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Government Surveillance: How you're treated as a criminal, and what you can do to protect yourself
This is a daughter post of Self-Defense in the Information Age.
For my sister article on ways governments track you in the online world, and how you can retain anonymity and privacy, see Anonymous Browsing: How governments track you in the online world.
Tracking in the Real World
Loyalty cards at supermarkets and other stores
They create a database of your shopping habits, how aware you are of nutritious food and the various poisons like Aspartame, HFCS, Transfats, etc. This is a good approximation of how aware someone is of the world around them. People who don't mindlessly eat everything off the shelf are a potential threat to the establishment since they have demonstrated that they can think for themselves.
How to beat it: Don't use loyalty cards. Always pay in cash. Use multiple stores to make it harder to track what you buy.
Your bank tracks your every move
It also archives it. Forever. Whether you've checked into a hotel, reserved tickets on a flight, or paid for a tollbooth on the road. Everything you do with your bank card is tracked.
How to beat it: Stop using your bank for everything in the first place. Use it only when necessary. There may come a time, and TPTB want it badly, when we'll have a completely cashless economy. Sweden is already implementing this, but while you have the ability to use cash, why aren't you taking advantage of it?
Secondly, use multiple banks. The next time you're on vacation, open a foreign bank account. Withdraw money at an ATM, and then proceed to spend it on your shopping.
Even without loyalty cards, if you use your credit card to purchase groceries, the government can use your bank and supermarket to match the cost and time of your shopping and figure out your habits. As databases become more fully integrated, this kind of cross-referencing becomes simple and automated.
It's a veritable gold mine of information. Letters, bank statements, phone bills, receipts, ripped up print-outs from the internet. Even your magazine subscriptions.
How to beat it: Get a shredder. After shredding any paper that may contains information about you, burn it. Then flush the ashes down the toilet.
They record your every move, and then store it for who knows how long. The average person in London, the police state capital of the world, appears on camera around 300 times a day.
How to beat it: Wear a hat (hoodies are suspicious and will get you noticed more). Don't wear the same clothes all the time, change up your wardrobe every now and then.
Don't patronize stores that have video cameras everywhere. Stop rewarding them with your custom for breaching your privacy and video-stalking you.
Also don't fall for the lie that surveillance cameras are there to reduce crime. Studies have shown that surveillance cameras help solve roughly 1 crime in 1,000. In other words, they're almost completely useless.
However, once you realize that their real purpose is to spy on you, and not catch criminals (who, after all, are busy operating the cameras), all while making you believe they're for your own good, then they've been quite successful.
Cellphone tower triangulation
Even if you don't use or have GPS, cellphone tower triangulation can still detect your approximate location, and track you throughout the day.
How to beat it: Unless you really need it for work, stop walking around with your cellphone turned on all the time. Turn it on only when you need it, or leave it at home when you don't. You'll thank me later when those 15+ year studies of cellphone effects on cancer reveal that it's not as safe as manufacturers would like you to think.
Locating you based on your WiFi connection
You know how in the absence of 3g connectivity, you can still get an approximate location on Google Maps because of the WiFi hotspots around you? Think of this as similar to the cellphone tower triangulation, except more precise.
How to beat it: Spoof your Mac address (see below), and make sure to access the web through a proxy.
There's no denying how useful mapping services are, but by using them, you are basically telling Google where you are, where you're heading to, and what places of the world you're interested in (and hence might potentially bug-out to).
How to beat it: Get yourself an offline mapping service and make sure it doesn't connect to the internet. You could even use Google maps deliberately to create a misleading profile of where you visit.
GPS in your car and phone
Everywhere you go in your car, or while using the GPS in your phone, is recorded. You're wearing a tracking anklet, and you're not even a criminal! You are, however, a prisoner.
How to beat it: Use a map and compass! How did people navigate for millennia before the invention of GPS?
These are all over the place. New bank cards come out with RFID chips built-in, and there's active propaganda that seeks to implant RFID chips subcutaneously into people.
Sounds like dystopian Science Fiction? Watch the Verichip commercial.
How you can beat it: Never allow anyone to insert an RFID chip into you. And for extra motivation, it's possible that these implants cause cancer.
As for the RFID chips in your bank cards, simply purchase an RFID blocking wallet or card holder. They're decently cheap, and that way you can continue carrying around your bank cards without being wirelessly tracked like an animal.
Countries around the world, especially in Europe, are pushing for implementation of biometrics on passports and identity cards. My current nationality intends to implement such a system this year.
How to beat it: I'm going to change nationality. I'd rather go through the hassle of obtaining a new nationality with a country that respects my privacy, than fork over my retinal scans and fingerprints like a criminal dog.
If you let them tag you, you're letting them treat you like cattle.
Do you really see a huge difference between Nazis tattooing identification numbers on their concentration camp prisoners, and governments around the world collecting tracking data on you?
I don't. The only difference is one of technology. The Nazis has low-tech tyranny; we have high-tech tyranny.
Our world is becoming a prison, and we're walking into it willingly.