During my studies in privacy and surveillance theory, I’ve gained an interest in technologies of obfuscation and resistance. Especially simple ones that nearly any average citizen can implement.
TrackMeNot is a great example: a simple Firefox extension that periodically issues randomized search queries to popular search engines, thereby hiding users’ actual search trails in a cloud of ‘ghost’ queries, significantly increasing the difficulty of aggregating such data into accurate or identifying user profiles. While it might not fully protect one’s privacy or create a veil of full anonymity, TrackMeNot acts as an expression of resistance, and draws attention to the practice of search query data retention.
I recently came across another example: DIY anti-CCTV glasses: attach infra-red LEDs to a pair of sunglasses, and you become a blur of white light to many CCTV cameras. There’s a great video showing how to do it here.
Commenters at BoingBoing and Schneier have doubted the full efficacy of such a technique, but, as is often the case, technologies of obfuscation and restistence aren’t meant to be 100% fool-proof. Rather, they are meant to tip the balance of power back — even if only somewhat — into the hands of average citizens, and bring attention to the controversal aspects of the growing ubiquity and normalization of everyday surveillance and privacy invasions.