The “new normal” is at the doors. Here are a few tips for your techno-dictatorship survival kit
The non-neutral Internet is going to make your life harder. Your everyday life is going to rely to a much higher degree on the digital world. You need to be aware of this and be able to distinguish between those things that you can do safely and those things that are not safe to do.
Here are a few tips for living in “the new normal”, as they like to call it.
- Stop giving away information about your browsing habits. Use two browsers on your computer — one with low security, which you can use to connect to your social networks and a second browser with high security settings (cookies, history, ad-blocking, etc.), which you may use for browsing.
- Avoid browsing from your phone.
- Try to use a safer e-mail address either from a paid hosting service or from a trusted service (eg, protonmail.com)
- Don’t just bookmark the interesting stuff you find on the net. Save that content locally. Tomorrow it might no longer be there.
- Make sure you don’t save any kind of illegal content. Authorities are going to start chasing people based on illegal content and they are going to be much harsher than before.
- Avoid using illegal software or illegal content (eg, pirate software, movies, books, music, etc.). In the new normal identifying and prosecuting piracy is going to be much easier for authorities. Also very importantly, avoid distributing illegal content.
- Avoid searching for illegal content. This is particularly sensitive if you are a journalist investigating a controversial story. Beware of every keyword you enter into the search field of a search engine, as they may be recorded and associated with your IP and your identity. One day, it may all be used against you.
- Try to cover your laptop’s camera when you don’t need it.
- Try to avoid using your old favorite search engine and make use more often of alternative search engines, such as duckduckgo.com or startpage.com. They seem to be independent so far.
- Try to store your personal files protected using a password. Store them in password-protected ZIP archives on external drives or other forms of safe protection.
- When sending personal or sensitive information over the net, try packingit into a password-protected archive.
- Use long passwords. I mean very long passwords (passphrases, actually). Find five or six (or even more) randomly-chosen words whenever you make a new password. Write them down, memorize them over a few days, then destroy the paper slip.
- Try not to be addicted to your phone, laptop, or tablet. Learn to use pen and paper again and do use them more often.
- If possible, try to save a hard copy of your important text and data.
- Experiment going out without your phone; enjoy that awkward sense of freedom.
- Try to get the habit of buying no-identification tickets (eg, for bus, train, events etc.). However, beware that this might be considered suspicious behavior.
You need to be accustomed to the fact that the new normal is a dictatorship. You may not be aware of it yet, but you’ll slowly see its symptoms pop up here and there. It is a totalitarian regime with a certain diversity from country to country, from state to state. It is the perfect dictatorship, because Stalin, Hitler, Ceaușescu or Mao didn’t have the technologies that governments today have.
The new normal is a political world where ordinary citizens are divided in two main categories: the docile and the heretics (and various shades of grey in-between). Heretics are going to be chased for and punished. Their personal history is going to be inspected and every little fault is going to be used against them. And yes, there’s a third category, too: the mandarins, which means those who work for the system in some way or another and enjoy benefits not available to ordinary citizens.
The new political world disregards human rights and basic freedoms. In the new type of surveillance-capitalism-and-communism-at-once, governments try to identify citizens based on their online behavior, their conversations, and their personal habits. Freedom of speech and freedom of opinion are going to be slowly lifted. Merely talking about particular topics is going to be a crime. Merely having an opinion that contradicts or questions the official narrative is going to be a crime. This is how it really was in the Nazi Germany and in the communist countries for decades, just in case you’ve missed it or forgot it.
Ah, one more tip. Be not afraid. Fear is the main weapon of the new tyrants.