With their disclaimer, “Use your powers for good,” privacy advocates, Trace Mayer and Bill Rounds from, HowtoVanish.com, teach users the importance of being invisible on the grid. Giving helpful tips like, “How to surf the web anonymously,” and “Deleting personal information from the Internet,” Rounds and Mayer warn readers that, “TMI” in the information age is the death knell, and encourages users to rethink their social media activity when engaging on-line.
If you are constantly updating your friends on FaceBook, telling them where you are, and what you’re doing, someone who isn’t a friend, now knows when your house is empty and when it’s not. Simply by scanning your posts for a week or so, an enterprising person can easily piece together a rough lay-out of the inside of your home from the dozens of pictures you uploaded, and with that, maybe they notice one of the windows in the background is consistently unlocked. When you announce, “Yay! Just bought a new Flat-screen!” or “Leaving for Barbados today, be back in two weeks,” you just made yourself a potential target.
Pushing the more dramatic events aside, Rounds and Mayer also show users how some unsavory actors are legally mining all of our personal data and selling it to third parties, and based on consumers’ self-stated preferences and purchasing habits, choking our email accounts with an avalanche of micro-targeted spam.
Combined with a heavy focus on ways to protect yourself from identity thieves, avoiding detection from surveillance cameras rounds out their menu of pro-active evasive measures. In a diatribe against what they perceive as an intrusion of surveillance technology in the public square, Rounds and Mayer suggest in the following video that using lo-tech solutions like, hooded sweat-shirts, baseball caps and sunglasses are fairly effective ways to obscure your identity.
Donning a cap and sunglasses, and disguising himself behind a fake beard, “Pain Killer,” David Laffer found out the hard way how little his attempts at subterfuge worked to his advantage.
When viewing a person of particular interest via surveillance video, investigators know that the images are just a starting point; they don’t look at it and say, “Hey, I know that guy; case solved,” or, “is that so-and-so at the protest rally?” Sometimes, after a suspect has already been identified, surveillance video merely serves as a piece of supporting evidence, confirming what may already be a well established fact, regardless of disguises.
Admitting that their advice isn’t foolproof, and stressing that shouldn’t be used to avoid capture while in the commission of an unlawful act, readers of, “How to Vanish” should know that evading detection is more likely to occur as a result of poorly maintained, inferior camera equipment; a worry clients of CCTV Services Inc. don’t have.
Here’s how well Laffer’s disguise worked.