1/1/16 UPDATE: In learning more about security culture, I realized this article really needed a serious overhaul. Entire paragraphs have been deleted, and brand new ones added; sentences have been noticeably edited, and a few elements have been kept from the original version. I sincerely hope this revision is more helpful to you all.
[Download a PDF of this article]
Full spectrum dominance is all based upon the complete predictability of a targeted population. A surveillance society is only possible if the captive public throws caution to the wind by divulging every inane thought that comes into their heads. Reverence for privacy must be reinvigorated if any of us are going to have a meager chance at exercising any of our common freedoms.
Privacy is all about the control of information. Whatever you choose to discuss reveals something about yourself. Contrary to popular belief, you retain absolute control over what comes out of your mouth, even if you are being coerced. Written text and verbal speech are evidence that you are in charge of your own faculties, for it requires a minimum of self-control in order to express yourself.
American dissidents who commit themselves to transparency should really heed the warning that not all truths need to be said; pointing out the injustices of the State is one thing, but airing your neighbor’s dirty laundry is completely different. While it may be possible to hook an audience with salacious tabloid nonsense, in order to reveal true atrocities, it is counterproductive. Being misunderstood, ineptly judged, or cowardly decried is too great to risk. Given that time is finite, why gamble on derailing any positive outcomes with reckless gossip?
Some of you may be familiar with the concept known as operational security (OPSEC), which has been popularized by survivalists like James Wesley, Rawles. Although is it commonly understood that OPSEC entails the use of various privacy measures, I must ask as to what is the nature of the active operation in question? Perhaps information security (INFOSEC) is a more accurate acronym?
What information, though, would “count” as being within the bounds of INFOSEC? Consider what details would be valuable to the government police during one of their investigations. I would suggest that, for instance, personally identifiable information (such as your Social Security number, or the legal names of your security team members), the passwords for your encrypted data, and the location of your supply caches, are but just some of what ought to be considered as INFOSEC. Indiscriminately spouting this knowledge over the Internet, or revealing it during a police interrogation, could result in harm to yourself or others.
When someone tells you something in confidence, you are expected to keep it private. Surreptitiously recording VoIP calls has come up more than once – I have been asked if I would mind being recorded on a private conference call, which I responded to by saying that I did; on another occasion, a third-party asked, of whom I was talking to, if a previous conference call between the three of us had been surreptitiously recorded, to which he responded that it had not been (thankfully). Intimate or sensitive details can be used to sabotage relationships, so those who betray confidences ought to be blacklisted as untrustworthy gossips.
Regarding your own personal identity, limiting what you say about yourself to others can help keep you relatively safe, but it is by no measure a guarantee. An adage I remember from what one author and former vlogger said, is that you can only be 100% private if you never left your home, never said anything, and consequently, never did anything, either. Obviously, this is patently ridiculous, but it serves to illustrate the voluntariness of anything you choose to say, and therefore it is important for you to be cognizant of so you can make informed decisions about what to do. The beauty of keeping your own counsel is that it encourages you to make conscientious decisions about what you never say over the telephone, what you will say only privately, and what you may say publicly, if at all.
As a blogger, I realize that I am constantly walking a tight rope when it comes to INFOSEC, and it can be a very precarious balance at times. If you decide to go public about what was said during private conversations, then at the very least don’t say whom you were talking to, because to do so otherwise would be a violation of their individual privacy. Not too long ago, I considered writing a tutorial on how to expose informants, but upon reflection, it dawned on me that such knowledge ought to be considered within the realm of INFOSEC.
Speaking of informants, snitching is the act of purposefully giving intelligence to the government. Snitches are dangerous because what they say to agents of the State usually gets people in serious trouble (like being fined, incarcerated, physically injured, or even executed). This is why an adage like “snitches get stitches” becomes socially acceptable, even by those without criminal records – the sheer danger of tattle-telling to the police is so high that counter-cultural socialization reflects the condemnation of this behavior. If the use of “confidential informants” against political prisoners such as William Wolf and Schuyler Barbeau isn’t enough proof for why snitching is repugnant to human liberty, then I don’t know what else would be sufficient.
Aside from snitching, I think it is imperative to be aware regarding your own propensity to accidently let private knowledge just “slip out” carelessly. Whether it be due to your habit of talking to yourself out loud, or falling victim to a social engineering hack, you must guard against letting yourself unwittingly assist hostiles in acquiring personally identifiable information. Doxing is but just one way that can be used to compromise INFOSEC; if you ever plan on conducting an armed resistance against the government, for example, then cache your guns somewhere, and keep your mouth tightly shut.
There will be times when you find yourself attempting to decide whether filling in application forms is worth the privacy trade-off. Consider leaving entire field entries blank, and fill them in only if the clerk or bureaucrat hands it back to you, instructing you to provide a specific piece of information. Letting your fear of being turned away empty-handed should not dictate that you act with unmitigated subservience to “the powers that be.”
As the old World War II idiom goes, “Loose lips sink ships.” To further reinforce this point, it could also be said that, “Fish are only caught because they open their mouths; keep yours shut,” and, “If you keep your lips pressed together, the silly words won’t fall out.” I hope you can see how this disciplined practice of keeping your own counsel is also applicable as an entire way of life.