Johanna Faust, a mixed race Jew, prefers to publish pseudonymously. She is committed: to preventing war, ecological disaster, and nuclear apocalypse; to keeping information available and free; and to not only fighting for personal privacy, but, by representing herself as a soldier in that fight, to exhorting others to do the same. All these efforts find representation on her blog "ah, Mephistophelis," so named after the last line of Chirstopher Marlowe's in his famous Dr. Faustus, which, as some would have it, successfully flouted the censor for a time. A female Faust, she is a poet, always.

The CyberWar Against Anonymity

Youtube, Blogger, Yahoo, and the Erosion of Online Privacy

by johanna faust

I have been wondering if something was up, ever since, oh, just after the propaganda business about Cyber Shock Wave.

First I found out that I couldn't post out-of-town on Craigslist without a landline upon which I could receive a special code.  Google voice was specifically excluded.  Furthermore, if I wanted to post under a different account, it had to have a different number attatched to it.

Hmmm.  I thought 'okay, this is about that recent craigslist murder, ok.'  

Then I got this email... and I have been wondering if it is related.

I discovered that Yahoo updated their webmail when I logged on to access my account from the web interface (something I had not done in quite some time - I have a mail client). I was informed that they were updating their records and now required more information. This was of course for my security and protection.  They wanted a phone number from me, and if I recall correctly it also couldn't be a google voice number. They also wanted me to choose a question for password recovery, with which I could have sworn I had already provided them... only these question choices were much more personal, and there was no option to write your own....

Then Gmail asked me also.  Now I expect on some level I am about as anonymous as if naked and trying to juggle in the Town Square at quarter past noon: but I am one of those innocent enough - or in love enough - to still believe the motto, to still believe in Google. Call it a personal thing. (And save the derision). Still, I was surprised, and after the Spokeo thing, which, bear with me, Gentle Reader, I go into below -- well I got to thinking.  Is there some contextual event that affects all these entities and is therefrom deducible?  Like, did a whole bunch of classified databases just become available for the querying? Did the powers that be, drooling over the promise of details, specificities, arrays, impose new and more strict federal surveillance protocols that all internet players have to meet?  Did data mining just reach a sort of critical mass, a singularity, where in the mind boggling rapidly and exponentially growing arrays of NSA-hosted energy-sucking terabytes, some Function in some Program (itself neutral, but evil by design) recognized a pattern, a set of patterns, a hypothesis, the test of which merely required millions of us unsuspecting end-users to post one more seemingly trivial bit of personal information?

And now this - something which I had heard about, but I thought it had to do with Blogger overseas, and not all new Youtube accounts.

I was wrong.

...If you don’t want to live in a police state I suggest boycott Google after calling them and telling them that until they stop the SMS verification or make it optional that you won’t ever use a Google product or else one day Google may require a Social Security Number just to use an account...

Not only will they have a phone number, they will have physical location data - which spells the end of anonymous posting, at least on Youtube. Other posts will be made more difficult. Email address usually is required, and Gmail was the least stringent of the major email providers.  Also the questions from which you can choose to answer if you forget your password got more ... specific, if you will.  Your sister's name, your brother-in-law, high school, first phone number, etc; all of them information from which your identity may conceivably be derived.  Gone are the less personal questions such as favorite movie, etc.... The above-quoted article in Federaljack is certainly worth the read.

Wonder if its connected -- after all, CyberShockWave's scenario did begin with a cell phone virus -- more importantly, it signaled a final stage in their 'Endgame,' cyber-dominance.  They've been on schedule with that as far as I can tell.  Check out the doc here (or here if you don't have a PDF viewer).

Oh, and another thing. The most recent unwanted mail from Spokeo, the network-connective-friendly-people-finder upon whose evil checkbox accident of circumstance tricked me into clicking (I was sitting with an attractive friend of mine whose info they'd just dangled onscreen, and I wanted to impress).

O fateful moment! They wanted my email imformation, they wanted my password, and they did not understand any part of the word 'no.' Well maybe the part that might get me to click the evil checkboxes of their affiliates, in an attempt (futile) to get off of their mailing lisits.  I told them repeatedy, in no uncertain terms.  My language got nasty.  These are the lowest of the low: they then resorted to cheap, halfhearted, and hackneyed psychological manipulation in subsequent emails.  To see them all, go here; its the last one I got which is most interesting, and relevant to the topic at hand:

Wealth? Occupation? Interests? Home value? Maybe its connected to the new scary Narus data-mining project, Hone.  Not that they will have your voiceprint, but they will have a phone line, from which voice prints may be taken.

I must admit, Gentle Reader, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up.  Or rather, to feel as if I am keeping up. (That last remark goes out to all the agents out there, stuck with having to read blog postings. So you know I know I don't even know the half of it. Go ahead.  Relax.  I'm just another dumb American.)

Updates as necessary.

Be seeing you.

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  1. OK, this is easy to overcome. Go buy a cell phone that is Pay As You Go. Give them a name other than yours (make one up) and give them an address in a state other than yours. If they note that you are calling from a different state, explain you are on vacation and bought the phone away from home.
    I use this phone for the accounts that ask for a number. When the phone is old or no longer of use, throw it away and get another one.
    I'm surprised more people don't think of this.

  2. Anonymous#1: what about GPS? what about voiceprints and the new Narus thing? I guess if you throw the phone away away right away... and never speak on it... and keep it in a faraday cage... But more to the point -- why are they requiring it? The Spirit of Freedom is at variance with the profit motive here...

  3. I find helps, Ok you have to write down the info so you remember it but i have a pocket adress book so it gets lost amongst the real stuff, that with the use of memory slang allowing me to know from the site, the name i need to look up, work's well.

    Of course if your not using and paying for a decent VPN provider, why worry, the NSA and GCHQ know everywhere you have been anyway.

  4. "buy a prepaid cellphone" yeah, except last phew times we bought one
    there is some error which forces us to speak with a "Customer service rep". voiceprint got. G.P.S. service activated on phone startup, got. "But who cares?! Game Over!! Lets go get Wasted Man!!..."