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Spying on your phone and email


It was with great irony and despicable deceit that UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown was commemorating the fall of communism in Berlin on Monday.  In his remarks, he insisted that the tide of history was moving towards our “best hopes,” and praised the people who helped end tyranny and bring down the wall.

Too bad it was all poppycock.

Simultaneously, Brown’s government back in London was announcing its plans for the rather innocuous sounding “Interception Modernisation Programme,” which is a law that grants the British government access to the phone records, emails, and web searches of its citize… er, subjects.

To be clear, ALL European Union member states, including the UK, are already required by EU Directive 2006/24/EC to retain private electronic data for a period of 6 to 12 months. The information that governments must collect includes the date, time, duration, source, destination, and device information of all electronic communication, to include phone and email.

I came face to face with this directive while attempting to use a public internet terminal in Italy earlier this year– the attendant was required to make a copy of my passport, and I was notified that my web activity would be logged.  Needless to say, I politely declined.

Despite these utterly draconian measures, the British government believes that the EU directive does not go far enough.

Now, the Interception Modernisation Programme plans to force all electronic communication providers (wireless companies, cable companies, internet service providers, etc.) to keep a record of every communication by every customer for a period of 1-year, and make the data available to 653 public agencies.

The most insulting part about the program is that the communication providers will be reimbursed for this inconvenience at taxpayer expense to the tune of about $360 million each year.

The UK turned into a surveillance state long ago… and unfortunately the trend is getting worse, not better.

There are legions of yellow vested government do-gooders in constant presence across Britain’s cities without any apparent mission other than to exist and take notice.

Similarly, during one stay at a swanky London hotel, I counted 7 CCTV cameras on the route from the hotel bar to my room.  I once counted over 20 cameras at a busy London intersection.

In fact, signs reading “CCTV Monitoring in Progress” are ubiquitous, even in places where there is absolutely, positively no camera present. It’s almost as if the government intends to spook people into behaving properly, just like the “Do not open door, ALARM WILL SOUND” signs you see in the US. 

Hey, nobody wants to be the guy responsible for the alarm sounding… better keep that behavior in check.

Ironically, the UK’s spying program has its roots in a 1985 law called the Interception of Communications Act; at the time, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the practice of intercepting communications violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Ah, once upon a time, privacy was a human right? But then again, we were all fighting godless Soviet commies at the time and went out of our way to underscore individual freedom and liberty. 

Now our governments feel the need to protect us from angry men hiding in caves, damn the consequences.

I think there must be a lot of boiling frogs in the UK that are starting to notice how hot the pot is becoming.  Sadly, the reality of all governments is that once a power is given to the politicians, it is rarely relinquished.

Consequently, do not expect the British government, or any other, to sound the ‘All Clear!’ bell and suddenly abdicate its ability to monitor the citizenry.

So… what to do?

We’ve talked about anonymous mobile phone calls, offshore email accounts and TrueCrypt hard drive encryption before.  In addition to these tools, there are email encryption platforms available like EndCryptor (www.endcryptor.com) and PGP, which I will review in greater detail in the future.

For a more private web surfing experience, you can use a browser add-on like Tor (https://www.torproject.org/overview.html.en), and go through a secure tunnel VPN that will change your IP address, like www.publicVPN.com

Let me know  if you’d like more information on these tools and I can write a more detailed article.  Furthermore, I plan on releasing a list of countries that I have traveled to where privacy is still the rule, not the exception.

Our goal is simple: To help you achieve personal liberty and financial prosperity no matter what happens.

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About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kim

    I would like more info. Perhaps a numbered overview of steps to take for true privacy and protection? The key issues – and possible solutions – as you see them? Its easy to miss something and that is the one thing that could bring everything else undone….

  • David Thayer

    An in-depth article on protecting one’s personal privacy would certainly be appreciated!

  • http://www.ThatSpecialPlace.com AW


    We are definitely interested in WHATEVER you have to say, and if
    you ever are in Miami, please consider our home open to you…

  • Scott


    Thanks for the heads up on the government intrusions. Have you by any chance reviewed the U.S. government’s Einstein3 program? It’s similar to a burglar alarm protecting the inside of the house rather than the perimeter. I would appreciate a list of countries where privacy is still protected.

    Scott Wininger

  • J. M. Grimm

    Keep it up Mr. Black. Those of us who care about privacy need your help.

  • Noah

    I would love to know moer about protecting my privacy on my electronics! So if you get the urge, please write in detail. P.S. I am new to your mailing list and have really enjoyed what I have read so far! Thanks for what you do!

  • Will

    NIce Very Nice. keep writing/ and when you fly, how do you get the best rates? can you expound on that a bit..


  • jein

    i would be very interested to know as much as possible regarding both privacy measures and countries where privacy is still valued.
    many thanks

  • Mark

    More articles on privacy tools and your experience of countries that honor sovereignty … needed.


    Hell yes, I would like more info on ways to foil “Big Brother! Enjoy your NL – Keep up the good work.

  • mike dunham

    Dear Simon,

    I would like more information on private phone and emails.

    Best regares,

  • DM

    Interesting topic, but can we really hope for any privacy when using a public medium? Seems likely that email encryption and the like would
    tend to attract the kind of attention one is trying to prevent. Wouldn’t
    you assume that a government, or governments cooperating, could force any encryption service to divulge their coding system? Do UK and EU
    have any laws regarding encryption?

  • Hans

    Hi Simon,

    If you could go into more detail about tools we can use to protect ourselves that would be great.


  • Terri

    I am so very interested in this information. Govt is getting more invasive every day and I doubt the extent of this will really be apparent to us until it is way too late and of course nothing short of a revolution will be able to change it – in any country. With all this “survellance” we are talking about it really makes me wonder why “they” could not figure out and stop the guy who shot and killed the soldiers at Ft. Hood this past week. Or, did “they” know already and do nothing? They simply do not represent our – the people’s – best interest at all. It is time we figure that out and elect representatives that do. I know this varies from country to country, but certainly the people of the UK and the US should be at the forefront in making a change for the better – but alas, I think we have become lazy and too dependent on the govt and this simply will not happen.

    Yes, I would love more information. Thank you for all you write, I have learned so much in the short time I have been receiving your emails.

    Take care.

    • lrm

      lazy,too dependent on gvmt,and,unfortunatley,quite dumbed-down.
      http://www.deliberatedumbingdown.com and johntaylorgatto.com for top notch info on this.we are just seeing the effects of perhaps the first and second generations,who now have children,who have been themselves dumbed down. Add to this the increasing reliance on technology for everything,media to entertain at every turn [and i mean technology such as texting,ipods,etc. which are largely to distract and entertain-though very useful on their own-],and you have a populace that is largley not thinking at all,let alone thinking for themselves.

      You know,muscles atrophy when not used. The brain is no different. I am sure we all joke and get frustrated at how stupid customer service reps are,etc. but in all honesty,this is our future, as it stands.

  • Dan


    The more of these tools you can draw our attention to the better. Thank you.

    Also, the next time you are going through Heathrow T5, take a look up at what appears to be an unfinished celing throughout the terminal, it merely makes the numerous CCTV camera’s less noticeable.

    I actually read a book ‘How to be Invisible’ by JJ Luna, I found this great resource. (As full disclosure – I have no financial interest in this book or it’s sales in anyway). I am sure there are other equally interesting books on this topic out there.


  • Omar

    Hi Simon,
    Mexico just put into law something similar. Yes, please provide more info on these tools and other ideas.
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  • Brent

    Hi Simon;

    Yes, already use publicVPN.com. Another VPN provider your other readers might be interested in, if they’re not aware of it already, is Cryptohippie. Also, rayservers.com provide some interesting secure communication services (and as they put it, “for a post-bailout world”).



  • political atheist

    It’s all very Orwellian what is happening with privacy these days. London has more CCTV per capita and have admitted they have been completely ineffective in solving crimes. Clearly, Big Brother does not want you to even THINK of doing whatever it is you’re thinking of doing. That said, yes, I would love to learn about technologies that maintain privacy. I’ve heard of StartPage.com but haven’t really used it much yet. And I’m looking for an expatriate country and privacy is a concern. Your expertise is greatly appreciated.

  • donald

    more info on privacy tools?
    Yes please!!

  • Jim

    Please go into more detail. Am currently a resident of Panama and am interested in what you have to say regarding privacy here.

  • Chris

    If we are to prevail in defeating the tyranny that threatens to destroy our freedom and our very lives, all people must all band together in resistance. The attacks on our privacy, property and other crucial liberties must be stopped now.

  • jack

    Great article….I’m sure most of us are aware of the possiblity of intrusions, however, some more knowledge and information pertaining to this prevention would be greatly appreciated, especially the encryption aspect, vpn’s and other resources that are available to all of us and how to incorporate it all in laymans terms. Thoroughly enjoy your email articles. Keep them coming with all the insightful information you are finding around the globe.

  • Joe Chobot

    Hi Simon,
    Please give us all the information you have on this subject and tell why you think it is secure. Are the providers located outside the countries that monitor us?

    How about sending the most sensitive parts by postal mail, which I have read the Supreme Court has ruled does have the ‘presumption of privicy’, and then part by phone, and part by email.

    And of course, don’t break up your message in a linear fashion, but put one type of information in one method, and perhaps the action in another, refering to the number of the item in the printed and posted message, and the details of the action in the third method.

    Very Sincerely, Yours for Front Running,
    Timothy Geithner

  • BA

    Yes, I am interested. More info please.

  • Friend

    Grat product Simon.
    An easier more streamlined how to for gnupg/thunderbird email, would be great too.

  • Jason

    If the ability to communicate privately is lost, all will be lost. You must spead the idea if you have the ability. Thanks for the tip on TrueCrypt.


    • lrm

      Actually,if we are joined to the hip with technology,as though it were an extensive of ourselves,then,yes,we will feel we cannot communite privately.

      These tactics are largely mental-like the article points out-having signs even when there are no alarms or cameras.
      It’s the pavlovian response.
      designed to control the masses. It’s mind games and trickery in the end that will allow masses to be ruled by word and not force,which is much easier,cheaper and more effective for gvmts,anyway. similar to the way the cold war and ‘communism’/russia controlled the US populace for decades,teh same is occuring now.

      And we distract ourselves with being outraged that we cannot communicate by phone or email without being recorded. Hah! These ‘devices’ are very recent;they are not ‘who we are’,they are simply items we use. Do not be emotinally reactive,for being detached is what really wins the game.

      I am interested in tools,but not from a stance of spending my entire existence building my fort,as though it were a mission.

      It’s classic divide and conquer strategy on their part-here we all are worried that our ‘technology’ won’t be ours anyway. As though that is the litmus test of being a sovereign individual. The real issue is the control over us,not the means by which that control is enforce/enacted upon us.

      Sovereignty starts within,to be sure. Within the mind.

  • Chuck

    Hi Simon,

    Yes. Please do a review of the software and keep us informed. What is happening in Panama along these lines?

    • lrm

      hopefully someone has researched this by now;i’m sure it’s on the internet or on a panamanian gvmt website-telecommunications laws,etc. if someone has details,please report! thanks!

  • Dave

    Simon, although I am personally very interested in this information, even if I wasn’t, this is the type of thing people need to know! Please give us more of this!

  • Alec

    YES, PLEASE!!!

  • dennis dale stevenson

    please send updates on the encryption process–also, countries not so nosey–i am thinking of re-nouncing my citizenship for the freedom of a more social society

    • lrm

      renouncing and claiming another citizenship only makes you prisoner to the new country’s rules and laws. The point Simon continually makes is to have multiple flags,OPTIONS,so that in any situation,you have a choice,and are not bound by any one nation or location,unless you want/choose to be.
      That is sovereignty.
      It is w/in one’s own mind and life.
      Sovereignty is not a nation.

      And no single nation that you are contractually bound to,soley,will provide ‘more’ freedom or privacy than the US.
      Sure,you may love it in Chile,for example,or the DR,but I wonder if their citizens,the ones living in poverty,feel the same? They likely do not have options,and must live under a different set of laws,for hte most part. Just like your nationality and money currency give you relative freedom and ease in thailand,locals who live in a virtual caste system of sorts,do not benefit from this. They must hustle for the ability to accumulate and perhaps be able to have more power in legal and political situations than their poorer citizens. Renouncing one country for a theoretical other country is putting all your eggs in yet one more basket. Diversify=-just like they told you to do in old school investing. Same with citizenship. Diversify yourself and your interests,among different nations of your choosing,based upon your criteria,some of which can be researched here on sovereign man.

  • Jim

    Would love more info on tools, and any insights into Ecuador. We are planning to relocate there in the next 6-12 months.

  • doc

    Have you walked around London lately? It looks like friggin Baghdad. Hell, they need more surveillance over there. Its terrorist central. Britain was lost long ago. The demographics of Islam have overtaken their society. Its a jihad Dunkirk. Evacuate while you still can. No amount of surveillance will save them.

  • Larry

    I would like to know a secure email provider in some country that honors privacy.

  • Barry Whiteb

    I would like more information.

  • Charles Parker

    Yes, I would like for you to write a more detailed article on electronic privacy tools.

  • Angus Boyd

    I left a long, useful message on this topic and it hasn’t showed up. I’ll be pissed.

  • fred eastland

    i also would like to hear more on this subject.

  • John

    Dear Simon, a current essay, pamphlet or white paper released for a fee would be a good idea…..Make some money and get rid of tire kickers who are not serious :-)

  • Rich Adams

    Dear Simon,

    I can’t even begin to tell you how much MANY of us would VERY GREATLY APPRECIATE A more detailed report on this MUCH- NEEDED SUBJECT!!! PLEASE, PLEASE, do consider writing this for those of us who do not begin to know even a small part of what you know, but we need to learn it and QUICK!!! Thank you for offering this terrific and MUCH – NEEDED Report. And please know that we will very much appreciate your efforts to help educate those of us who NEED IT!!

    Sincerely, Rich Adams.


  • Philip George

    Dear Simon,

    I’ve read your ‘Notes from the field’ since it began I think. Not that long but it’s been a ride. I’m often thinking that ‘Simon’ must be 5 different people. I’ve learnt a lot and it’s been very enjoyable. Thank you!

    One thing: an obsession with ‘privacy’ doesn’t seem like a healthy thing. If we are decent people, we have nothing to hide. We can still enjoy talking openly here and let’s not think that it’s ever been easy. A harmonious human world is not a ‘right’, it’s hard work. Business people! Enjoy your money and success! And always realise what you do must be to make this place a better one. What use is a wasteland? Your enterprise and honesty is what will get us through.

    From this entertained subscriber: Please keep writing!

    Thanks Simon

    Best wishes

  • john janicke

    more stuff..the US govt wants to know all with it’s obama marxist programs .. the more we know how to fight back the better..Keep it coming

  • Rick

    Yes…I would like more detailed explanations of how to operate annonymously.

  • john janicke

    PS..Pattaya is great !

  • Tom Rossaki

    Hi Simon, I really enjoyed you writing since you were with Doug Casey. A lot of your thoughts and advices were and are timely. It’s funny you like and appreciated my mother country (Thailand) where I was born. I guessed it’s still my country too as I am planning to live in Thailand more than in the U.S. You see I live in the Bethesda, Maryland(#1 livable city 2008) but you have to be in the top 1% to afford it. Everything is so damned expensive from property tax, sales tax, income tax, gas tax and I owned several businesses so you know these fucking governments are taking us to the cleaner. Well, I digressed. Anyway my point is I am so damned lucky(yeah after 7 years of hard work) I started a Biogreen cleansers for industrials and commercial uses in Thailand and it’s just taken off big time. Now I planned to expand it regional and global. The thing that made me happy the most is that I am accidentally and legally started a very successful business outside of the U.S. and I planned to have a legal company in Hongkong or Singapore or Labuan I am not sure yet. However, I still love America and its ideals I live here for 40 years and have many great friends most of whom are my golf budddies at the club. I also found out even at this social strata many of them are so not well informed and provincial in their social and political thinking and at the lower socio-economic ladder they are litterally ignorant. I can tell you we are in deep trouble as a country, society, economically and politically. I must tell you that I 100% supported Obama the candidate and as president still but he need to make some major change in his financial bailouts and tax issues or we are going to really in deep shit. Also I have two daughters and a brand new grandson and I am worrying about their future in america. The only thing I can do is to be so successful that I can protect them from many pitfalls that are waiting for all of us.
    Since I started reading your Sovereign Man I did not noticed you are trying to sell us anything. Are you making any money from this letters? I guessed you probably made many deals that is lucrative enough to do what you are doing. I hope to meet you one day soon for a good bottle of wine and a possible business deal. Until then be safe and have fun in Pattaya and where ever you may be. Best regards, Tom..P.S. My connections in Thailand are top notch including former PM, CEOs and such. (not including Thaksin clan they are vulgar, new money and criminal at best)

  • http://madmattsalvage.com Mike Smith

    Your information is very informative, of course I’d like more. Thanks

  • Greg

    Just do what most bigcorps do. Everything is under VPN, all hard drives must be encrypted, encrypted inter-company email and other such control mechanisms. Can’t let industrial leaks effect the company through careless misplacement of laptops.

  • Yanlin

    Yep, definately. A more in-depth article on privacy protection will be much appreciated.

  • http://na Garry

    I would like more info on protecting my privacy online and the countries where privacy is still a norm.

  • Jo

    Simon, first let me thank you for bringing us so much valuable information! And, yes, please write the article on privacy. The situation in the UK is shocking, and yet the U.S. is moving closer to that idea every day. God forbid we become such a police state! Thank you again!

  • Caroline

    As always, will look forward to any special report you put out. And, as always, thanks for all the great info!

  • clayton

    Hi Simon,

    I find Tor too slow for general use. I use an encrypted tunnel to a cheap Virtual Server I rent in another country when I want to obscure my browsing habits from the local spooks, or go around local censorship.

    This Linux-centric article on my blog describes how I do it (should also work for Mac OSX):
    One of the links I reference in the above article I believe describes how to do this the “Windows” way.


    • Nick

      Thanks Clayton for the additional info.

      Call me paranoid but I don’t entirely trust all the anonymous vpn websites out there. Who’s to say they aren’t operated by the government under the guise of “Privacy Protection”?
      If it’s open source then it’s probably OK but anything that isn’t transparent or set up by someone you trust then there is potential for your efforts to be for nothing.

  • ronnie flormata

    Hi Simon,
    Thanks for your write-up on Thialand.
    Hope you can visit also Philippines and you can best judge the situation here.
    Take care!

    Best Regards,

  • http://n/a aviva maxwell

    Thanks Simon for all your info and congrats on your successes courage knowledge and for still caring about helping the rest of us
    please send more details re spying on our phones and emails etc
    aviva maxwell

  • Austin

    Yes, would like a more detail analysis of protecting all personal communication.

  • Trevor Tye

    Hello Simon

    I have used several Spanish Internet cafes recently but I never been asked for my Passport!!

    Trevor Joy

    • lrm

      If you notice on the list he provides,Spain is #43,and Italy is #25-so,yea,spain is not quite there…I think spain is green,or maybe it is also yellow,like italy,but in any case,it makes sense that you have not been asked. that said,i’ve used cafes in the US and have never been asked. I guess difference countries use different tools to track. or not every employee enforces. The US has one advantage: it is so large and has individual states,some of which still fight for their own sovereignty-as per the ‘republic”s original intention.

  • Josh Jones

    Simon – Good article about government spying. One service I can reccommend for secure VPN is Strong VPN. Their service has been easy to use and I still love to see advertisements from Lake Tahoe while in Singapore.

    Keep up the good work and safe travels.


  • allessa garrett

    Just wanted to say thanks for all of your privacy tips and other pertinent information! More information on the tools you mention would be greatly appreciated.

    I especially want to thank you for alerting us to the privacy issues surrounding US-based email accounts and the alternatives you provided.

  • Errol

    Thanks Simon for the article on the Uk’s new law restricting privacy. Please let us no more.


  • Mariei

    Hi Simon,

    Love the website – is there anyway to get large funds across water legally without a trace? would love to see more detailed article on that.

    You rock!

  • BrillV

    What’s happening in the UK is very alarming. High Chancellor Sutler would be proud. I suppose it’s only a matter of time until the politicos try to pull a stunt like that here in the USSA.

    I appreciate hearing your insight on the privacy issue, thanks for sharing it. Obviously there’s a lot of interest from others as well.

    PS – I enjoyed your recent interview with Doug Casey about Argentina.

  • travelman

    definitely would like more info on this. Any help for keeping a way from gov’t prying is appreciated.

  • TM

    hello Simon,
    Yes, we’d love to hear more about how to protect our privacy. Thanks for doing this newsletter it is greatly appreciated.

  • Andrew

    I’d be very interested in knowing which countries still respect the privacy of citizens and visitors.


  • roger

    Keep the information coming please.


  • jaci

    Hi Simon,
    Would really like to know other countries that respect your Privacy.
    thank you,

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