In today's all-connected world, it can seem impossible to remain truly anonymous and insulated from being tracked, watched or indexed by the internet or other means.
But Jameson Lopp, CTO at Bitcoin security company Casa, has discovered how to get off the grid.
Lopp devised an exhaustive, albeit extremely complicated, list of 15 steps to 'escape the all-seeing eyes of corporate America and the government,' according to the New York Times.
Among the solutions Lopp recommends are to create an LLC to shield your identity, use cash as much as possible, quit using a smartphone GPS for directions and even move to a new home.
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Jameson Lopp, CTO at Bitcoin security company Casa, has discovered how to get off the grid. Lopp developed an exhaustive, albeit extremely complicated, strategy that cost him $30,000
HOW CAN YOU GET TRULY BE 'INVISIBLE' TO SURVEILLANCE?
- Create a new corporate identity
- Set up new bank accounts and payment cards
- Carry cash
- Get a new phone number
- Stop using a smartphone for GPS directions
- Move to a new house
- Use a fake name or pseudonym
- Use a Virtual Private Network when browsing the internet at home
- Get rid of your flashy car
- Purchase a 'decoy house' to prevent being tracked by the DMV
- Establish a private mailbox and remailing service
- Use a disguise when going outside
- Don't work in an office setting
- Encrypt your devices when traveling
- Hire a private investigator to make sure you can't be tracked
Source: Jameson Lopp
The goal was to completely remove himself from databases that host our personal information and sell it to third parties, the New York Times reported.
His concerns aren't unlike the recent attention that's been given to the shadowy underworld of 'data brokers' and online surveillance systems that profit off the sale of users' data - often without their knowledge or consent.
Many organizations, ranging from telecommunications firms and hotels to the likes of Silicon Valley giants have been criticized for extensively collecting and sharing users' data.
Facebook and Google in particular have been called into question for the massive amounts of data they store from users.
But the rise of facial recognition technology and other types of biometric authentication has also stoked fears of a global surveillance state in which anyone's whereabouts can be easily tracked.
Many of Lopp's strategies sought to stamp out the kinds of information collection and monitoring overseen by federal agencies.
To start, he sought to mask his identity by creating a limited liability company, or LLC.
People can be recorded in a database each time they fill out a form for everyday things like buying a property, registering a credit card or other common transactions, the Times noted.
In some states, it's not required for the owner's name of an LLC to be publicly available.
This makes it that much harder for people to snoop on and track down the owner of an LLC.
After his LLC was established, Lopp set up new bank accounts and payment cards, creating a bank account under his new LLC, as well as a corporate credit card with a firm that doesn't require users to list their name.
Jameson Lopp, a Bitcoin evangelist (pictured) detailed how to 'disappear' in a surveillance state
Lopp also uses cash for many purchases, which allows him to remain anonymous.
The Bitcoin evangelist then got a new phone number that's linked to his LLC and often uses services that create random phone numbers that are deleted after each call, akin to having a burner phone.
He has changed his phone habits as well, by refusing to use the device for GPS directions and disabling geolocation services.
This means his device can't keep a record of his location activity, which also prevents apps on the device from slurping up that data too.
When Lopp needs directions, he uses a GPS device that isn't tied to him, the Times said.
Many organizations, ranging from telecommunications firms and hotels to the likes of Silicon Valley giants have been criticized for extensively collecting and sharing users' data
WHAT IS A VIRTUAL PRIVATE NETWORK?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) extends across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data while maintaining the secrecy of a private network.
VPN's are often used to allow employees to access the server of their office/workplace to allow for mobile working.
They increase privacy and the internet security of users connected to public networks.
They are also used to link offices/branches of the same company that are in different locations.
Theoretically, all the information that passes through a VPN secure and can not be intercepted by anyone else.
Although they do not offer total anonymity online, they are often used to optimise privacy.
VPN's can also be used by individuals to allow them to get around geographical restrictions and censorship - for example, accessing the Netflix of the US from the UK or vice versa.
Their use in 'geo-spoofing' locations is also used in to aid freedom of speech as many users wish to escape the limitations placed on their browsing by employers, organisations or third-parties.
A VPN can also help protect you against malware or cons on the web.
He recommends that users encrypt their data when traveling so that if officials seize your device, they're unable to access private information stored on any devices.
Lopp also uses a Virtual Private Network when browsing the web at home to mask his IP address.
In what is perhaps some of his more drastic measures, Lopp also moved into a new house, which he purchased in full using a cashier's check from his LLC, uses a pseudonym when interacting with his neighbors and wears a disguise when traveling outside to avoid being tracked by CCTV cameras or facial recognition software.
Lopp got rid of his motorcycle and Lotus Elise sports car as part of the effort and, instead, purchased a more 'boring' model under the LLC, the Times said.
Additionally, he acquired a decoy house to throw off the local Department of Motor Vehicles, as they require residents to register a new car with their real name and an address.
'It’s the crappiest, cheapest hole in the wall I could find that has a physical mailbox,' Lopp told the Times.
To further protect his location, he only works remotely and reports into videoconferences from an obscured room.
Lopp also set up a private mailbox to prevent his name from being added to mailing lists and has packages sent through a remailing service, which sends the package to a random address, then reroutes it back to the private mailbox, according to the Times.
Finally, he recommends that people hire a private investigator periodically to try to find them.
In all, he estimates the process of going off the grid cost him $30,000, the Times said.