EPIC! How to totally get completely off the surveillance grid, pretty much

in #informationwar5 years ago (edited)

HOW CAN YOU TRULY BE 'INVISIBLE' TO SURVEILLANCE? I read this a while back and I keep thinking about it and referring to it so I figured I should post it up. This post is about a fellow who decided to get off the surveillance grid and goes through how he did it. Even if you can't do every thing he does anyone who seeks more privacy can benefit from this guys experience.

In today's all-connected world, it can seem impossible to remain truly anonymous and insulated from being tracked, watched or indexed by the internet or other means.


But Jameson Lopp, CTO at Bitcoin security company Casa, has discovered how to get off the grid.

Lopp devised an exhaustive, albeit extremely complicated, list of 15 steps to 'escape the all-seeing eyes of corporate America and the government,' according to the New York Times.

Among the solutions Lopp recommends are to create an LLC to shield your identity, use cash as much as possible, quit using a smartphone GPS for directions and even move to a new home.

The goal was to completely remove himself from databases that host our personal information and sell it to third parties, the New York Times reported.

His concerns aren't unlike the recent attention that's been given to the shadowy underworld of 'data brokers' and online surveillance systems that profit off the sale of users' data - often without their knowledge or consent.

Many organizations, ranging from telecommunications firms and hotels to the likes of Silicon Valley giants have been criticized for extensively collecting and sharing users' data.

Facebook and Google in particular have been called into question for the massive amounts of data they store from users.

But the rise of facial recognition technology and other types of biometric authentication has also stoked fears of a global surveillance state in which anyone's whereabouts can be easily tracked.


Many of Lopp's strategies sought to stamp out the kinds of information collection and monitoring overseen by federal agencies.

To start, he sought to mask his identity by creating a limited liability company, or LLC.

People can be recorded in a database each time they fill out a form for everyday things like buying a property, registering a credit card or other common transactions, the Times noted.

In some states, it's not required for the owner's name of an LLC to be publicly available.

This makes it that much harder for people to snoop on and track down the owner of an LLC.

After his LLC was established, Lopp set up new bank accounts and payment cards, creating a bank account under his new LLC, as well as a corporate credit card with a firm that doesn't require users to list their name.

He now purchases items with a prepaid debit card, which has money already loaded onto it, limiting the number of transactions linked to his LLCs.

Lopp also uses cash for many purchases, which allows him to remain anonymous.

The Bitcoin evangelist then got a new phone number that's linked to his LLC and often uses services that create random phone numbers that are deleted after each call, akin to having a burner phone.

He has changed his phone habits as well, by refusing to use the device for GPS directions and disabling geolocation services.

This means his device can't keep a record of his location activity, which also prevents apps on the device from slurping up that data too.

When Lopp needs directions, he uses a GPS device that isn't tied to him, the Times said.
Many organizations, ranging from telecommunications firms and hotels to the likes of Silicon Valley giants have been criticized for extensively collecting and sharing users' data

Many organizations, ranging from telecommunications firms and hotels to the likes of Silicon Valley giants have been criticized for extensively collecting and sharing users' data


A Virtual Private Network (VPN) extends across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data while maintaining the secrecy of a private network.

VPN's are often used to allow employees to access the server of their office/workplace to allow for mobile working.

They increase privacy and the internet security of users connected to public networks.

They are also used to link offices/branches of the same company that are in different locations.

Theoretically, all the information that passes through a VPN secure and can not be intercepted by anyone else.

Although they do not offer total anonymity online, they are often used to optimise privacy.

VPN's can also be used by individuals to allow them to get around geographical restrictions and censorship - for example, accessing the Netflix of the US from the UK or vice versa.

Their use in 'geo-spoofing' locations is also used in to aid freedom of speech as many users wish to escape the limitations placed on their browsing by employers, organisations or third-parties.

A VPN can also help protect you against malware or cons on the web.

He recommends that users encrypt their data when traveling so that if officials seize your device, they're unable to access private information stored on any devices.

Lopp also uses a Virtual Private Network when browsing the web at home to mask his IP address.

In what is perhaps some of his more drastic measures, Lopp also moved into a new house, which he purchased in full using a cashier's check from his LLC, uses a pseudonym when interacting with his neighbors and wears a disguise when traveling outside to avoid being tracked by CCTV cameras or facial recognition software.

Lopp got rid of his motorcycle and Lotus Elise sports car as part of the effort and, instead, purchased a more 'boring' model under the LLC, the Times said.

Additionally, he acquired a decoy house to throw off the local Department of Motor Vehicles, as they require residents to register a new car with their real name and an address.

'It’s the crappiest, cheapest hole in the wall I could find that has a physical mailbox,' Lopp told the Times.

To further protect his location, he only works remotely and reports into videoconferences from an obscured room.

Lopp also set up a private mailbox to prevent his name from being added to mailing lists and has packages sent through a remailing service, which sends the package to a random address, then reroutes it back to the private mailbox, according to the Times.

Finally, he recommends that people hire a private investigator periodically to try to find them.

In all, he estimates the process of going off the grid cost him $30,000, the Times said.


This guy is a new hero of mine. I liked how this article confirmed some of the things I was already doing were effective and suggested some great ideas. LLCs are great not just for anoninymity but also for their main purpose which is to limit your liability, you sould always buy any rental property in an LLC so that if you are sued over something related to the property you can't lose more than the property.

Here is a summery of Lopp's tips:
Create a new corporate identity
Set up new bank accounts and payment cards
Carry cash
Get a new phone number
Stop using a smartphone for GPS directions
Move to a new house
Use a fake name or pseudonym
Use a Virtual Private Network when browsing the internet at home
Get rid of your flashy car
Purchase a 'decoy house' to prevent being tracked by the DMV
Establish a private mailbox and remailing service
Use a disguise when going outside
Don't work in an office setting
Encrypt your devices when traveling
Hire a private investigator to make sure you can't be tracked

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Thanks for the great post! This topic is about what most people call the "gray man" strategy.

I've posted about it before, but one thing to do is get a UPS Store address. Then use that address for your driver's license.

I haven't done it yet, but you should also buy land or a house with a trust. Then the trust's name shows up everywhere in databases, not yours. It helps a lot to shield your identity.

GPS on phones is just one way people are tracked. Phones can also be tracked by cellular tower triangulation. You'd be surprised how valuable that data is. For example, they can tell you were in the same car with the guy who robbed the bank last week. Any data that matches up closely to others reveals relationships and proximity. It's very powerful, and the government uses it.

Use throw away phones you've bought far away from where you live as a solution.

PI's are expensive. Most of the database searches are accessible to regular people too. The stuff that is not like DMV records will still give your location away. They would still be able to find me by my UPS Store address. Still, it helps. I recommend people never have their home address on their license. This is especially true for women who are being carded on a regular basis.

Utility companies are the main culprits of selling private data. They will sell your details to third parties. That data is also available to government agents. You need to make sure no utility is ever in your name.

If you have no utilities in your name, don't have a driver's license, and use burner phones and cash, you can "disappear" from the grid. It wouldn't be easy to do though, and you wouldn't live a very comfortable life doing it.

If people are that concerned about their personal security, they are better off leaving the soon to be largest open prison in the world, the USA, now before it is too late.

the requirement to have a physical address seems like a clue about what state he lives in, I wonder why he couldn't register his vehicles as commercial vehicles under a corporation.

Seems to me you'd really have to be paranoid that the government really cares what your up to, three hundred million people and there suppose to care about this one particular person. Just live a low key life and no one's going to give much care what you are up to.

I don't feel like his main goal was to avoid government spying, that was of course part of it but, it seemed like a lot of it was to prevent corporate and individual spying and tracking, it's a lot harder to hide from Google than Uncle Sam. He seems like a fellow with a lot of cryptocurrency and free time on his hands that likes a challenge.

Boom! This one caught a wave ;)

Great subject for discussion. $30,000 seems pricey to get off grid.

As you say, lots of good tips however. With some extra great tips from @finnian

For like a month I have been thinking about posting it here, it's like the perfect article for Steemit. I think I also have to post Al Queada's memo on how to avoid drones for anyone who hasn't seen it.

The decoy address surely has its advantages but I feel like there has to be a way to register a car as a commercial vehicle without using a residential address or personal name. My mother had a van with commercial plates and when I crashed it the ding went against the business instead of on my record. I wonder if it is a matter of the state law in his state.

"...how to avoid drones..."

I am looking forward to that.

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I did almost all of these things. I guess the expensive ones that cost most of that $30k are the ones I didn't undertake, as it cost me nothing at all, and actually saves on expenses. I paid in cash in full for my home and no deed is recorded in any way. I also don't have any kind of bank account at all. Some other things I do are to make deals with neighbors, such as for various services that I can pay them directly in cash for, such as electric power, water, internet and etc...

If you focus on people, specifically being good to people in and around your location, it's pretty amazing how willing they are to be good right back, particularly when doing those good deeds comes with cashback, just like a Discover card =)

Who wants their neighbors all up in their business. I'd say people stand a better chance having a dispute with a neighbor then a government entity, how often do you really interact with the government versus your neighbors.

I would like to specify that interactions with 'government' are always interactions with people employed by government. Around here, many of those folks are neighbors (I live in quite a small village). When you live in a village it's pretty much guaranteed that everyone is gonna know what's up with their neighbors.

Developing a good relationship with neighbors isn't only a good idea just to help keep the peace on good days. In the event that bad things happen - and they do from time to time - being someone all your neighbors are willing to check on might save your life. Having good working relationships with both neighbors and government also helps to limit the negative potential of disputes.

Besides, I like my neighbors. They're mostly pretty good, down to Earth folks. None of them, nor I, are free of foibles and flaws. Being on good terms helps keep those from being problems between us too.

I guess that may work in a small environment but for cities they have become to transient of a population.

I paid in cash in full for my home and no deed is recorded in any way

Then how can you prove you own it and pay taxes on it?

Do you at least have some prepaid cards? Credit cards make some things much easier.

Why do I need to prove anything to anyone regarding property ownership? The question does not come up. I do not pay taxes on it. None are assessed. I can use prepaid cards, but didn't last year, and rarely have need.

i haven't seen any plots of land or houses assessed at zero for tax purposes.

And I shall remain pseudonymous. I apologize for being so cryptic, but I have paid dearly for being too blatant in the past, and see no need to invite such challenges once again. I will point out that there are other definitions of home, house, property, and the like than are in common use, and also that various zoning and business regulations sometimes provide not only abatements of tax, but subsidies. I am vague not only to remain cryptic, but because there are many mechanisms that thoughtful people can use in their particular circumstances and jurisdictions to achieve similar, and even better, circumstances than have I.

I am convinced that careful consideration of local jurisdictions, thoughtful seeking of anomalous outlying conditions, and particularly creating good relationships with relevant parties can illimitably improve the circumstances of everyone that undertakes to do so. It is not often easy to surmount the ideologies and basic beliefs we assume natively, and it is through the existential peril I have come that has driven me to do so, and enabled me to grasp apparently novel solutions to intractable forces.

I hope that by sharing the potential of such solutions without specifics other good people might be able to challenge their paradigms and escape the boxes they have been confined in.

absolutely, it all depends on what your goal is, anything is possible and I respect what you are trying to do.

Utility companies are selling your identity and details to third parties. The way around this is to buy a property using a trust. Then the trust gets the utilities, not you. When you have utilities and tax bills in your name, you gave up everything.

Paying cash for items definitely helps, but things like utilities and property taxes are put into databases that the government and, in some cases, PI's can search.

I see utilities as a real weakness though. It is one reason why I want to be completely off grid one day. That's also why a lot of places make it illegal to be completely off grid. Your driver's license will also be used against you, and they make finding a person very easy for law enforcement.

As I noted earlier, I do not have any utility bills. Were neighbors unavailable to do so in my stead, a trust or LLC might well prove the best solution. I have neither tax bills nor utility bills coming to me. I renewed my driver's license while living innawoods, and the address on it is a creek drainage. I do completely agree that simply providing one's own utilities is the ultimate best option. I have long used a solar panel for auxiliary power, and used to have a rain barrel that collected water from my gutters. That proved difficult, so I have arranged for a different solution for water.

What a way to live a life as a American citizen or and citizen anywhere for that matter. Still great info and advice but at a certian point moving to a less oppressive country seems to make more sense. But where? Puerto Rico? Malta? PH?

Puerto Rico is part of the United States. Seems like mostly he wanted to avoid corporate surveillance like Google and individuals finding/tracking him, and that doesn't matter what country you are in. The point of the exercise was to get off the surveillance grid and live where he wanted to live and still be able to use all the technology but without being tracked. I'm not sure what oppression he was subjected to.

I've been researching this answer for years, and so far the best option I have found is Paraguay. There's a good reason the Bush family bought a huge plot of land there... 10% tax rates, good gun laws, forest (sustained life) and mountains (fresh water), etc.

Insane! Or spend the same and move to Montana... Or Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming....

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I wonder how much he spent on the decoy address and how much on the LLCs and burner phones.

Yeah that's not too much for the voip calls. Address was having his business buy land. That's not cheap

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It costs a few hundred dollars at least to have a lawyer register a LLC and it said he had several. I don't know why he didn't just get commercial plates for his business and register the car to it, I guess it depends on what state you live in. It's not too low key to ride around with out of state plates.

I have written many contracts myself, as well as Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and the like. Once you read a few, grasp the basic legal theories relevant, and keep your limitations in mind, it's not really that difficult to do yourself. There are also 'boiler plate' documents you can just go to a print shop and buy cheap - a couple bucks for a one page document for a given purpose, such as a rental contract.

It has been a while but I seem to recall some significant filing fees for LLCs, but maybe that was something else. That boiler plate rental contract from the print shop could end up costing you thousands.

You are not wrong, but it's often better than nothing, and having bespoke contracts drawn up by attorneys will almost always cost you thousands anyway. The reality is that there is no substitute for personal understanding and knowledge, and having it enables you to prepare your own documents. That's what I did back in the day. I no longer have need.

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