What Is Going on?
I dont know if you had read this story in the last week, but ill summarize if you havent. Attorney General Eric Holder gave the NCTC (National Counter Terrorism Center) NEW powers to store dossiers on U.S. citizens, “EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT SUSPECTED OF A CRIME”
Previously Law had prohibited the center from storing data on U.S. Citizens unless there was a suspicion of terrorist activity, now this was already a slipper slope as there is no standard definition or guidelines published as to what constitutes “suspicion of terrorist activity”. Now that small amount of shaky ground is completely gone, you dont have to be suspected of anything, have said anything, have done anything or even WANT to do anything. Grandma Rose or Little Jimmy can now legally have dossiers produced on them using compiled government databases, anything from flight records, to IRS documents to casino employee lists.
The NCTC will now collect this information, store it and analyze it for “Suspicious patterns of behavior”, if “suspicious activity” is found this can mean a full blown investigation, wiretaps, requests for information from your facebook, Gmail, whatever.
Another interesting part is that these databases of information ON US CITIZENS ALLOW IT TO BE SHARED BY FOREIGN GOVERNMENT FOR THEIR OWN ANALYSIS.
The Wall Street Journal originally broke the story and now the government is trying to downplay it…
“The guidelines provide rigorous oversight to protect the information that we have, for authorized and narrow purposes,” Alexander Joel, Civil Liberties Protection Officer for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told the paper.
Of course these guidelines are just that, amorphous, ambiguous guidelines from the governments own “Civil Liberties Protection Officer”, that we are just supposed to take at face value and say
“Well we dont know what these guidelines are, but they say they have some and they have a government employee watching the government and im sure hell keep them honest”
These new rules allow the NCTC to collect information form almost any government database that they claim is “Reasonably believed” to contain “Terrorist information”. Since all student loans are now Federal this can include those as well as any Federal Backed Mortgages and in a few years your health records.
The Bush Administration attempted to do something similar in regards to surveillance of American citizens, but they were stopped after widespread anger, however Obama has done this almost silently and without any disagreement.
I dont have any hard evidence, but I can guarantee you that the NSA and NCTC monitors and analyzes internet activity of citizens in the U.S. and abroad, taking in vast information such as what you search for, what you buy, what sites to you go to, who you send emails to, etc. They then analyze that, if you show “suspicious” activity I guarantee you, you are on a list somewhere, as well as all your friends. This is another reason to be careful who you “Friend” on facebook or where you browse, Even if you dont hold the same sentiment if someone posts on facebook they want to do harm to someone high up or along those lines, be sure that you will be caught in the wide net of data mining.
What Can I do?
I previously mentioned a few things in past posts like Cryptocat, but I will try to do a good general overview of what you can do to safeguard yourself to a degree from prying eyes on the internet.
Your email is very much a open book to the sorts of ‘entities’ you dont want looking in on it. A program called PGP (pretty good privacy) encrypts your emails so that only the person you are sending the email to or vice versa can read it. PGP is free for download and has been prominent in Prepper boards and forums for a long time, That being said it lives up to its name, it is “Pretty Good” however it is not uncrackable regardless of what the FAQ may say on the site. It is good, and will do the job for you unless you are under some damn serious scrutiny from some NSA types.
Now I talked about Cryptocat before, as mentioned above, but ill go over it again. Basically this Hacker developed it so that people in different countries can talk to each other without having to worry about government intrusion and spying. It truly does bring online encrypted conversations to the masses, and from what ive been able to find out Its VERY good. Basically its a plug in (an add on function) for your browser. When you go to the site is detects what browser you are using and offers you the specific download for that browser. you then install it, and the little icon appears on your browser. Once you click on that you can then enter the “name” of the “room” you want to go to, or create your own. Only the people you want to give that name to can get access to it, however i wouldnt choose a name like “Dog” or “Kitten” as that is pretty easy to guess, and people could just do random searches and stop by, I would pick something very very very random, even going to the length or using a random number generator to do so, so its nearly impossible to guess (ill go over a site that can give you those as well).
So if you pick something like “4nd834djf934233″ and give that to your fellow preppers of compatriots it would nearly be impossible to figure it out. you can then chat in the “room” with complete privacy. The service is free and safe. However when you do this you have to be aware if you send an email to someone saying “at 7pm get on the cat and go to room “28dn349dk”, if someone is reading your email they can figure it out, same with facebook or even over the phone, so you have to be aware of this and make plans accordingly, one way is to have a “one time pad” which is basically a list of random numbers that are used, that everyone in the group has for example….
you could designate it to go just down the line or right to left, etc. every time you would meet you could just send out a mass email “hey meet at the cat chat 7pm” everyone would pull out their pads and look at the next one in line and know that it is “95457″ (using this example pad) this way everyone has perhaps a months/years worth or designated random numbers to use. This isnt foolproof if someone loses it or its found and copied you are back at square one, so if you are serious you would want them to be good for a short period of time, and have a good way of distributing them away from prying eyes. This is all very basic and you can learn alot more about cryptography and its modern applications here. You could also go to here for how to make your own one time use pads, which is free.
RANDOM NUMBER GENERATORS
This kind of goes along with the Make your own one time use pad, but for individual unique random numbers for things such as passwords, I would go here, select one, and use that for your email, select another use that for facebook, select another and use that for your bank accounts, and so on and so forth, this way if ONE is compromised only one aspect of your privacy is, and not the whole shebang. We arent just talking about nosy nellie government agencies but also Hackers as well. Random.org offers services to create random number passwords from 6-24 characters, as well as numerous other services, the password generator is free.
In a perfect world the government would respect the individual citizens right to look at, search for and visit whatever site they wanted without having to worry about them watching and collecting that information to be analyzed, however it is not a perfect world. I am not doing anything illegal, however its my damn right to not be catalogued alongside terrorist, as it is your right as well. TOR is a great program and you download it and install it just like you would firefox or Internet Explorer, but this Browser allows you to randomize your ISP address (everytime or daily depending on settings) so you can browse without whatever you are browsing being linked back to your ISP address, thus YOU as the citizen. In some countries certain news sites are blocked or other modes of information, and this allows them to view it by appearing to be someone from somewhere else, it also stops websites from tracking you and data mining and gathering information. In case you dont know wherever you are reading this from, whether its a home computer or laptop, your ISP address is your unique identifier, it lets say amazon.com know that you Joe Smith are returning to amazon and they can put out products on the front page that you are more likely to buy, or for those Google adword advertisements to target advertisements based on your searching habits, etc. In those cases it can be annoying but its not malicious however if you search for “concealed pistol holster” and “government conspiracies” this being linked to your ISP may not be such a good thing, even though you are just wanting a holster to carry to defend yourself and you are interested in alternative theories of major events. Doesnt make you a terrorist.
Another thing i have used in the past is “NINJACLOAK” which is a site that you go to, and then you can enter the address of the site you want to view in the bar at the bottom of the page, or even go to google, search it and have that site or search not be connected to your ISP address. Now Tor the need to go to this site everytime out of equation and jsut offers you secure web browsing, but it is another tool, for say when you are at a public location.
However I do feel i need to say this, I do not advocate using this for illegal means or if you are up to no good, for gods sake go to the mountains and live alone, dont harm anyone, I am interested in protecting the privacy of honest American and Global Citizens not protecting you from being caught doing bad things. If you are a shitbird, I hope that you do get caught and rot in jail.
Once Again those programs are as follows
NINJA CLOAK: http://www.ninjacloak.com/
ONE TIME USE PAD: http://www.fourmilab.ch/onetime/otpjs.html