It’s no secret that in many situations, we’re being watched and tracked. Not necessarily mass surveillance, mind you, at least not in the United States anyway. But just look at the tech we rely on daily: our smartphones, tablets and computers, for example. Our smartphones know where we are, and therefore so do a lot of advertisers.
Not to mention, security cameras are just about everywhere these days, and it’s becoming more and more common for people to add them to their homes. Google, Facebook and Amazon know us better than a lot of our relatives do.
That’s why trying to regain your anonymity is challenging, almost to the point of being seemingly impossible. But one expert has found a few ways to protect your identity and get off the grid in today’s connected world. Be ready, though, because it’ll take some commitment and some cash.
Plan to get off the grid
Jameson Lopp is the CTO of a Bitcoin security company called Casa, and he has some not-so-simple steps to get off the grid. In fact, he’s got a list of 15 steps to “escape the all-seeing eyes of corporate America and the government.” And they’re some pretty extreme ideas.
In an interview with The New York Times, Lopp said he created the steps as a way to remove himself from databases that contain our personal info, and sell it to other third parties. His concerns are regarding data brokers that profit from our data without consent, along with Facebook and Google for the sheer amount of data they collect. And who can blame him? Just look at the last year alone.
He also wants stop any collection and monitoring of data by government agencies, and basically disappear without breaking the law. The catch? Be ready for some serious investment. It would be helpful to have an extra $30,000 on hand.
Steps to make yourself disappear
Did we mention these aren’t all easy steps? Lopp has quite the strategy and will go to great lengths to disappear.
Let’s start with something we’ve told you about time and time again. Lopp uses a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, to mask his IP address when he’s online at home. We’ve got some tips on VPNs and how to set them up here. But his other ideas aren’t so simple.
Lopp also says to create a limited liability company, or LLC. He says it can be harder for people to find the owner of an LLC, since some states don’t require an owner’s name to be made public.
Once that’s all set up, he used the LLC to establish new bank accounts and payment cards. That includes a corporate credit card that didn’t require that he list his name. But whenever possible, he uses a prepaid debit card or cash to limit the number of transactions that lead back to his LLCs.
He also set up a new phone number for his LLC, and uses a lot of burner numbers. Not just that, but he shuts down geolocation services on his phone, and doesn’t use it for GPS navigation. Instead, he uses a standalone GPS device that has no connection to him. Speaking of traveling, Lopp suggests encrypting your data while on the go so any officials that might confiscate your device won’t be able to access what’s on it.
Here’s where Lopp goes all-in. He apparently doesn’t want anyone to know who he is, online or otherwise.
Go big or go home for the next one. As in, buy a new home. Lopp bought a house, paid in full, using a cashier’s check from his LLC. And he’s not a fan of his neighbors knowing who he is, so he uses a fake name when he talks to them. When it’s time to go to the store, he even puts on a disguise to throw off cameras and facial rec technology. It’s unclear if he’s using the tried-and-true fake glasses, nose and mustache.
Bye-bye, fancy car and motorcycle. Lopp also used his LLC to buy a boring car, then bought another house to use as a decoy so he wouldn’t have to add his real address to DMV forms.
To round things out, he’ll only work remotely and masks the background if he has to jump on a video call. Lopp also uses a private mailbox so he’s not added to any lists and even goes as far having packages sent to a random address before being rerouted back to the private mailbox. I’m sure that voids any Amazon two-day delivery promises.
For the cherry on top, hire a private investigator every so often and see if they can find you. Just think of it as an expensive game of hide and seek.
According to this expert, you can become anonymous. It’ll just take some time, planning and a considerable chunk of change.