How to Disappear: Connections

The best way to think about privacy is connections. If you hit enter, send, download, or use your mobile and debit card you create a link. In the disappearing world, the goal is to avoid such connections.


We Are Human & We Are Digtal

Recently I gave a talk at New Scientist Live in London. Before the talk, I was going over my speech and thinking about some of the critical points about privacy and disappearing. Top of my list was the idea that we are two entities, physical and digital. When individuals think about tweaking their privacy or hitting the road in a vanishing act, they focus on the digital and overlook the human aspect.

We, humans, tend to forget that we are creatures of habit and such habits can make us vulnerable. Take the extra time and focus on your human traits. Find the idiosyncracies about you that can reveal your plans. Such can be travel habits, select types of coffee, rare medicine, and one travel destination.

We are human and we are digital.

Frank M. Ahearn

The Mind – The Only Place For Freedom!

A new year and new thoughts about privacy. What I have been thinking about is what happens when smartphones go beyond being smart? I am not talking about the rise of the machines and other fine Hollywood fantasies. Although, Hollywood fantasies tend to be on the mark. What I mean is when hardware will be able to extract information from us by touch. Maybe they can now, I do not know. I am not referring to when your thumb or retina unlocks an iPhone or laptop. But when you pick up a random mobile phone or laptop will it ever be able extract our fingerprints or DNA? I know these are not original thoughts but I do feel these are thoughts we should ponder.

In privacy, the initial strategies are always how avoid or combat intrusions. It is difficult to imagine how one would go about using technology if machines could extract information from humans. The same way humans extract information from machines. Creating and protecting privacy always comes down to who is better at the game.

We know we are being tracked online and watched by the eye in the sky or the random person across from us with a Twitter account. So the question is, when do the machines come alive and join the party? When must we become concerned about that human to machine touch? How we will live free among this coming predation. Maybe the mind will be the only place available for privacy and freedom.

Frank M. Ahearn
Author of: The Art of Disappearing: 199 Essential Privacy And Disappearing Tips

The Luxembourg Talks…

Is privacy real or are we chasing a grand illusion? Do any of us truly know or understand what privacy means to us as humans? Most of us understand the idea of privacy in an intrusion sense, like foot prints, location services and hacking. Yet, many fall short when discussing the idea of human privacy. Think about it, we protect our computers, mobile phones, data, and assets. Privacy protection appears separate, when maybe we should think of our technology and our self as one.

The key topic of this month’s Luxembourg discussion was how will the pursuit of personal privacy today effect personal privacy in the future? The truth that came out was no one had been thinking of personal privacy in the future. Most admitted when they thought of privacy they thought mostly about business privacy, protecting data and assets. Another question that surfaced is should asset protection go beyond the corporation and into a client’s personal life. Meaning if you are keeping their assets private should you not also consider ways of protecting their personal privacy.

I think privacy needs be re-invented and we must recognize that we are no different than the tools we use. If we download a virus protection for our computer should we not think about how to protect our human actions from intrusion?  Certain intrusions will exist in our life no matter what, however, it is how we operate around these intrusions that are key. Begin thinking about privacy from a as collective and a from long-term perspective. Think beyond the setting up of a corporation, think about you as an asset.

Frank M. Ahearn
Author of: The Art of Disappearing: 199 Essential Privacy and Disappearing Tips

Lady Luxembourg

Luxembourg café, sipping coffee with time to kill… I strike up conversation with a woman from LA. She has been living in Europe for fifteen years. In brief, we share our history and begin to talk about what it means to leave a world behind. She revealed that she ran from something, though not a predator but a broken life. A random trip dropped her on the streets of Luxembourg and she fell in love and knew it would become her home.

Upon arrival, she felt much like an outsider and unsure how to integrate. At first she blamed the people and the multi-culture of the city. However, as time moved she discovered that she carried her old world into her new. In her words, she planted a damaged seed in good soil. She realized that working and setting up a new household was only one part of moving on from the past.

The how to tools of privacy are important but by no means are they the only ingredients for living successfully off the radar. I have said it a thousand times, you cannot be Jack the bus driver in London and the then be Jack the bus driver in Monaco. Therefore, think beyond the fears of connections, the discreet communications, the Five Flag Theory and offshore banking. Think about who you want to become and work that as hard as you work your expectations of privacy.

Frank M. Ahearn
Author of: The Art of Disappearing: 199 Essential Privacy and Disappearing Tips

Co-Existing With Intrusion

My philosophy of privacy has drastically changed and the exiting of the how to disappear business has finally become a reality. The idea of spending the next ten years creating deception for the purpose of disappearing people or solving digital problems no longer works for me. Even further, talking about disappearing has become a struggle because I no longer believe in the work. This is not to negate the validity of the disappearing tools I created but to say that I believe there is a different approach to privacy.

We must prepare for what is to come because technology is growing smarter. The extracting of our information, movements and connections is what technology is perfecting. Call it the rise of the machines or standard operating procedure. With that said, perhaps extreme disappearing, deception and digital disaccord will not be the correct tools to use for combat. Or even, maybe combating is not the solution either.

The idea of co-existing with intrusion and footprints have become primary in my thoughts. Not in the surrender but in the rise of accepting. Like that of a Digital Nomad who gives up a little bit of privacy to exist in their own idea of freedom. If anything, disappearing is about freedom and freedom should be a dream, not an escape. I recognize that this idea is not a possibility for all but then again, disappearing is not for all.

I will continue to offer consultation for the next few months.

Frank M. Ahearn

Author of: The Art of Disappearing: 199 Essential Privacy and Disappearing Tips

Co-Existing With Digital Footprints

I have been thinking that privacy is no longer about being so extreme and trying to avoid digital footprints. Perhaps it is about co-existing with digital footprints and a certain amount of intrusion in order to create a lifestyle which actually leads to freedom. The reality is, technology is not going anywhere and the walls of how we access and communicate are only going to become thinner. Good thing, bad thing, who really knows but no matter what most of us will indulge.

The question is how does one co-exist with digital footprints? Do we just walk blindly into the night? Do we throw up our hands and say come take our information? No, definitely not. Like other situations in life we choose our battles. Choosing such battles takes personal responsibility and a conscientious act of deciding which technologies are a positive. One needs to determine if the sacrifice of personal information is worth the service being provided.

Think about the value of information from this point of view. You go to the corner store to purchase milk. The counter person offers the milk free in exchange for access to your mobile phone and email contacts. How many times have you been asked this when downloading an app? To some the milk exchange is absurd but to others, it is fair. It comes down to how you place a value on information, both your and others. Meaning, let’s say you turn down the milk offer but an hour later a friend of yours goes to the same store to buy a package of Ring Dings. The counter person makes the friend the same offer unlike you, the friend agrees to the exchange.

Begin to think about the value of your information and think about those you are connected with and how they are protecting your information. You could be fighting a battle of information that has already been surrendered by a friend, family or business associate. Perhaps co-existing is realizing that surrendering select information is inevitable and at times out of your control. This acceptance allows you to move forward and focus on real issues.

Frank M. Ahearn
Author of: The Art of Disappearing: 199 Essential Privacy and Disappearing Tips