The internet has become a digital prison… Why Congress supports online snooping… Do this to stay private online… In the mailbag: “We’re just milk cows for the government”…
In the late 18th century, English philosopher Jeremy Bentham came up with detailed designs for a new type of penitentiary.
He called it the “Panopticon” after the many-eyed Greek god Panoptes.
And it had a unique selling point. It would be cheaper than other designs because it required fewer guards to watch over the inmates.
The Panopticon was made up of a circular tower that formed the hub of a larger circular building. The jail cells were visible from the tower and could be watched over by a single guard.
But the key feature of the Panopticon was that its inmates couldn’t see inside the watchtower.
So they had to be on their best behavior at all times… whether they were being watched or not.
As we’ve been showing you here at The Daily Cut, that’s a good description of the modern internet. (Catch up here and here.)
If you use Google, Facebook, or Twitter, you’re constantly under observation. But how these companies surveil you… and what they do with the data they collect on you… isn’t clear.
They know every detail about you… but you know almost nothing about them.
Take Google Search, which handles 90% of all search queries online.
Google is monitoring and recording everything you type into its search bar (even things you start typing, then delete). But how it sorts the results is shrouded in mystery.
The same goes for Facebook’s News Feed. Facebook is watching and recording every photo, video, link, and update you interact with. But you have no idea on what basis it’s feeding you that information.
Google and Facebook are the watch guards… we all are the prisoners.
Last week, I (Chris) caught up with Legacy Research co-founder and world-renowned cryptocurrency expert Teeka Tiwari about the obliteration of online privacy.
I was calling from my office in Lisbon, Portugal… where I spend some of the year. And Teeka was in Puerto Rico – his base since the start of 2018.
To be more precise, Teeka was sitting in his car outside his home with the air conditioning turned up full blast.
In the wake of Hurricane Maria, power is still sporadic. Teeka told me he loses power every day – sometimes for up to 11 hours. So he’s turned his car into a makeshift air-conditioned office.
But it’s what Teeka told me about a new way we’re being watched and monitored online that really grabbed my attention.
Last March, Congress tore up regulations banning your internet service provider (ISP) from hawking your web browsing history to third parties.
We all connect to the web via an ISP. These are mainly Big Cable companies such as AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast that own or lease the telecommunications lines that allow you to get online.
These companies used to need your permission to collect, use, and sell information about your online habits.
But thanks in no small part to the $101 million they’ve donated to members of Congress, they’re now free to sell your personal data to the highest bidder – just as Google and Facebook do. As Teeka explained…
The rule change allows your ISP to look at all of your search history and sell it. Even when you’re surfing the web “privately” – for instance, by using a web browser that doesn’t harvest your data – your ISP is still collecting your personal data and selling it on to third parties.
You have no privacy, even though you think you do. Whatever political causes you support… whatever controversial ideas you read about… somebody somewhere knows about it.
As we told you last Thursday, the first steps to shoring up your privacy online are to: (1) Delete Facebook; (2) De-Google your life; (3) Buy a “dumb” phone; and (4) use an encrypted messaging service.
To combat the ISP snoops, Teeka also recommends you do what he does to stay private online… and use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
VPNs allow you to communicate over a public network in a private way. Without getting too far into the weeds, they do this by encrypting your data… and by masking the internet address you’re connecting from.
Privacy coins are cryptocurrencies that make your transactions untraceable. (We covered this in the August 23 Daily Cut.) Teeka…
With bitcoin, if somebody – say, the feds – does a forensic deep dive, they can figure out who’s on each end of each transaction. The chances of that happening, unless you’re a criminal, are very low because it’s very expensive to do a forensic analysis. But it’s still possible.
Privacy coins such as Monero (XMR) or Dash (DASH) completely obscure you as the sender. They also obscure the receiver. This allows you to buy a VPN in private. It also allows you to donate to causes that maybe other people would judge you for.
And that’s hugely important. After all, you shouldn’t be judged or discriminated against based upon what political beliefs you hold.
The first step to get your hands on privacy coins is to buy bitcoin or ether. If you’ve never done it before, check out this guide our crypto experts at Palm Beach Research Group put together. It shows you where to buy and store bitcoin.
After you buy bitcoin, you can trade it for Dash on the Kraken exchange or Monero on the Poloniex exchange.
One top-rated VPN that allows you to pay with Monero and Dash is Nord VPN. It’ll cost you less than $3 a month. And it will keep your ISP – and any other online snoops – from linking you to your data.
Tomorrow, a deeper dive into the rise of the crypto economy with Teeka… including the only two questions you need to ask to know where the crypto market is headed over the long term.
At the end of Thursday’s Daily Cut, “Your Guide to ‘Going Dark’ Online,” we asked what you value more: privacy or protection from the threat of terrorism. And the answers poured in…
But first, one dear reader offers a disturbing view of life inside a Surveillance State…
Before their collapse I traveled extensively in the USSR and the Comecon (Iron Curtain) countries. Their surveillance was not as well organized as in China obviously because there was no internet then.
Nevertheless, I can tell you that people lived in fear of the security services, their neighbors, and even their family members. No internet meant that the security services tapped phones and encouraged citizens to monitor and report on their fellow citizens.
Unless they were members of the Communist party, people’s career prospects were limited and they lived dreary, stressed lives.
Most avoided contact with foreigners as it could lead to trouble with the authorities. They made virtually no visits to non-Comecon countries and if they were permitted to leave for a short trip, next of kin had to remain behind as an insurance that they would return.
At the end of the day, it was self-defeating; masses of useless information, an ossified society, broken spirits and economic ruin. How it will turn out this time I have no idea.
– Martin H.
Now, back to what your fellow readers value most…
I have no intention of relinquishing my constitutional rights and freedoms to a government that pretends to protect and care about me. Know this: We’re just milk cows for the government, and when we run out of milk, well hey, then there’s meat.
– Patrick F.
I believe that the terrorist risk is minimal. I am much more concerned with losing my freedom.
– Larry K.
From my perspective, Congress has abridged my right of free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment. I did not willingly sacrifice my right of free speech in exchange for protection against “terrorism.” And no, I have nothing to hide.
– Edrick F.
Right now, I would say that I’m more concerned about surveillance. However, if any of my loved ones were blown up at the mall by a suicide bomber, would I still answer the question the same way? I’m not sure.
Key to my answer would be whether I thought a higher level of surveillance would have prevented that occurrence. That would be a very difficult thing to know.
– Charles H.
I strongly oppose a Surveillance Society. It has been a major concern of mine for years, and I actually have nothing to hide. I just see Big Brother growing and it disturbs me.
– Duane L.
Fear of terrorists, drug smugglers and money launderers is only a joke if we look at the numbers and the possibility of it happening to you. We know it’s only about power and control.
– Samuel J.
Where do you stand on this? Let us know at [email protected].
September 4, 2018
P.S. Tomorrow, representatives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter will answer questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee about how these platforms police content.
Most likely, it will be yet another chance for lawmakers to prove how technologically illiterate they are. But if anything comes of it, we’ll be sure to let you know in future issues.