The ubiquity of technologies has deprived modern man of privacy. We are being watched not by web cameras and cyber police, but by our own smartphones as well, popular search engines keep “full record” of all our personal search history.
Is the are chance to be completely out of the sight of “Big Brother” for a little while?
Innovation House has made compilation of 5 striking disappearances with subsequent spectacular repatriations, and has found some lifehacks for those, who wish to shelter against full surveillance package, even if this will not last long.
Evan Ratliff: 25 days to catch
In 2009 the Editor at Wired Magazine, Evan Ratliff, decided to voluntarily disappear as part of the experiment. Despite all the precautions taken by him, 25 days later he was found by the Magazine readers, who were offered $5,000 reward.
It is understood, however, that Mr. Ratliff took a lot of precautions: he used prepaid phones (with no linkage to his passport details), put aside his bank cards, disguised himself and moved from one end of the country to the other.
But what made his cover blown? Hackers managed to hack his Tor (software for anonymous communication online) and got a list of IP addresses used by Evan Ratliff to go online.
Cunning parliamentarian John Stonehouse
The story of John Stonehouse is less known, but no less impressive. He was the British MP and in 1974 he faked his suicide to dig himself out of “money pit” that sucked him in upon the attempt to launch his business. Mr. Stonehouse betrayed himself during money transfer transaction from one his fake identity to another fake one. As a result, the ex-politician was sentenced to 7 years in prison for fraud and forgery.
The fugitive from CIA Edward Snowden
Yet another easy to remember “missing in action” scheme was pulled by Edward Snowden, former CIA employee. In 2013 he told the world that the US intelligence agencies keep tabs on the citizens of various countries on the internet and disappeared. He was charged in the USA under three articles, up to ten years of imprisonment each. But thanks to his cold-blooded premeditation and technical proficiency Snowden managed to disappear.
On May 20, 2013 he took a leave from the National Security Agency for several weeks on the pretext of receiving treatment for his epilepsy and flew to Hong Kong, where he rented a hotel room. Then he started encrypted correspondence with journalists, using all the possible safety regulations: “clean” phone, network of reliable VPNs, minimal contact with the outside world, and even special bag of invisibility every time he entered a password.
On June 10 Snowden left The Mira hotel in Hong Kong and hit the road heading to Russia, where he lives to this very day. However, if Snowden was not granted the political asylum, he would be eventually arrested. It is common knowledge that former CIA employee is still living in Moscow. Moreover, his physical location was established right up to underground railroad station, even though his does not use any mobile phone since 2013.
Giovanni Rebolledo: ultimate conspiracy
The story of Colombian criminal recidivist Giovanni Rebolledo may serve as a good example showing that it is virtually impossible to evade justice.
In 2013 Mr. Rebolledo broke out of prison, where he was sentenced to 60 years. He not only changed his appearance, but also changed his sex and adjusted his identity.
A few months after his escape, police raided local prostitutes. And to everyone’s surprise, the recidivist was one of the “street walkers”. Despite such an ultimate conspiracy, he was identified and was returned to a prison.
Corrupted judge Mykola Chaus
There are lots of fugitives among Ukrainians too. Corrupted judge Mykola Chaus, who left the country in 2016, is a vivid example of this statement. It is yet not known, exactly how he managed to leave the territory of Ukraine.
Journalists were speculating that the judge was in the annexed Crimea, Russia and Belarus until Mr. Chaus revealed himself, having claimed political asylum in Moldova.
It is still unknown whether he used false document, got rid of his devices and social network accounts, since the history of the judge has not yet ended.
How to “hide” from the world
Famous stories clearly indicate that it is impossible to be cut off from the outside world. But, sure thing, we know nothing about the successful attempts to hide, otherwise they would not be successful.
You may hide from huge surveillance system for some short time. But for that to happen, you shall first get rid of your favorite devices. Smartphone, tablet, and laptop are the first to give up your location. What is best for you is to miss without a trace without any devices, but if you feel much like doing this, you may buy an old push button phone without iOS and Android.
If you unable to separate yourself from the network, then, at the very least, you will have to change your laptop and use anonymizers, Tor, and VPN to go online. They will temporarily make it harder to discover your location.
It is best for you to forget about personal accounts in social networks, emails and cloud services for the storage of your data. As a minimum, they help corporations to be aware of the street of your location, and in the case of taxi like Uber, corporations will know your full address. Application may track your movements during five minutes upon completion of travel and, on top of all this, bank card payments are not conducive to have your anonymity preserved. For this very reason you shall get rid of your bank cards: from now on cash only.
Moreover, it is worth deleting all your virtual identity: all your social network profiles containing databases of your contacts and your behavioral patterns shall be deleted. Besides, social networks may tempt you to write someone of boredom.
It is extremely important for a person trying to be isolated from the rest of the world to be not visible to surveillance cameras. As soon as this person is captured by such cameras, he is immediately deanonymized by face recognition systems. At nighttime special cap with LED lighting technology will serve you well. At daytime, it would be better for you to dye your hair, to grow or to shave your beard off, to change the way you walk, to change your speech pattern and the way you present yourself to the public.
Despite all the precautions that may be taken by you, from year to year advanced technologies are making the task “to disappear without a trace” almost impossible: outdoor surveillance cameras, fingerprints when receiving documents, constant transmission of data on your location, queries on the network, apart from the possible hacking of your computer. Meanwhile, the line between the personal and social life is gradually blurring and we shall be ready for this.