Technocreep ~ with security tips and how we’ll order pizza in the future

Technocreep, The Surrender of Privacy and the Capitalization of Intimacy, published 2014

by Thomas P. Keenan —  technologist, professor, computer security expert and government advisor

“The first step in formulating an intelligent response to growing technocreepiness is to understand who is after your information and why they want it…”

Somebody recently said about the internet, these days it’s a sign of mental illness if you’re not a little bit paranoid. In that spirit, this book is a must-read with chapters titled Intelligence Creep, Camera Creep, Bio Creep, Deception Creep and Anti-Creep. You’ll learn the fun new term glasshole, and the not-so-fun terms wireheading, swarm intelligence and the cyber trickery known as dark patterns.

“There are things you can do to throw people off your cyberscent and retain as much privacy and freedom as possible, but you need to start taking action now…”

In case his nervous readers are biting their nails down to the quick, Keenan intersperses the scary future — like fingerprint scanners whose proliferation is “to ease us into the idea of routinely using our bodies as identification” – with what I’ll call Creep Lite. In the chapter titled Sensor Creep we learn about a Spanish company, Siempre Secos (Always Dry), that “has created a urine sensor with companion wristband to alert you, or your caregiver, that it’s time for a change. Let’s just hope you’re not sitting down to a formal dinner or something when the thing goes off.” And you thought you were still getting used to the idea of having to wear Depends.

Or the smart toilets of Japan’s Toto company that take your stool’s weight and measurements and record the data in your very own personal diary. Imagine having one—a toilet, that is—and suddenly it’s possessed. The seat raises. The seat lowers. The bidet squirts, the water flushes. You’d probably think to yourself, what’s with this damn software? But what could actually be happening is that somewhere in the world there’s a chubby, basement-dwelling hacker having himself a good yuck at your expense. Just wait until he finds a way to embed a camera, if he hasn’t already.

Or the Swedish company Pause Ljud & Bild that sells coffins “outfitted with corpse-controllable music systems and 4G internet access, just in case. The CataCoffin features divine tweeters with external cooling and one hell of an eight-inch subwoofer, fine-tuned to the coffin’s unique interior acoustic space” – yet another reason I love the progressive-thinking Swedes. Or how about LivesOn, a company that keeps your social media profile alive after death. “Those obsessed with Twitter can now depart this realm knowing that When your heart stops beating, you’ll keep tweeting.”

“One thing is certain. The hairs on the back of our collective neck are going to be working overtime for the foreseeable future.”

Keenan’s last chapter, Technocreep, delivers the reader with his most ardent advice. Below is his list of recommendations. Oh yeah, and the promised instructional video on ordering pizza in the future.
• Install software like Ghostery to help you track the trackers
Adblock Plus and Disconnect will block pop-ups, ads and invisible websites
• Go deep diving into places like your Facebook profile and control as many settings as possible
• Periodically clear out your computer’s history, cache files and other digital detritus
• Organize your digital life compulsively
• Password protect all your devices
• The next level of protection is to encrypt your entire hard disk
• Choose your password well and/or use a software password manager
• Never put passwords, credit card numbers, or anything else that is truly sensitive into an email
• Beef up your authentication
• Get ready for biometrics
• Get a digital shredder
• Build yourself a sandbox using software such as VMware and Sandboxie to create an isolated environment on your own computer
• Guard your digital Persona like a hawk and cover your tracks
• Prefer credit cards over debit cards because credit card companies have elaborate anti-fraud measures
• You could pay cash (or Bitcoin)
• Monitor your accounts online regularly
• Set up a Google Alert on your name
• Use a privacy-friendly search engine
• Check your environment for things that should not be there, such as icons on your smart phone, or wall plugs which could be snooping devices in public places offering free Wi-Fi
• Be Info-Stingy, don’t give to stores your postal code, telephone number or any other identifying information at the checkout
• Try to control postings of your face (and other distinctive features)
• Tell your devices to be less promiscuous
• Create another you—or many! And where it’s legal to do so, make up a “straw man” for medical tests
• Have an email for every purpose
• Mince your metadata
• Set your camera, smartphone, and other devices to “location off” mode
• If you have captured location data on a photo, remove it as soon as possible
• Alter your phone usage habits
• Clear the history from GPS devices
• Turn each new technology back on itself
• Use a VPN or virtual private network
• Set your own Info-Trap by varying your name or changing your title
• Set traps in your email accounts
• Have your own surveillance cameras
• Record your life (just in case)
• Make your computer or smartphone your personal spy
• Track your stolen computer through its attempt to access Gmail or Dropbox
• Protest loudly but carefully
• Complain to government agencies and consumer watchdog groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation
• Go to the media, or make your own media
• Watch your back when you protest
• Future-proof yourself, your technology and your knowledge
• Use a search engine to stay up to date
• Check for scams
• Anticipate the next “DNA fingerprinting” type of breakthrough and prepare for it
• Conspire with like-minded folks and participate in societal dialogue
• Hang with some hackers
• Trade consumer information and reviews
• Accept the responsibility to stay informed, speak out, and vote on technocreepiness

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