He went to a lot of trouble.05 Jan 2014
The other day, my wife mentioned an Internets I had to read. "Ooh, that sounds good," I said, and since I had my laptop on I visited the site. Sequence went like this:
Pop-up window asking permission to set a cookie; denied.
Site looks like crap, so fiddle with RequestPolicy and allow the site to request from the CDN.
Each of these steps prompted a refresh, which took a while because I mostly surf with TOR on these days. (Good thing the site didn't just block me because I'm coming from a TOR node, the way some sites do...)
All this was reflex. My wife watched what I was doing and smiled. "Your epitaph is going to be, 'He went to a lot of trouble. No adversary was too small.'"
And I smiled because that's true. Each of these things slows me down, is a pain in the ass, is one more thing that leaves other people shaking their head and wondering "Why bother?" But each one has its reason:
Cookies: do I really have to explain? If you're reading this, probably not.
NoScript and RequestPolicy really cut down on ads, plus there's the whole privacy benefit of not requesting every single web beacon out there.
TOR: a few reasons. First, to piss off the NSA. (Yes, that's a bit juvenile.) Second, to make bulk surveillance harder for them and others. Third, to provide cover for people who really need it (human rights activists, say).
All this reminds me of the "just one more thing..." breadcrumb trail that'd leave me, say, gradually funnelling all my money to a 419 scam. (I think it's unlikely I'll go too far, though. How private can you be when you're on Twitter?)
I'm starting to run into this sort of question with the kids. They want iPhones and Android phones and iPads and laptops and PS3s and I don't know what-all. My response so far has been to say "No," then "Not 'til you're 16 and you can give me an essay on 'Privacy before and after the Snowden revelations.'" And then my son asks, "What do you mean by that?" Trying to answer that, while simultaneously trying to figure out how to explain opsec and why it's necessary to a seven year-old, while simultaneously second- and third-guessing myself (I really do realize how crazy this all is), leads to about a 20 bit-per-minute communication rate during these conversations. And then the kids just wander next door to use the neighbour kid's iPad and dream of the day when they can buy their own.
It's enough to make me want to look up an NSA analyst and ask how they deal with it. (I bet I'd have to disqualify the answer on the grounds of "'If you have nothing to hide...' isn't acceptable." But maybe that's unfair.)
And since I can't think of a good way to end this, I'm just going to post it.