Avoiding Being Watched

by on May 17, 2009

First, let me say that I have nothing to hide.

Well – I wouldn’t want random strangers looking at my bank statements. Medical records would also be private (although I’m sure I’d put a brave face on any public revelations). Where my kids are is also off-limits. I won’t tell you how much tax I pay (other than it’s too much), or how much I earn, what party I actually vote for, my sexual predilections, my membership of various clubs and societies, where I went on holiday and when, and … lots and lots of other things.The potential list is long. I would think that most people’s lists would be of a similar length. In reality, we have a lot we want to hide for no better reason than privacy. Living in a panopticon is not something we want to do.

As time goes on, the data associated with our private lives will migrate, either directly or indirectly, to the Internet in various ways. True, some of this will migrate voluntarily, but this is happening at a time when Internet service providers are being told to start monitoring their customers’ communications. This monitoring will be beefed up in the next few years by the activities of GCHQ (whatever that means), as well.

So what to do? There are of course the traditional methods of writing to your MP or MEP, voting for parties that say they oppose increased monitoring, etc. However, since most of the impetus for online monitoring seems to be from vested interests and ulterior motives in the name of “security” or “piracy”, and combined with the fact that in recent years most MPs seem to have been revealed as venal and self-serving, I would not think we are in much of a position to effect change through that route.

I think, therefore, that direct action may be preferable. I have recently been experimenting with I2P. I have also looked into tunnelling all my traffic through a proxy server based in the US (a DIY version of what the Pirate Bay are offering with their Ipredator service). Both look promising, although the latter is slow and fiddly, and the former is simple but expensive. But I am hopeful that we are not powerless to prevent what politicians and pressure groups would bring upon us.

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