Across the world, our lives are being tracked and monitored as never before. Maybe you want to be off the government grid. Or maybe you just want to have less information out there about yourself for privacy reasons. There are ways you can do this.
Erase Your Digital Footprint…Completely
You will have to go back to the 1980s style of living. The Internet is a key way that companies gather your personal information. It’s not just the government. It might be data mining sites or an abusive ex you want to hide from (in the case of the latter, seek help from a shelter or law enforcement).
- Get off social media. You can’t stay off the government grid if you have a social media presence. That’s just the bottom line. You will have more privacy if you reduce your Internet footprint. Delete your old social media accounts.
- Even privatized accounts can be accessed. Don’t friend or follow people you know or you can be traced. Don’t shop online or bank online. Just don’t be online, period. If you feel you must, privatize your accounts and reduce your time spent on the Web.
Delete your information from data mining sites
It’s rather shocking how much personal information is available online about people, from their addresses to their familial connections.
- There are many paid sites online that will delete much of this information for you. Some data mining sites also have a process for you to ask for your data to be removed. This can be very time consuming, but it can be worth it. Step one is to Google yourself to see what’s already out there.
- The sites tend to have different processes for removal of information. Some will require letters and faxes. Most have a process to do so. Use a post office box to prevent the sites from getting your address in the future (although be aware they often purchase addresses from public records.)
Protect yourself from identity theft
It’s not just the government that may collect your personal information; you may want to protect your privacy from data mining and other sites.
- Change your passwords frequently, and don’t respond to spamming requests that demand your personal information.
- Destroy private information with a shredder. Memorize your social security number, and keep it in a safety deposit box or safe instead of carrying it with you.
Pay less money in taxes to the government
There are ways you can reduce government’s interference in your checkbook at tax time!
- Contribute money to a 401K account or IRA. Don’t pay off your student loans. You will be able to deduct the student loan interest.
- Buy a house, contribute to charity, take college classes, save your receipts, and have your taxes done by a professional who knows tax laws better than you do.
Use your own power. In the most simplistic sense, living off the grid can mean not connecting into government provided electricity. Survive on your own.
- Solar energy or your own generator can provide power instead.
- Make your own food by gardening. Settle on land that offers available water so you don’t need to depend on government for water.
Don’t drive much
In urban areas especially, surveillance cameras and police devices are able to track your movements through your vehicle’s license plate. Get rid of the GPS device in your car.
- Instead, walk or ride a bicycle when you can. In addition, avoid toll roads, toll bridges and HOV lanes because they are monitored with surveillance cameras. Take a cab and pay cash. Rental car information can be tracked.
- Avoid parking in garages and lots with surveillance cameras and, if you use public transit, buy the ticket from the machine instead of using a new card payment system.
Vary your routine
Don’t take the same exact route every time you go to the store or to work. Mix up your routine.
- Don’t get deliveries to your home because that will create a record. Use maps instead of GPS. Buy a shredder to shred all paper documents when you are done with them.
- Get a post office box so that purchases can’t be traced back to your home. This will make it harder for the government to trace you, not just data mining sites.
Watch your reading and viewing habits
Ordering streaming videos from a service like Netflix can put you on the grid. Instead, order DVDs. Get a game console with single player games so you don’t need Internet.
- Don’t order books from the library with a library card as these can also be traced. If you really want to disappear, get rid of all trophies and old personal items.
Live or Free Earn so little as to be exempt from paying taxes (and consider freeganism to survive). Squat for somewhere to live.
- Alternatively, Live in the Wilderness or Survive in the Woods. Make sure you are paid in cash, or cryptocurrency like bitcoin.
- Settle in a mid-sized city in a place that is not overly cold. Bigger cities have too many cameras and smaller towns won’t let you disappear enough.
Become Technology Free
Get rid of your cell phone
It’s going to be hard to stay off the grid if you’re using a cell phone. Law enforcement can triangulate and track your cell signal.
- It’s the built-in GPS in cell phones that makes you easy to track. Even if you don’t make a call, you can be tracked because cell phones and towers are constantly connecting with each other.
- You can also take the battery out of the phone. Or leave the phone somewhere if you want to throw people off.
Use pre-paid phones
Instead of a cell phone, use pre-paid phones that you can buy cheaply at department stores or gas stations.
- Give the person you want to talk to another pre-paid phone, and only talk using those phones. For now, you don’t even need an ID in most states to purchase a pre-paid phone.
- Use a pre-paid calling card for an extra layer of protection when using the pre-paid phone instead of dialing directly with it.
Use gift cards for purchases
If you have a credit card, you can be traced. It’s better to use credit card gift cards, and use those for purchases.
- You can buy these cards, by big-name companies like Visa and American Express, in many department and even grocery stores. You just throw them away when you use up the balance.
- There’s no statement attached to these cards, and you don’t provide your personal details when you buy them or use them.
Cancel any bank accounts
Use cryptocurrency like bitcoin or a pre-paid card paid for in cash. Or just try to use cash more than you currently do now.
- If you decide not to go that far and want to keep a bank account, do not use credit or debit cards, and do not do online banking.
- Be aware that banks are filled with surveillance cameras and transactions greater than $10,000 can be tracked by the government. So take out cash in small increments.
Encrypt your emails
First, set up a new email account in a different name. Try to use Gmail from Google because it defaults to using SSL encryption.
- If you want to encrypt the messages you send using any email, though, you can use tools like Encipher.it, with is an encryptor that you install. It allows you to give the text an encryption key before you send it.
- You will need to give the person on the other end of the email the key if they want to decipher the message.
Get rid of your computer’s hard drive
You can do this by boiling it and then smashing it with a hammer before discarding it.
- Buy a new computer (do not buy refurbished), wipe the OS and replace it with SSH, or linux-based OSs like Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, or Kali.
- Encrypt the hard disk with a strong password using Truecrypt, and use the hidden drive feature. Never connect it to the Internet.
Hide your IP Address
Better yet: Stay offline completely. This is your best chance at not having a footprint. If you must go online, try to hide your IP address.
- Do this by using a proxy server like Tor. It routes your webpage requests through many Internet routers. Some of these services get federal money, as it has turned out, so they may not be foolproof, though.
- You can also try other Web-based proxy servers like Proxify or the Ghostery extension available on Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.
- Do Internet searches at public libraries so the searches can’t be traced back to your IP address at all.
Fill the Internet with wrong information
People find you and find out information about you through the Internet.
- You can put misinformation out there on social networks and so forth, making it harder to tracers to find you.
- Loyalty cards given out by places like supermarkets for discounts will also put you on the grid.
Change your appearance and habits
If you’re trying to completely vanish, adopt a different look, including a different hair color.
- Drive a car that is the opposite of what would be expected. Change your lifestyle. Work as a janitor if you used to be a CEO, for example.
- Break all of your normal patterns, including where you eat, where you shop, and the kind of work you do. Live a simple life so you don’t stand out.