We always lived in a connected world, except we were not so much aware of it. We were aware of it down the line, that we’re not independent from our environment, that we’re not independent of the people around us. We are not independent of the many economic and other forces. But for decades we never perceived connectedness as being quantifiable, as being something that we can describe, that we can measure, that we have ways of quantifying the process. That has changed drastically in the last decade, at many, many different levels.
It has changed partly because we started to be aware of it partly because there were a lot of technological advances that forced us to think about connectedness. We had Worldwide Web, which was all about the links connecting information. We had the Internet, which was all about connecting devices. We had wireless technologies coming our way. Eventually, we had Google, we had Facebook. Slowly, the term ‘network connectedness’ really became part of our life so much so that now the word ‘networks’ is used much more often than evolution or quantum mechanics. It’s really run over it, and now that’s the buzzword.
The question is, what does it mean to be part of the network, or what does it mean to think in terms of the network? What does it mean to take advantage of this connectedness and to understand that? In the last decade, what I kept thinking about is how do you describe mathematically the connectedness? How do you get data to describe that? What does this really mean for us?
It’s not enough to say that peer networks are an interesting alternative to states and markets. The state and the market are now fundamentally dependent on peer networks in ways that would have been unthinkable just 20 years ago… .
One reason is that there is a growing number of individuals and organizations who believe the digital success of peer networks can be translated into the “real” world. Peer networks laid the foundation for the scientific revolution during the Enlightenment, via the formal and informal societies and coffeehouse gatherings where new research was shared. The digital revolution has made it clear that peer networks can work wonders in the modern age… .
When we talk about change being driven by mass collaboration, it’s often in the form of protest movements: civil rights or marriage equality. That’s a tradition worth celebrating, but it’s only part of the story. The Internet (and all the other achievements of peer networks) is not a story about changing people’s attitudes or widening the range of human tolerance. It’s a story, instead, about a different kind of organization, neither state nor market, that actually builds things, creating new tools that in turn enhance the way states and markets work.
Abine - A Firefox / Internet Explorer plugin that blocks third party advertising networks, manages HTTP, DOM, and Flash cookies, and securely manages site logins. Currently in private beta, but invites aren’t hard to get. Abine Privacy Suite
Anonymouse - A Web search portal hosted on an island off the coast of Somalia. This PET seemingly allows you to access any webpage without leaving a trace. (I tried MSN.com and found that Ghostery detected no web bugs.) Anonymouse
aTube Catcher - Download videos and watch anytime and without needing to be online and thus frustrate tracking and monitoring aTube
BetterPrivacy Firefox Plug In - Add on for Firefox that creates “super-cookie blocker,” including flash cookies and most DOM storage objects.BetterPrivacy
BleachBit - BleachBit quickly frees disk space, removes hidden junk, and easily guards your privacy. Designed for Linux and Windows systems, it wipes clean 70 applications including Firefox, Internet Explorer, Flash, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, Adobe Reader, APT, and more. BleachBit
BugMeNot - Bypass many webpages requiring free registration with the click of a button. BugMeNot
CCleaner - application for Windows. Analyzes and facilitates deletion of various items of data stored on your PC, including state management cookies (HTTP, flash and other), cached temporary Internet files, etc.CCleaner
Certificate Patrol - Firefox plugin that saves SSL certificates of pages when encountered to act like SSH’s “known_keys” feature and alarm the user when the presented certificate is different from the usual one .
Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBN) - Free self-contained boot disk that securely and completely deletes the contents of any hard disk that it can detect. DBN
Diaspora - the privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all distributed open source social network Diaspora
Documents over HTTPS - View online documents over HTTPS, just enter web link after = GoogleDocs Alternatively upload document or enter URL through Zoho ViewerNote: ixquick and google search results do not provide direct links to view documents over https.
Eraser - Secure data removal tool for Windows. (Open Source) Eraser
FireGPG - FireGPG is a Firefox add-on which brings an interface to encrypt, decrypt, sign or verify the signature of text in any web page using GnuPG. FireGPG
Freenet - Decentralized, censorship-resistant distributed data store which aims to provide freedom of speech through a peer-to-peer network with strong protection of anonymity. Freenet works by pooling the contributed bandwidth and storage space of member computers to allow users to anonymously publish or retrieve various kinds of information.Freenet
GoogleSharing - A system for anonymizing requests to Google services which don’t require a login. Consists of both a Firefox Addon and a free proxy. GoogleSharing
Hosts file domain blocking - A slightly technical (but very easy) procedure that provides you nearly complete invisibility from all data aggregation engines of your choosing. The principle behind the technique is simple: you use your own computer’s local domain name information repository (known as the hosts file) to associate a privacy-infringing domain (ie, doubleclick.net) with an incorrect IP address - usually your own. See the following link for more details and resources, including a pre-made hosts file that takes care of most of the technical details for you. MVPS.org
HTTPs Everywhere - A Firefox plugin that defaults supporting websites to HTTPs. HTTPs Everywhere
I2P - Mixed-license free and open source project to build an anonymous network that other applications can use to anonymously and securely send messages to each other. Uses include anonymous surfing, chatting, blogging and file transfers. I2P
IPREDator - “IPREDator is a network service that makes people online more anonymous using a VPN.” (Note: This service appears to involve a monthly fee. Added: it costs 50SEK/month - roughly $10) IPREDator
Internet Privacy Forum - Reports on what a website can know about you just by visiting it. IPF
Internet Proxy - Free internet web based proxy. Conceals your IP address from visited sites. Internet Proxy
Ixquick - Metasearch engine that returns the top ten results from multiple search engines. Can be used over encrypted SSL/HTTPS and has a facility to view search results via it’s SSL/HTTPS proxy option. Ixquick was the first search engine to delete private details of its users—IP addresses and other personal information are deleted within 48 hours of a search. Ixquick also does not share its users’ personal information with other search engines or with the provider of its sponsored results. IxquickNote: View docs over HTTPS Zoho Viewer or GoogleDocs
JonDoNym - German-based software that encrypts and mixes Internet communications to render them anonymous. Fee based and slower free services available JonDoNym
KeePass Password Safe - Open source password manager. KeePassLinux version KeepassX
MelonCard - Removes you from a vast number of people search and people lookup websites (e.g. RapLeaf, MyLife, Spokeo) for free. MelonCard automates the process of removing yourself from these websites, sending forms, letters, and faxes on your behalf. The basic level of service is free with an option to upgrade for additional opt-outs (e.g. Intelius and ZabaSearch) and monitoring for your information.MelonCard
Mixmaster - Type II anonymous remailer which sends messages in fixed-size packets and reorders them, preventing anyone watching the messages go in and out of remailers from tracing them. Mixmaster
MyTube - A free script for website designers intending to use embedded videos, which is designed to prevent cookies from being sent to external sites or advertising networks unless the embedded video is actually played. MyTube
NoScript - Firefox add on that protects against certain types of web hacks. NoScript
OptimizeGoogle - Firefox add-on to enhance Google search results, remove click-tracking, ads, spam, enable Google over https options and more. OptimizeGoogle
Password Generators (online) - Ultra High Security Password Generator GRC. Plus online password generators/hashers, using Master Keys that when remembered can be used to recover forgotten passwords! Password HasherPwdHashPassword Chart
Panopticlick - A tool for measuring how rare/unique a browser configuration is. Rare configurations may function as fingerprints that allow websites to track the browser even if the user limits or deletes cookies Panopticlick.
Peer Block - PeerBlock lets you control who your computer “talks to” on the Internet. You can block communication with advertising or spyware oriented servers, p2p activity monitors, even entire countries! They can’t get in to your computer, and your computer won’t try to send them anything either. Best of all, it’s free! Peer Block
pidder - A host-proof service that lets you build an encrypted, private social network where you stay in control what data you wish to share and with whom. Includes encrypted messaging and password management. Free Base Edition. pidder
Privacy Bird - Free software designed to automatically read full P3P privacy policies of websites and compare them to your personal privacy preferences, providing warning messages when a site’s policies do not match your own. Privacy Bird
PrivacyBox - The PrivacyBox provides primarily for journalists, bloggers and other publishers the possibility to offer non-tracked (and also anonymous) contact forms. privacybox.de
PrivacyChoice Opt-out - Gathers opt-out cookies from over 150 ad companies, with an optional Firefox add-on to preserve and automatically update preferences. Opt-out from all companies or opt-out selectively based on industry certifications and policy terms. PrivacyChoice Opt-out
PrivacyFinder - Privacy-enhanced search engine allowing users to state privacy preferences and order search results based on how sites’ computer-readable privacy policies comply. PrivacyFinder
Privatix Live-System - Free portable encrypted system on an usb flash drive or an external hard drive for safe editing and carrying along of sensitive data, for encrypted communication and anonymous web surfing. Privatix
Privoxy - Privoxy is a non-caching web proxy with advanced filtering capabilities for enhancing privacy, modifying web page data and HTTP headers, controlling access, and removing ads and other obnoxious Internet junk. Privoxy has a flexible configuration and can be customized to suit individual needs and tastes. It has application for both stand-alone systems and multi-user networks. Privoxy
Qubes - Open source operating system designed to provide strong security for desktop computing. (Under development) Qubes
RefControl - Control what gets sent as the HTTP Referer on a per-site basis. RefControl
RetroShare - Open Source cross-platform, private and secure decentralised communication platform. It lets you to securely chat and share files with your friends and family, using a web-of-trust to authenticate peers and OpenSSL to encrypt all communication.RetroShare
Scroogle.org - A service that functions as a search-engine proxy, taking your queries, passing them to google, and returning the results to you without ever passing along any identifying information. The service claims to scrub its own logs after 48 hours. Scroogle
Seeks - Open and social websearch infrastructure featuring anonymous nodes and proxies based on Privoxy. Seeks
SpoofStick - An explorer and Firefox plug in that helps detect phishing attacks. SpoofStick
Stealthier - A great new Firefox add on that can pause most online tracking activities. Stealthier
Swipe Toolkit - The Swipe Toolkit from Turbulence.org features several elegant tools to educate users on what personal information is collected about them and how it is used. There is a tool that decodes your license info and another that calculate the value of your PII. Swipe
TAILS: The (Amnesic) Incognito Live System - The (Amnesic) Incognito Live System (Live CD, Live USB) is aimed at preserving your privacy and anonymity, all outgoing connections to the Internet are forced to go through the Tor network, no trace is left on local storage devices unless explicitly asked. TAILS
Tor - Free software implementation of second-generation onion routing, a system enabling its users to communicate anonymously on the Internet.Tor
TrackerScan - Available as a Firefox extension or a bookmarklet (no download required), TrackerScan shows you ad companies present on any webpage, with summaries of key privacy policies, industry certifications, and opt-outs. TrackerScan
TrackMeNot - Browser extension that helps protect web searchers from surveillance and data-profiling by search engines. Hides users’ actual search trails in a cloud of ‘ghost’ queries, using noise and obfuscation to significantly increase the difficulty of aggregating such data into accurate or identifying user profiles. TrackMeNot
TrueCrypt - Free, open-source disk encryption software for Windows Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux. Encryption is automatic, on-the-fly, and transparent. TrueCrypt
User Agent Switcher - The User Agent Switcher extension adds a menu and a toolbar button to switch the user agent of the browser. User Agent Switcher.
Vanish - Enhancing the Privacy of the Web with Self-Destructing Data (Under development) Proof of concept under development Vanish
Vuze - Browser plug-in designed to reveal network management practices. Vuze
Web of Trust - Firefox add on that warns users of risky websites. WOT
WhatApp.org - Website that reviews apps for privacy and security.WhatApp?
Wikileaks - Website that allows for the anonymous posting of documents. Wikileaks
Yauba Privacy Safe Search Engine - World’s first Privacy Safe Search engine, with no cookies, no storage of personal data, and built in anonymising proxy for private surfing of third party websites. Yauba is the only search engine in the world that offers this level of privacy protection. Yauba’s searches across multiple categories of filetypes including websites, videos, image files, social networks, pdf files, powerpoint files, word files, and more. Yauba
There are also a variety of resources describing or otherwise devoted to privacy enhancing technology. Please add your favorite.
Berkman Center - Harvard’s Berkman Center has put together this comprehensive report on the state of technologies that circumvent government monitored Internet connections. Circumvention Landscape Report
CDT - The Center for Democracy and Technology describes the role of PETs. CDT
EPIC - The Electronic Privacy Information Center has a very good list of PETs, not all of which appear above. EPIC
ICO - UK Information Commissioner’s Office discussion of PETs. ICO
PET Awards - Annual award through IPC of Ontario and Microsoft for best privacy enhancing technology. PET Awards
PRC - Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has assembled a list of info brokers and instructions on how to opt out of their activities. Opt Out List
Privacy Resources - Consultant Marcus Zillman has assembled a variety of privacy resources, including PETs. Privacy Resources
PrivacyChoice Index of Tracking Companies - A comprehensive index of companies involved in user tracking, including key privacy policies, industry certifications, tracking methodologies and opt-out specifications. Look up by company name or tracking domain.PrivacyChoice Index
Radialpoint.net - User community around protecting yourself and your computer from spyware, viruses, and fraud. Radialpoint
SSD - The Electronic Frontier Foundation has assembled resources around “Surveillance Self Defense,” including defensive technology.Surveillance Self Defense
Surfing Anonymously - A blog about surfing anonymously on the interner. It covers legal, technical, political discussion on how to protect your anonymity online Surfing Anonymously
Data on all phone calls, text messages, email traffic and online visits would be stored for a year in vast databases under a new anti-terrorism plan in Britain, The Telegraph reported Saturday on its website.
With Siri TV, Apple Will Dismantle the TV Networks
Steve Jobs died without fully transforming television, but the day after he passed away, Apple unveiled Siri, its natural language interface. Though it’s currently only embedded in the new iPhone 4S, Siri could eventually change the face of the TV industry.
But from my perspective, Siri’s greatest impact won’t ultimately be on users, or on device manufacturers (though they certainly risk losing market share to Apple). It will be on the TV industry’s content creators and packagers. Why? Because a voice-controlled television interface will fundamentally disrupt the six-decade-old legacy structure of networks, channels and programs. And that’s a legacy that — until now, at least — has been carried forward from analog to digital.
It sounds like something out of Hollywood, but as of today, mass interception systems, built by Western intelligence contractors, including for ’political opponents’ are a reality. Today WikiLeaks began releasing a database of hundreds of documents from as many as 160 intelligence contractors in the mass surveillance industry.
But the WikiLeaks Spy Files are more than just about ’good Western countries’ exporting to ’bad developing world countries’. Western companies are also selling a vast range of mass surveillance equipment to Western intelligence agencies. In traditional spy stories, intelligence agencies like MI5 bug the phone of one or two people of interest. In the last ten years systems for indiscriminate, mass surveillance have become the norm. Intelligence companies such as VASTech secretly sell equipment to permanently record the phone calls of entire nations. Others record the location of every mobile phone in a city, down to 50 meters. Systems to infect every Facebook user, or smart-phone owner of an entire population group are on the intelligence market.
A kid coding away in a basement, anywhere in the world, should be able to build apps within the most popular music subscription service in the world. Want to play your friends’ Facebook preferences? Create a party playlist automatically based on the people attending? Tag songs to locations so that others can stumble across them? They’re working on it.