2014 02 25 MKT Trying to go off the grid. Completely. | Marketplace.org


Trying to go off the grid. Completely. | Marketplace.org

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Interview by Kai RyssdalFebruary 25, 2014 – 2:44pm

From Edward Snowden to credit card breaches at Target; the past couple of years have made Americans pose the question; can anyone keep their data safe anymore?

In her new book “Dragnet Nation“, Julia Angwin tried to do just that: She conducted a series of experiments where she tried to hide herself from the giant that is U.S. surveillance. Her dodging-measures included quitting Google altogether and using a “burner phone” — an anonymous, prepaid mobile.

Angwin said there is an emerging market for privacy protection companies. She said she had a hard time with the paid services that promised to opt her out from data brokers. She says attributing blame, however, is a harder question.

“The data broker industry doesn’t have any incentive to accept opt outs,” said Angwin. “There’s no law to require them to remove your name from their databases.”

Angwin said that extreme surveillance can cause people to censor themselves.

“Once I know that they’re going to extrapolate one way or the other, I’m going to censor myself,” said Angwin. “If I’m feeling scared to say things, or to be associated with a site, or I don’t want to click, like, on a WikiLeaks page, because maybe they would tag me somehow. I’m worried about that feeling.”

Angwin said that kind of censorship is something Americans just don’t believe in.

“We want people to be able to say anything crazy that they want. That’s one of the foundations of this country.”


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