Combating Big Brother — How Far Will You Go?

September 11 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future
Category: Social Issues   Year: General   Rating: 5 Hot

We’ve seen it in all the best science fiction movies — people going to extreme lengths to avoid being seen by big brother. There’s Quaid removing a tracking device in his head through his nose, there’s Anderton having his eyes replaced with someone else in order to escape iris scans, and let’s not forget Vincent in GATTACA having to go through extreme morning rituals to make sure none of his own DNA is picked up by the Hoovers.

Already today there are some interesting products that claim to protect your privacy from “Big Brother.” There’s the software you can load onto a USB storage device making your Internet activities not only encrypted, but portable to any computer you happen to use (you can put it together yourself or buy one through Paypal). There’s Hide My Ass!, one of a group of websites that allow you to keep your IP address anonymous as well as visit sites your work or school may have blocked. And for people looking over your shoulder? You may want to check out Ghostzilla which quickly makes any webpage you look at appear as part of a regular computer application.

So if these are the lengths we’re already going to in order to ensure you keep your privacy, what might we see in the future?

DNA Altering — Fingerprint removal is so 90’s (Se7en, Men in Black), and with DNA evidence able to be pulled from just about anything, getting rid of your fingerprints just isn’t what it’s cracked up to be anymore. In fact, even if you manage to burn off your fingerprints, chances are the scars that are left will be unique in themselves which means you’re still out of luck. Already we’re seeing DNA evidence going through such scrutiny that even the slightest difference in DNA down to just a few different nucleotides might be enough to convince a jury of a person’s innocence. That’s where DNA altering comes in. With about 95% of what makes up DNA classified as Junk DNA, chances are messing around with a few nucleotides isn’t going to kill you or make you grow an extra leg. But if it does, at least you won’t be found guilty.

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UK Doing its Best to Become Dystopian with Mobile Fingerprint Scanners

October 27 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Security   Year: 2010   Rating: 5 Hot

The UK police are implementing a new policy which has civil liberty groups in an uproar. Called Project Midas, it aims to put small Blackberry-like fingerprint scanners in the hands of police within the next two years. This will allow police to confirm the identity (7.5 million prints on record and climbing) of people they detain.

Officials claim that the fingerprint records will only be used for identification and all fingerprints obtained by the device will be erased. But after reading about the British bomb-sniffing laundromat I have my doubts.

In fact, the UK Police are notorious for invading the civil liberties of their people. With an estimated 1.5 million security cameras around London alone (along with a probable 4.2 million country-wide), it’s no wonder the British people are feeling a little perturbed.

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Website Aims to Map Every Camera That Infringes on Privacy

January 14 2009 / by John Heylin
Category: Social Issues   Year: General   Rating: 3

berkeley.jpgI am pleased to announce the launch of Project Paranoid, a website which hopes to map out the location of every external camera in the world.  While some of you might think that a site such as this is unnecassary, there are enough that believe it is.  Currently the site only features about 600 camera locations are ound Berkeley, CA (the liberal stronghold) but with user help we hope to expand this all over the globe.  London itself has over 1.5 million CCTV cameras, so it's going to be a lot of work.

Currently the site is in a pretty rough form since we're going public ahead of time in order to get support.  If you're interested in helping out with designing, writing, programming, cash or even logging cameras, email us at so we can give you some sort of idea on what we're looking for.

(The image above is a screenshot of what the city of Berkeley looks like currently on our site.  Clicking the bubbles will give you a picture of the camera and soon other relevant information about it.)