Privacy in the Digital Age: Part 1

Written by Rusty Shackleford

Beginning in 2013 with the Edward Snowden
scandal, Americans became increasingly aware
of what had already been published in the James
Bamford books — all Americans have been con-

tinuously surveilled since at least the beginning
of WW2 if not before. Although the internet has
simplified and quickened many aspects of our
lives, we have to understand that the internet was
not designed by or for the profane. The internet
was also not designed by Al Gore. The internet
was created by the Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency (DARPA) and its long-term use will
be to monitor and control even the most minute
details of our lives. The long-term goal will be what
H.G. Wells described as the World Brain, The World
Brain will act as an involuntary yet instantaneous
cataloging of all the world’s information. Of course,
there will be information inaccessible to the pro-

fane that will be passed on by word-of-mouth and
ancient texts only seen by the so-called Elite.
As time goes on it seems that the Amish had it
right. Living a simple, debt-free life making wick-

er furniture appears preferable to our Brave New
World. It is still worthwhile to ponder this question:
Is it possible to coexist with and harness the power
of the internet while retaining our privacy? The
answer is yes although perhaps not entirely. Let’s
explore the fundamental steps in regaining some
level of anonymity and privacy in the age of Big
Operating Systems and Zero Hour Vulner- abilities
The main concern when securing any type of
data system whether mobile device or desktop
computer is that their operating systems are pro-

prietary. This means that only a very small group of
insiders has seen and understand the underlying
mechanics of the MacOS, iOS, Android or Win

dows operating systems. These engineers are not
your friends and are paid big bucks to install the
backdoor tools used by agencies such as the CIA
and NSA to penetrate your system should you find
yourself on any list for any reason or suspicion.
There is one obvious alternative for desktop
and laptop computers: Linux. Linux is free and
open-source but requires some basic command
line knowledge to operate. The code is maintained
by groups of programmers who adhere to
a pledge of morality when updating the software.
Since any piece of Linux can be audited by anyone,
dishonest or deceptive contributors can be identified
and removed from the project. Most Linux
distributions are free which removes the financial
incentive for much of the deceptive spying we see
in the computer world. The top Linux distributions
for those concerned with privacy are Debian and
Fedora. The best operating system for those who
require ease-of-use similar to a Windows or Mac
machine is Mint Linux.
There are also pieces of software known as
“Live” operating systems. This means that the operating

system is run completely from the system’s
RAM (Random Access Memory) without using the
hard drive component. These operating systems
can run from a CD/DVD or USB stick. When the
system is shutdown, it completely disappears as
nothing is permanently saved to the hard drive
and computer RAM is flushed when shut down.
The most common live operating system is “Tails”
which was created as part of the TOR (The Onion
Router) project. A Tails Live USB can be purchased
for around $20 on eBay.
Mobile devices are much more difficult
to secure. Open source developers are constantly
struggling to develop software with the proprietary
components of mobile phones such as the
Wi-Fi adapter and camera. The Replicant operating
system installed on an Android device is the only
option for privacy on a mobile device. Replicant is
based on Linux LineageOS and is maintained by
donations to ethical coders based in North Ameri- ca and Europe.
Search Engines and Keywords
Most people purchase computers with the inten- tions of going “online” and most online activity
revolves around searching for information using
keywords. Google was setup with funds from In-QTel,
the technological investment arm of the CIA.
At present, Google dominants over 90% of online
search and all searches are logged, archived and
connected to the user’s identity and geograph- ic location. Google uses information obtained
from your searches to understand prior purchase
behavior and predict likely future economic activity. Cookies are used to track users and deliver
ads. Have you ever wondered why searching for
fluoride-free toothpaste resulted in ads for Tom’s
of Maine toothpaste appearing when reading your
favorite blog? This is due to a combination of keyword ads and cookie-based retargeting — all part
and parcel of using the Google Search Engine.
Search engines such as Bing (Microsoft)
and Yahoo are essentially aftermarket
knock offs of what Google
has created.
They treat your data in the same fashion as prop- erty of a corporation that will be eagerly shared
with governments and ad agencies. is a good alternative to the
corporate search engines. Startpage delivers iden- tical results as Google but uses a proxy service to
deliver anonymous results without any server log- ging. There is some very
limited click advertise- ment on Startpage but
it is considerably less
invasive than at Google.
Additionally, Startpage
does not install track- ing cookies so retar- geting based on search
queries is impossible.
Another interesting
feature of Startpage is
their proxy feature that
allows users to view a
page via proxy without
actually visiting the tar- get server from your IP
DuckDuckGo is
well-known alternative
to Google that many
people recommend.
However, after listening
to an interview with the
founder, a co-tribalist of
(((Page))) and (((Brin))),
I suspect it of being a limited hangout with server
Many people will point that all data transmitted across
fiber optic cables is scooped up by
NSA programs such as XKEYSCORE and PRISM,
sorted by Nautilus machines and reorganized and
stored indefinitely in government facilities such as
the new data processing facility in the Utah desert.
These collection techniques were confirmed and
described by former NSA architects Thomas Drake
and William (Bill) Binney years before Snowden
came onto the scene. This is true but it is important
for as many people as possible to make their data
consolidation as difficult as possible. Although
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning has
progressed in the last 20 years, the fact remains
that it would be a logistical nightmare to track and
monitor eight billion human beings if they all protected
their data using at least one of these tech- nologies.
In future installments we will cover other aspects
of privacy such as:
• Virtual Private Network (VPN) • Secure File Storage •
E-mail Encryption • Online Financial Payments • Smartphone Apps • Web Browsers
For those who can’t wait and would like more
information about protecting yourself online,
please visit This website serves
as a repository of privacy-friendly software for the
common man. I am in no way associated with the
domain and to my knowledge nothing is “for sale”
there. It’s simply something someone who is
dissatisfied with our Prison Planet surveillance pan- opticon put together.

About the author

Rusty Shackleford

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