How to hide from total surveillance: 8 strategies from artists and designers

Surveillance on the Internet, and cities transformed from a story of dystopia in a part of our everyday life. About it almost daily I recall the news about the improvement of the face recognition system used by the FBI, and surveillance of the policies of different countries and ordinary citizens. Artists and designers have noticed this phenomenon sooner than other people, and have invented many strategies to fight mass surveillance. Apparat carefully studied unusual methods of resistance offered by authors from around the world.

Clothing and accessories that block the smartphone

One of the easiest ways to hide from surveillance is a special clothing. For example, a London-based company produces The Affair, which has a line inspired by George Orwell's novel "1984". Clothes similar to uniforms, has pockets of fabric that blocks cellular, Wi-Fi and GPS. Now Zoltan Tsaki, Creator of The Affair, raising money for the release of this collection on Kickstarter. In addition to clothing, you can buy UnPocket pockets for phone and documents, which also blocks all signals. This is not the first such accessory for mobile devices. In 2013, the successful crowdfunding campaign held by the Creator of a similar case for smartphones, which is called the OFF Pocket.

Camouflage that prevents facial recognition

Another strategy that is offered by many artists and activists, is a make — up, confusing the cameras. For example, Adam Harvey has come up with how you can paint your face to "blind" surveillance cameras — this is dedicated to his project CV dazzle. The algorithms of face recognition analyze the patterns of distribution of light and shadow on the cheeks, nose, chin and other parts of the face. If you paint over or mask them with hair, it will confuse the camera: they will not be able to separate the face from any other set of pixels in the image. Harvey offers to do an asymmetrical haircut, flowing to the eyes bangs, choose a skin tone different from yours, and apply makeup in unusual places. Learn to confuse the system of surveillance can be, after examining the video of another artist, Jillian Mayer. Like Harvey, she researched how to do makeup to save themselves from surveillance cameras, and told in a training video on YouTube.

Masks, confusing surveillance cameras

From the ongoing monitoring cameras help protect and mask. For example, such that creates an artist and curator Zach Blas. He designed a skeletal mask Face Cage, which does not allow the camera to recognize a face. This accessory is associated with the prison bars and the medieval instruments of torture is the literal embodiment of the freedom of the society of total surveillance. In addition, the artist organizes workshops, which talks about how to operate the biometric methods of face recognition, and explores different ways to hide from the cameras. For example, at one workshop the trainees Blas has scanned his own face and created a collective mask that helps to hide from any biometric technology.

American artist Leo Selvaggio has come up with a different strategy of disguise: he asked everyone not to confuse surveillance cameras, just hide them away in his face. Thus the artist not only helps the others to escape, but also makes it difficult to identify himself.

Accessory for notebook covering the webcam

Surveillance can be carried out not only through the surveillance cameras located in public places, but with the help of the Webcams of the Internet users. So people spied on the British GCHQ, which intercepted images from the Webcams of Yahoo chat users between 2008 and 2012. To solve this problem, the Creator of the famous forum 4chan Chris Poole came up with a simple accessory attachment laptop Spy Block that closes the camera and microphone. When Poole presented his invention at the conference, 3D Printing Day, organized by General Electric, he noted that it is not sure whether a surveillance program via webcam. However, he believes that this accessory is the perfect occasion to start a conversation about an important issue and recalled that the personal information in the age of surveillance is always under threat.


In the collection of the art instructions to Do It: The Compendium, created by the famous curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, contains a guide to "dazzle" security cameras are composed of Chinese artist and dissident AI Veyveem. In order to splash paint on the camera, which is impossible to reach without a ladder, you will need a stick, spray paint, a corkscrew, a nail and some household products. Following the instructions of the artist, you can create an effective tool to combat the system.

Surveillance himself

Instead of hiding from the security services, media-artist and Professor of art at the University of Maryland Hasan Elahi decided to make all content available. After 2002, the artist was arrested by the FBI for suspicion of terrorism, it has launched art project, to convince the intelligence agencies in his innocence. For several years Elahi has documented his entire life laid out on your site dozens of photos daily, copies of Bank transactions, and the GPS device in his pocket reported his location in real-time. If you believe Elahi, due to this, the site was visited by the employees of the Pentagon, the National intelligence Agency and the office of the President, but the charges on him were not. Elahi sees his project as a form of protest against state surveillance. "The best way to protect your privacy is to put it on display," he says.

Performances, distracting attention from ordinary people

Acting troupe from new York, The Surveillance Camera Players (SCP) for several decades puts a silent plays in front of surveillance cameras, thus "distracting" them and making it impossible for surveillance of ordinary people, moving in front of the cameras. The group has toured the world and consciously chooses to views the most crowded places. Members group usually put of the play based on the novel Orwell's "1984", the book "Psychology of the masses and fascism" by Wilhelm Reich, as well as come up with your own performances, dedicated to the surveillance. In addition, the group leader bill brown examines surveillance technology for over 20 years and to systematize the acquired knowledge, writes an encyclopedia of terms related to this phenomenon.

Mobile apps and browser extensions

To warn people and to inform about possible surveillance, some hacker group spread warnings through smart phones. This happened, for example, when in 2013 app of rapper Jay-Z in support of his new album Magna Carta Holy Grail is hacked and cloned. In the US independence day, July 4, it replaced the Wallpaper on infected devices on Obama's image with the slogan Yes We Scan. In the media suggested that the way the hackers were against the us government PRISM programme, which became known after the publication of the NSA documents. Another way to warn of the dangers of government surveillance programs, and to confuse them is a special browser extension ScareMail, which was thought up by artist and composer Benjamin grosser. It makes all emails as suspicious, adding to each message automatically generated text, which contains keywords for the tracking systems of the NSA. This lure is forcing agents to respond to the nonsense and undermines the normal operation of the security services. Each time these texts are re-created to avoid filtration of search engines. published

Author: Polina Todorova



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