only that your message can’t be read. It can still be seen. Anyone can learn who you speak to, when, and for how long.
  • Anonymity means that no one knows who is speaking to whom.

So then, you need both encryption and anonymity. Otherwise the people who buy data sets from Microsoft, Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter will still know everything essential about you: Which sibling you communicate with most often, which vacation you’re interested in, which co-worker you’re closest to and so on, without much limit.

Now you know.