How to be incognito in the real world

Big Brother is watching you... Here's what you can do about it.

How to avoid CCTV cameras

The surveillance state is here, watching you at every corner—from your apartment all the way to work, the mall, and the club. It is not unthinkable to go completely dark online, but how do we move in the real world without being seen?

1. Encrypt your communications

If you want to disappear from the eyes of your friendly local surveillance apparatus, keep a step ahead of it. Make sure no one can find out about your plans or whereabouts in advance by snooping on your communications.

SMS and phone calls are an absolute taboo, but you also have to be careful with email and all other unencrypted forms of communication.

In fact, if you need to hide from the authorities you can’t have a phone or anything with a SIM card again, ever. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a phone number, though, you just need to be extra careful with the virtual numbers you set up online.

2. Find a secure place to live

The more crowded, busy and chaotic your neighborhood is, the better. You should also find a building with multiple entrances, no guards, and as few video cameras as possible. Being close to markets, public transportation, and crowded places is a big plus.

Having roommates and subletting can make things a lot easier as you won’t have to worry about electricity bills and rental payments in your name. Ideally, you can move out anytime and don’t have to share too much information with your roommates—though you still need to trust them somewhat.

3. Always leave your devices at home

Your phone is the perfect tracking device. As long as it connects to a cell tower, it will transmit its serial number and SIM card identifier, allowing the police, the telco, and pretty much anybody to find out your exact location.

When connecting to Wi-Fi, your MAC address transmits to the router, which can use the signal strength to locate you in public parks and buildings.

You could use a laptop to route your traffic through VPN and Tor at public Wi-Fi spots, but even that may carry risks.

4. Be smart when you move around town

To get around, you will have to limit yourself and never break the following rules:

  • Don’t drive a car or motorbike
  • Don’t use ridesharing apps like Uber
  • Don’t use an electronic transit card
  • Don’t buy tickets with anything other than cash

Bicycles are pretty good, and so is walking. What matters is that you blend in with the crowd. If you live in a city where nobody walks, you shouldn’t either. If you’re the only one with a bike, don’t bother.

5. Beat facial recognition scanners

The biggest threat to your privacy will be cameras, and you will come across dozens of cameras in your daily routine. Luckily, automated surveillance is easier to beat than a human eye.

There are now millions of CCTV cameras operated around the United Kingdom, for example, and while most of them are privately operated, that data can still easily be made available to police.

To avoid automated surveillance, you should hide your face, for example, under a hat or a face mask. If you’re moving around by bike, your helmet will be the perfect cover.

Fight for privacy before you have to run

As long as you follow these tips for the sake of maintaining your privacy, you will probably do very well, although you won’t have a lot of opportunities to test things out.

A well-funded organization like a federal agency or mafia might still track you through their network of people on the ground and their ability to follow you from other clues you leave behind, such as interactions with shops, your employment status, or your friends.

The fight for privacy in the physical world might sometimes seem lost, but there are still many things we can do to preserve our liberties, and they don’t have to be as drastic as those in this post. But unless a significant number of people make a conscious choice for privacy, it might soon forever be lost for everyone.


    • Lexi,
      ….and your going to ignore me forever? Upset, with the comment regarding living in the U.S., “where only criminals have to hide.”

      Based on syntax alone, you’re located in the UNITED KINGDOM?

      I wasn’t shouting, I was just making it all caps.

      • Syntax does not reveal a location 🙂 That said, Lexie is definitely not British. Or is she? Lexie is an enigma wrapped in a mystery.


Please enter your name here
Please enter your comment!