Seven perfect gifts for privacy advocates


 By Simon Davies

It’s not too late to buy the perfect Christmas gift for the privacy advocate in your life. And, well, if you miss Christmas, you know the plan; just wrap it in tin-foil and call it a New Year’s present.


1. Window tint kit. $40 – $400. The perfect gift for any privacy advocate, and – well – anyone really. Look cool in your vehicle and make onlookers jealous. Be the envy of your friends while cruising the streets in anonymity (well, anonymity apart from licence plate recognition systems, mobile geolocation and predictive artificial intelligence vehicle tracking software). Still, appearances are everything in these days of designer labels and retail rivalry.

island_sale2. A small island. $1M – $1BN. Actually the last thing you’d purchase if you want to protect your anonymity is a small island. It’s sure to attract the attention of everyone from the Coast Guard to the Marines. The benefit is that everyone will become so obsessed wondering what you’re doing there that they will fail to notice that you’re actually living peacefully in some ordinary suburban ghetto in a featureless town. An expensive diversion, but a facility that’s still worth having for day-trips as long as you keep your mobile phone switched off while you travel back to your “real” home.


3. False beard. $30-$300. Never underestimate the privacy value of a false beard. Ignore what those lying bastards who market face recognition systems tell you. A good bushy false beard causes hell for their software. And you can go about your business in public without being pestered by casual acquaintances and police authorities who are looking for a clean-shaven guy (or woman) suspected of defrauding the local tax authority.woman-beard


4. Nokia 100 phone. $10-$20. Go analogue, or as close to analogue as you can get. A dumb phone is awesome. All it does it enable texts and voice calls but it circumvents the billion dollar tracking systems that are all aimed at smart phones. And they’re so cheap you can use a pre-paid SIM and throw the phone away every two weeks. In fact, why not buy a pack of three so the gift will keep on giving long past the New Year. An additional bonus is that retro is cool now and you’ll be ahead of the trend.


5. Privacy software. Free-$300. There’s loads to choose from. Go to http://download.cnet.com/windows/privacy-software/ and check out some of the awesome packages available. Although Microsoft and some other companies are starting to latch on to the demand for greater privacy it’s worth giving protection a kick-along. Look for file-shredding and shielding software that has both a high user rating and a high editor-rating. Of course the security and intelligence services tend to be a step ahead of commercial software, but the less raw data you generate the harder the task of tracking you.


Funny-bathroom-shower-curtain-decorating-ideas6. Curtains. $30-$500. Seriously, what is it about privacy advocates and curtains? Most of them don’t have any. You walk past a privacy advocate’s house in many countries and you can see everything that goes on in their private home. Part of the problem is that some communities (I’m pointing my finger at the Netherlands right now) seem to have a culture of transparency that makes people suspicious if they see curtains drawn. Or it may be that house builders just never thought about installing curtain fixtures. Either way, a set of quirky fun curtains should disarm even the most suspicious of nosy neighbours.


7. A virtual baseball bat. $30-$100. One day – and I hope that day is soon – the criminal scum that are responsible for all the junk messages we receive will be hunted down. Buy a virtual baseball bat in anticipation and engrave it with words such as “This is a present from the terminally ill daughter of the late president of Ghana” and then get all your frustrations out on them.