(Continued from Part 3. This concludes the article.)
I’ll let the reader research computer, email privacy, and encryption on their own but I do have two things I’ll pass on.
When I hover the mouse pointer over a file in one of my computer folders, a box opens above it showing the author, title (which is actually my LibreOffice template name), computer owner, and date among other things. There are two ways to prevent this from exposing personal information about me than I’d prefer when I share documents or photographs.
First, when setting up a new computer I don’t supply any real information. Those who’ve already done so can edit the info. For the name of the computer owner, I use a fictional character like George Jetson or name of a like Patrick Henry or Thomas Jefferson.
For the “Author” attribution when I’m setting up a program like LibreOffice, I use a different fictional character.
The second method is to strip a document or photo of all possible details before sharing it. To do this, open the folder and right click on the name of the document or photo you wish to delete personal info from. At the very bottom of the screen click on “Properties.” On the next screen, click on the “Details” tab and then at the very bottom in blue font, “Remove Properties and Personal Information.” You’ll see at the top of the next screen “Create a Copy With All Possible Properties Removed.” After clicking “Okay,” the author, computer owner, time, total times edited, and date will all be removed. The file can now be sent without revealing your personal information. When sharing the file, be sure to use the one that says “Copy.” To prevent mistakes, after removing all properties I delete the original file and keep just the copy. [JWR Adds: There is a piece of software that I habitually use called EXIF Purge that accomplishes the same process, with just two mouse clicks.]
I recently bought a new laptop. Instead of transferring all the data from my old computer to the new one, including writings, photos, spreadsheets, etc. I transferred it all to a memory stick which I put it in a safe fireproof place with a backup in another spot. If the files need accessing, I know where to get them. I didn’t realize until then how infrequently I even access any of those files. I update my few laptop files on a smaller-capacity memory stick once or twice a month.
There’s not a whole lot we can do about the NSA, FBI, and their co-conspirators if we’re using any sort of technology such as the internet, cell phones, credit cards, or driving some of the newer cars. With them, privacy is tortured and dead, laying in an unmarked grave somewhere under the ashes of the Constitution.
The last time the satellite photos of my area were updated, I could tell which week the photos were taken. I had one project that was complete and the next one was just beginning, as well as the color of a new piece of machinery that was sitting in front of my shop. I could the number of trusses on the new project and clearly see how many beehives I have. Based on the chimney shadow I can tell within 30 minutes the time of day the photo was taken. We the People only see low-resolution copies of the photos but government satellite cameras have a publicly-disclosed “official” resolution of 5 cm (2”). That means they can tell when your black coffee in a white cup is empty and needs a refill. If the true resolution is 2.5 cm (1”) they can tell if you’re holding a toad or a Twinkie in your open hand. If the true resolution is 1 cm, then you better get those nose hairs trimmed before stretching out in your hammock.
The NSA wrote the book on invading privacy and tracking every detail of our lives. Nobody at the NSA is actually sitting down and reading all our emails and texts, listening to our phone calls (which are converted to text files via speech-to-text programs,) or scanning through which blogs we read and which stories are of particular interest to us. But since any high school computer geek can write the code necessary to sort all our information, place us into categories, and group us with like-minded people, we can rest assured it’s being done.
With the NSA’s capabilities and database indexing, if they need a list of left-handed redheaded MAGA gun owners over the age of 50 who live in Boise, Idaho and drive F-150s made prior to 1999 whose registration will expire in July of 2023, the list can be created instantaneously. Think of their database as their own Internet containing every single piece of information there is to know about each and every one of us. The NSA only needs that info in real time for current nuisances like Tucker Carlson, Elon Musk, Seymour Hersh, and others who are trying their best to upset the apple cart. If you’ve read any of Tucker Carlson’s experiences with the NSA, supposedly confirmed by his congressman, you’ll have little doubt about NSA activity and capabilities.
The rest of us remain dormant in our categorized folders until the creeping tyranny in our country necessitates they start looking much more closely at certain groups. When it’s time to confiscate guns and/or gun accessories, 95% of owners are already in the Gun-Owner folder regardless of the fact that they always bought their guns from a second party and never filled out paperwork. If your browser history is being logged, then just clicking on firearms articles on the Internet, mentioning the Second Amendment, correcting somebody in a blog comment about the difference between a clip and a magazine, or visiting those types of blogs will get us on the list. Clicking on one of Pat Cascio’s or Thomas Christianson’s firearm reviews on SurvivalBlog and remaining there for more than a minute or two will get you on the list. When it comes time to illegalize and confiscate gold again as Roosevelt did, they’ll have a good list of where to knock on doors and whose doors to kick down if people aren’t giving it up voluntarily.
“Who Cares?, I Have Nothing to Hide”
I can’t even express how disheartening it is to me when I all too frequently hear people say they don’t care about all the Big Brother technology overtaking our lives. “It doesn’t apply to me, I have nothing to hide.” Millions of people throughout history have thought the same thing. Then one day, overnight, legal things they’d been doing became illegal and they were sent away to rot in concentration camps, gulags, and prisons, or just disappeared. Our normalcy bias tells us it can’t happen here but tyranny can happen anywhere and eventually does. Things we can’t imagine now will at some point affect us all and we’ll regret that the Powers That Be have so much information on each of us. In the possible event that such things as confiscations come to pass in my lifetime, I hope my name not being connected with my address will at least give me a little working room to do the things that need doing before the powers that be show up at my door.
My reasons for wanting anonymity aren’t to hide from bill collectors, stalkers, or the IRS. They’re for legitimate reasons including what I consider to be the very real probability that events in this country will take a turn for the worst, even much more so than they already have.
The NSA is hardly concerned about an opinionated, two-bit, geezified, libertarian, anti-government, anti-war, blows-a-lot-of-smoke nut job like me who lacks certain social skills and was born without that little knob in his brain that tells us when to shut the h*ll up. The NSA has bigger fish to fry for now.
But just being in the various folders the NSA and other agencies have me grouped in gives me reasons to prefer anonymity as much as I do just in case the full-blown Orwellian future gets here more quickly than I’m planning on.
In closing, for those wishing to greatly increase their privacy it’s a good idea to start as soon as possible. Those wanting the ultimate amount of privacy possible will have to develop a whole new way of looking at things, be willing to make some major changes, and give up some conveniences. It’s not easy but can be done. For some, it will be a fun challenge.
For those planning on moving to a new address at some time in the future, right now is the time to start planning on how to accomplish maximizing your OPSEC. You’ll never have a better opportunity, or an easier one, so think it all out ahead of time and have a written plan so you don’t miss any important details. Read some books to understand all the variables and get prepared for your move way ahead of time. Start using cash more, get a P.O. box and get into the habit of using one. An LLC can be obtained long before you want to buy some real estate. When you’ve found the ultimate piece of property and your fingers are just itching to sign the contract is not the time to start wondering how to get an LLC. Emotions will rule the day and you’ll end up saying to heck with it and sign the papers, missing a huge opportunity. Think of an LLC as an empty suitcase: you buy the LLC and then later on you begin adding things to it like real estate as it becomes necessary.
I can recommend J.J. Luna’s How to be Invisible as a good guide for anyone wishing to get serious about their privacy. The book is easy to understand with lots of entertaining real-life stories as examples. Even though I have the older 2004 edition the majority of the info is still valid. The newer edition would be better and there are many similar books that will help you accomplish the same purpose so do some research and read reviews. If none of the reviewers are using the word “paranoid,” then keep looking. They’re obviously oblivious to the concept of OPSEC and where our country is headed.
How To Be Invisible and related books are not for most people. They are for those seeking as much anonymity as possible, who can think out of the box and dispense with certain conveniences to make it happen. Were it not for this book and reading it ahead of time, I would have missed the perfect opportunity to maximize my OPSEC while I was relocating and building my homestead: a fresh start in a new state, new physical address using a rental house while I searched for property, new PO box, driver’s license, etc. and then not updating my address with anyone when I moved to my finished homestead. For anyone moving to a new location who wishes to maximize their privacy, the book lays out the steps to make it happen. For those not making a big life change, this book and similar ones still have lots to offer, it will just take longer to achieve the goal.
I’ve enjoyed the challenge of trying to be as invisible as possible. It’s comforting knowing I’m less visible than most people. As a prepper striving for self-reliance and not liking where the country and world are headed, my degree of privacy allows me to rest a little easier while sitting on the Group W Bench at my homestead, sipping hot coffee and watching the sunrise.