These highlights are from the Kindle version of Permanent Record by Edward Snowden.
Deep in a tunnel under a pineapple field—a subterranean Pearl Harbor–era former airplane factory—I sat at a terminal from which I had practically unlimited access to the communications of nearly every man, woman, and child on earth who’d ever dialed a phone or touched a computer. Among those people were about 320 million of my fellow American citizens, who in the regular conduct of their everyday lives were being surveilled in gross contravention of not just the Constitution of the United States, but the basic values of any free society.
Just as I refuse to presume to be the sole arbiter of another’s privacy, I never thought that I alone should be able to choose which of my country’s secrets should be made known to the public and which should not. That is why I disclosed the government’s documents only to journalists. In fact, the number of documents that I disclosed directly to the public is zero.
My generation was the last in American and perhaps even in world history for which this is true—the last undigitized generation, whose childhoods aren’t up on the cloud but are mostly trapped in analog formats like handwritten diaries and Polaroids and VHS cassettes, tangible and imperfect artifacts that degrade with age and can be lost irretrievably. My schoolwork was done on paper with pencils and erasers, not on networked tablets that logged my keystrokes. My growth spurts weren’t tracked by smart-home technologies, but notched with a knife into the wood of the door frame of the house in which I grew up.
My family has always been connected to the sea, my mother’s side in particular. Her heritage is straight Pilgrim—her first ancestor on these shores was John Alden, the Mayflower’s cooper, or barrelmaker. He became the husband of a fellow passenger named Priscilla Mullins, who had the dubious distinction of being the only single woman of marriageable age onboard, and so the only single woman of marriageable age in the whole first generation of the Plymouth Colony.
Perhaps it’s best, then, for readers not raised in this milieu to imagine Fort Meade and its environs, if not the entire Beltway, as one enormous boom-or-bust company town. It is a place whose monoculture has much in common with, say, Silicon Valley’s, except that the Beltway’s product isn’t technology but government itself.
Internet access, and the emergence of the Web, was my generation’s big bang or Precambrian explosion. It irrevocably altered the course of my life, as it did the lives of everyone. From the age of twelve or so, I tried to spend my every waking moment online. Whenever I couldn’t, I was busy planning my next session. The Internet was my sanctuary; the Web became my jungle gym, my treehouse, my fortress, my classroom without walls.
In the 1990s, the Internet had yet to fall victim to the greatest iniquity in digital history: the move by both government and businesses to link, as intimately as possible, users’ online personas to their offline legal identity.
To grow up is to realize the extent to which your existence has been governed by systems of rules, vague guidelines, and increasingly unsupportable norms that have been imposed on you without your consent and are subject to change at a moment’s notice.
I realized that any opposition to this system would be difficult, not least because getting its rules changed to serve the interests of the majority would involve persuading the rule makers to put themselves at a purposeful disadvantage. That, ultimately, is the critical flaw or design defect intentionally integrated into every system, in both politics and computing: the people who create the rules have no incentive to act against themselves.
What convinced me that school, at least, was an illegitimate system was that it wouldn’t recognize any legitimate dissent. I could plead my case until I lost my voice, or I could just accept the fact that I’d never had a voice to begin with.
The benevolent tyranny of school, like all tyrannies, has a limited shelf life. At a certain point, the denial of agency becomes a license to resist, though it’s characteristic of adolescence to confuse resistance with escapism or even violence. The most common outlets for a rebellious teen were useless to me, because I was too cool for vandalism and not cool enough for drugs. (To this day, I’ve never even gotten drunk on liquor or smoked a cigarette.) Instead, I started hacking—which remains the sanest, healthiest, and most educational way I know for kids to assert autonomy and address adults on equal terms.
Humans are hardwired to recognize patterns. All the choices we make are informed by a cache of assumptions, both empirical and logical, unconsciously derived and consciously developed. We use these assumptions to assess the potential consequences of each choice, and we describe the ability to do all of this, quickly and accurately, as intelligence. But even the smartest among us rely on assumptions that we’ve never put to the test—and because we do, the choices we make are often flawed. Anyone who knows better, or thinks more quickly and more accurately than we do, can take advantage of those flaws to create consequences that we never expected.
The Internet gave me the chance to pursue all the topics I was interested in, and all the links between them, unconstrained by the pace of my classmates and my teachers. The more time I spent online, however, the more my schoolwork felt extracurricular.
You should always let people underestimate you.
I’ve had friends tell me that you aren’t really an adult until you bury a parent or become one yourself. But what no one ever mentions is that for kids of a certain age, divorce is like both of those happening simultaneously. Suddenly, the invulnerable icons of your childhood are gone. In their stead, if there’s anyone at all, is a person even more lost than you are, full of tears and rage, who craves your reassurance that everything will turn out okay. It won’t, though, at least not for a while.
The Intelligence Community tries to inculcate in its workers a baseline anonymity, a sort of blank-page personality upon which to inscribe secrecy and the art of imposture. You train yourself to be inconspicuous, to look and sound like others. You live in the most ordinary house, you drive the most ordinary car, you wear the same ordinary clothes as everyone else. The difference is, you do it on purpose: normalcy, the ordinary, is your cover. This is the perverse reward of a self-denying career that brings no public glory: the private glory comes not during work, but after, when you can go back out among other people again and successfully convince them that you’re one of them.
Though there are a score of more popular and surely more accurate psychological terms for this type of identity split, I tend to think of it as human encryption. As in any process of encryption, the original material—your core identity—still exists, but only in a locked and scrambled form. The equation that enables this ciphering is a simple proportion: the more you know about others, the less you know about yourself. After a time, you might forget your likes and even your dislikes. You can lose your politics, along with any and all respect for the political process that you might have had. Everything gets subsumed by the job, which begins with a denial of character and ends with a denial of conscience. “Mission First.”
For as long as I live, I’ll remember retracing my way up Canine Road—the road past the NSA’s headquarters—after the Pentagon was attacked. Madness poured out of the agency’s black glass towers, a tide of yelling, ringing cell phones, and cars revving up in the parking lots and fighting their way onto the street. At the moment of the worst terrorist attack in American history, the staff of the NSA—the major signals intelligence agency of the American IC—was abandoning its work by the thousands, and I was swept up in the flood.
The two decades since 9/11 have been a litany of American destruction by way of American self-destruction, with the promulgation of secret policies, secret laws, secret courts, and secret wars, whose traumatizing impact—whose very existence—the US government has repeatedly classified, denied, disclaimed, and distorted.
The work of American Intelligence is done as frequently by private employees as it is by government servants.
From the vantage of the corporate boardroom, contracting functions as governmentally assisted corruption. It’s America’s most legal and convenient method of transferring public money to the private purse.
For the record, as far as I could tell, aliens have never contacted Earth, or at least they haven’t contacted US intelligence. But al-Qaeda did maintain unusually close ties with our allies the Saudis, a fact that the Bush White House worked suspiciously hard to suppress as we went to war with two other countries.
In the Intelligence Community, the “Frankenstein effect” is widely cited, though the more popular military term for it is “blowback”: situations in which policy decisions intended to advance American interests end up harming them irreparably. Prominent examples of the “Frankenstein effect” cited by after-the-fact civilian, governmental, military, and even IC assessments have included America’s funding and training of the mujahideen to fight the Soviets, which resulted in the radicalization of Osama bin Laden and the founding of al-Qaeda, as well as the de-Baathification of the Saddam Hussein–era Iraqi military, which resulted in the rise of the Islamic state.
With the Tor protocol, your traffic is distributed and bounced around through randomly generated pathways from Tor server to Tor server, with the purpose being to replace your identity as the source of a communication with that of the last Tor server in the constantly shifting chain. Virtually none of the Tor servers, which are called “layers,” know the identity of, or any identifying information about, the origin of the traffic. And in a true stroke of genius, the one Tor server that does know the origin—the very first server in the chain—does not know where that traffic is headed. Put more simply: the first Tor server that connects you to the Tor network, called a gateway, knows you’re the one sending a request, but because it isn’t allowed to read that request, it has no idea whether you’re looking for pet memes or information about a protest, and the final Tor server that your request passes through, called an exit, knows exactly what’s being asked for, but has no idea who’s asking for it.
For me personally, Tor was a life changer, bringing me back to the Internet of my childhood by giving me just the slightest taste of freedom from being observed.
Here was everything that was missing from the unclassified version. Here was everything that the journalism I’d read had lacked, and that the court proceedings I’d followed had been denied: a complete accounting of the NSA’s most secret surveillance programs, and the agency directives and Department of Justice policies that had been used to subvert American law and contravene the US Constitution. After reading the thing, I could understand why no IC employee had ever leaked it to journalists, and no judge would be able to force the government to produce it in open court. The document was so deeply classified that anybody who had access to it who wasn’t a sysadmin would be immediately identifiable. And the activities it outlined were so deeply criminal that no government would ever allow it to be released unredacted.
One issue jumped out at me immediately: it was clear that the unclassified version I was already familiar with wasn’t a redaction of the classified version, as would usually be the practice. Rather, it was a wholly different document, which the classified version immediately exposed as an outright and carefully concocted lie.
STELLARWIND was the classified report’s deepest secret. It was, in fact, the NSA’s deepest secret, and the one that the report’s sensitive status had been designed to protect. The program’s very existence was an indication that the agency’s mission had been transformed, from using technology to defend America to using technology to control it by redefining citizens’ private Internet communications as potential signals intelligence.
According to the report, it was the government’s position that the NSA could collect whatever communications records it wanted to, without having to get a warrant, because it could only be said to have acquired or obtained them, in the legal sense, if and when the agency “searched for and retrieved” them from its database.
This lexical sophistry was particularly galling to me, as I was well aware that the agency’s goal was to be able to retain as much data as it could for as long as it could—for perpetuity. If communications records would only be considered definitively “obtained” once they were used, they could remain “unobtained” but collected in storage forever, raw data awaiting its future manipulation. By redefining the terms “acquire” and “obtain”—from describing the act of data being entered into a database, to describing the act of a person (or, more likely, an algorithm) querying that database and getting a “hit” or “return” at any conceivable point in the future—the US government was developing the capacity of an eternal law-enforcement agency. At any time, the government could dig through the past communications of anyone it wanted to victimize in search of a crime (and everybody’s communications contain evidence of something).
One major irony here is that law, which always lags behind technological innovation by at least a generation, gives substantially more protections to a communication’s content than to its metadata—and yet intelligence agencies are far more interested in the metadata—the activity records that allow them both the “big picture” ability to analyze data at scale, and the “little picture” ability to make perfect maps, chronologies, and associative synopses of an individual person’s life, from which they presume to extrapolate predictions of behavior. In sum, metadata can tell your surveillant virtually everything they’d ever want or need to know about you, except what’s actually going on inside your head.
Japan was my atomic moment. It was then that I realized where these new technologies were headed, and that if my generation didn’t intervene the escalation would only continue. It would be a tragedy if, by the time we’d finally resolved to resist, such resistance were futile. The generations to come would have to get used to a world in which surveillance wasn’t something occasional and directed in legally justified circumstances, but a constant and indiscriminate presence: the ear that always hears, the eye that always sees, a memory that is sleepless and permanent.
The data we generate just by living—or just by letting ourselves be surveilled while living—would enrich private enterprise and impoverish our private existence in equal measure. If government surveillance was having the effect of turning the citizen into a subject, at the mercy of state power, then corporate surveillance was turning the consumer into a product, which corporations sold to other corporations, data brokers, and advertisers.
The previous ten years had been a cavalcade of American-made tragedy: the forever war in Afghanistan, catastrophic regime change in Iraq, indefinite detentions at Guantánamo Bay, extraordinary renditions, torture, targeted killings of civilians—even of American civilians—via drone strikes. Domestically, there was the Homeland Securitization of everything, which assigned a threat rating to every waking day (Red–Severe, Orange–High, Yellow–Elevated), and, from the Patriot Act on, the steady erosion of civil liberties, the very liberties we were allegedly fighting to protect. The cumulative damage—the malfeasance in aggregate—was staggering to contemplate and felt entirely irreversible, and yet we were still honking our horns and flashing our lights in jubilation.
Like EPICSHELTER, my automated readboard platform was designed to perpetually scan for new and unique documents. It did so in a far more comprehensive manner, however, peering beyond NSAnet, the NSA’s network, into the networks of the CIA and the FBI as well as into the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS), the Department of Defense’s top-secret intranet. The idea was that its findings would be made available to every NSA officer by comparing their digital identity badges—called PKI certificates—to the classification of the documents, generating a personal readboard customized to their clearances, interests, and office affiliations. Essentially, it would be a readboard of readboards, an individually tailored newsfeed aggregator, bringing each officer all the newest information pertinent to their work, all the documents they had to read to stay current.
I called this system Heartbeat, because it took the pulse of the NSA and of the wider IC. The volume of information that crashed through its veins was simply enormous, as it pulled documents from internal sites dedicated to every specialty from updates on the latest cryptographic research projects to minutes of the meetings of the National Security Council.
Nearly all of the documents that I later disclosed to journalists came to me through Heartbeat. It showed me not just the aims but the abilities of the IC’s mass surveillance system.
PRISM enabled the NSA to routinely collect data from Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google, Facebook, Paltalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL, and Apple, including email, photos, video and audio chats, Web-browsing content, search engine queries, and all other data stored on their clouds, transforming the companies into witting coconspirators.
Imagine yourself sitting at a computer, about to visit a website. You open a Web browser, type in a URL, and hit Enter. The URL is, in effect, a request, and this request goes out in search of its destination server. Somewhere in the midst of its travels, however, before your request gets to that server, it will have to pass through TURBULENCE, one of the NSA’s most powerful weapons.
Specifically, your request passes through a few black servers stacked on top of one another, together about the size of a four-shelf bookcase. These are installed in special rooms at major private telecommunications buildings throughout allied countries, as well as in US embassies and on US military bases, and contain two critical tools. The first, TURMOIL, handles “passive collection,” making a copy of the data coming through. The second, TURBINE, is in charge of “active collection”—that is, actively tampering with the users.
If TURMOIL flags your traffic as suspicious, it tips it over to TURBINE, which diverts your request to the NSA’s servers. There, algorithms decide which of the agency’s exploits—malware programs—to use against you. This choice is based on the type of website you’re trying to visit as much as on your computer’s software and Internet connection.
Once the exploits are on your computer, the NSA can access not just your metadata, but your data as well. Your entire digital life now belongs to them.
The NSA’s surveillance programs, its domestic surveillance programs in particular, flouted the Fourth Amendment completely. The agency was essentially making a claim that the amendment’s protections didn’t apply to modern-day lives. The agency’s internal policies neither regarded your data as your legally protected personal property, nor regarded their collection of that data as a “search” or “seizure.” Instead, the NSA maintained that because you had already “shared” your phone records with a “third party”—your telephone service provider—you had forfeited any constitutional privacy interest you may once have had. And it insisted that “search” and “seizure” occurred only when its analysts, not its algorithms, actively queried what had already been automatically collected.
When rare public hearings on the IC were held, the NSA’s position was made strikingly clear: The agency would not cooperate, it would not be honest, and, what was worse, through classification and claims of secrecy it would force America’s federal legislatures to collaborate in its deception. In early 2013, for instance, James Clapper, then the director of National Intelligence, testified under oath to the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the NSA did not engage in bulk collection of the communications of American citizens. To the question, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper replied, “No, sir,” and then added, “There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.” That was a witting, bald-faced lie, of course, not just to Congress but to the American people.
In organizations like the NSA—in which malfeasance has become so structural as to be a matter not of any particular initiative, but of an ideology—proper channels can only become a trap, to catch the heretics and disfavorables.
Today, “leaking” and “whistleblowing” are often treated as interchangeable. But to my mind, the term “leaking” should be used differently than it commonly is. It should be used to describe acts of disclosure done not out of public interest but out of self-interest, or in pursuit of institutional or political aims. To be more precise, I understand a leak as something closer to a “plant,” or an incidence of “propaganda-seeding”: the selective release of protected information in order to sway popular opinion or affect the course of decision making.
All the information I intended to disclose was classified top secret. To blow the whistle on secret programs, I’d also have to blow the whistle on the larger system of secrecy, to expose it not as the absolute prerogative of state that the IC claimed it was but rather as an occasional privilege that the IC abused to subvert democratic oversight. Without bringing to light the full scope of this systemic secrecy, there would be no hope of restoring a balance of power between citizens and their governance. This motive of restoration I take to be essential to whistleblowing: it marks the disclosure not as a radical act of dissent or resistance, but a conventional act of return—signaling the ship to return back to port, where it’ll be stripped, refitted, and patched of its leaks before being given the chance to start over.
My fellow technologists came in every day and sat at their terminals and furthered the work of the state. They weren’t merely oblivious to its abuses, but incurious about them, and that lack of curiosity made them not evil but tragic. It didn’t matter whether they’d come to the IC out of patriotism or opportunism: once they’d gotten inside the machine, they became machines themselves.
I decided to use somebody else’s Internet connection. I wish that were simply a matter of going to a McDonald’s or Starbucks and signing on to their Wi-Fi. But those places have CCTV, and receipts, and other people—memories with legs. Moreover, every wireless device, from a phone to a laptop, has a globally unique identifier called a MAC (Machine Address Code), which it leaves on record with every access point it connects to—a forensic marker of its user’s movements.
I went war-driving, which is when you convert your car into a roving Wi-Fi sensor. For this you need a laptop, a high-powered antenna, and a magnetic GPS sensor, which can be slapped atop the roof. Power is provided by the car or by a portable battery, or else by the laptop itself. Everything you need can fit into a backpack. I took along a cheap laptop running TAILS, which is a Linux-based “amnesiac” operating system—meaning it forgets everything when you turn it off, and starts fresh when you boot it up again, with no logs or memory traces of anything ever done on it. TAILS allowed me to easily “spoof,” or disguise, the laptop’s MAC: whenever it connected to a network it left behind the record of some other machine, in no way associable with mine.
Some of the networks required more sophisticated hacking. I’d briefly jam a network, causing its legitimate users to be booted off-line; in their attempt to reconnect, they’d automatically rebroadcast their “authentication packets,” which I could intercept and effectively decipher into passwords that would let me log on just like any other “authorized” user.
A little bit of math can accomplish what all the guns and barbed wire can’t: a little bit of math can keep a secret.
Deletion is just a ruse, a figment, a public fiction, a not-quite-noble lie that computing tells you to reassure you and give you comfort. Although the deleted file disappears from view, it is rarely gone. In technical terms, deletion is really just a form of the middle permission, a kind of Write. Normally, when you press Delete for one of your files, its data—which has been stashed deep down on a disk somewhere—is not actually touched. Efficient modern operating systems are not designed to go all the way into the bowels of a disk purely for the purposes of erasure. Instead, only the computer’s map of where each file is stored—a map called the “file table”—is rewritten to say “I’m no longer using this space for anything important.” What this means is that, like a neglected book in a vast library, the supposedly erased file can still be read by anyone who looks hard enough for it. If you only erase the reference to it, the book itself still remains.
The waning days of 2012 brought grim news: the few remaining legal protections that prohibited mass surveillance by some of the most prominent members of the Five Eyes network were being dismantled. The governments of both Australia and the UK were proposing legislation for the mandatory recording of telephony and Internet metadata. This was the first time that notionally democratic governments publicly avowed the ambition to establish a sort of surveillance time machine, which would enable them to technologically rewind the events of any person’s life for a period going back months and even years. These attempts definitively marked, to my mind at least, the so-called Western world’s transformation from the creator and defender of the free Internet to its opponent and prospective destroyer.
If we presume that an attacker takes one day to crack a 64-bit key—which scrambles your data in one of 264 possible ways (18,446,744,073,709,551,616 unique permutations)—then it would take double that amount of time, two days, to break a 65-bit key, and four days to break a 66-bit key. Breaking a 128-bit key would take 264 times longer than a day, or fifty million billion years. By that time, I might even be pardoned. In my communications with journalists, I used 4096- and 8192-bit keys.
My ultimate destination, I knew, was the exact point of this interface—the exact point where the state cast its eye on the human and the human remained unaware. The program that enabled this access was called XKEYSCORE, which is perhaps best understood as a search engine that lets an analyst search through all the records of your life. Imagine a kind of Google that instead of showing pages from the public Internet returns results from your private email, your private chats, your private files, everything. Though I’d read enough about the program to understand how it worked, I hadn’t yet used it, and I realized I ought to know more about it. By pursuing XKEYSCORE, I was looking for a personal confirmation of the depths of the NSA’s surveillance intrusions—the kind of confirmation you don’t get from documents but only from direct experience.
The NSA described XKEYSCORE, in the documents I’d later pass on to journalists, as its “widest-ranging” tool, used to search “nearly everything a user does on the Internet.” The technical specs I studied went into more detail as to how exactly this was accomplished—by “packetizing” and “sessionizing,” or cutting up the data of a user’s online sessions into manageable packets for analysis—but nothing could prepare me for seeing it in action.
I didn’t type the names of the agency director or the president into XKEYSCORE, but after enough time with the system I realized I could have. Everyone’s communications were in the system—everyone’s.
One thing you come to understand very quickly while using XKEYSCORE is that nearly everyone in the world who’s online has at least two things in common: they have all watched porn at one time or another, and they all store photos and videos of their family. This was true for virtually everyone of every gender, ethnicity, race, and age—from the meanest terrorist to the nicest senior citizen, who might be the meanest terrorist’s grandparent, or parent, or cousin.
If I’d made preexisting arrangements to fly to a specific country and seek asylum, for example, I would’ve been called a foreign agent of that country. Meanwhile, if I returned to my own country, the best I could hope for was to be arrested upon landing and charged under the Espionage Act. That would’ve entitled me to a show trial deprived of any meaningful defense, a sham in which all discussion of the most important facts would be forbidden.
The only thing my government would have to prove in court is that I disclosed classified information to journalists, a fact that is not in dispute. This is why anyone who says I have to come back to the States for trial is essentially saying I have to come back to the States for sentencing, and the sentence would, now as then, surely be a cruel one. The penalty for disclosing top secret documents, whether to foreign spies or domestic journalists, is up to ten years per document.
All of these people, whether they faced prison or not, encountered some sort of backlash, most often severe and derived from the very abuse that I’d just helped expose: surveillance. If ever they’d expressed anger in a private communication, they were “disgruntled.” If they’d ever visited a psychiatrist or a psychologist, or just checked out books on related subjects from a library, they were “mentally unsound.” If they’d been drunk even once, they were said to be alcoholics. If they’d had even one extramarital affair, they were said to be sexual deviants. Not a few lost their homes and were bankrupted. It’s easier for an institution to tarnish a reputation than to substantively engage with principled dissent—for the IC, it’s just a matter of consulting the files, amplifying the available evidence, and, where no evidence exists, simply fabricating it.
With my government having decided to charge me under the Espionage Act, I stood accused of a political crime, meaning a crime whose victim is the state itself rather than a person. Under international humanitarian law, those accused in this way are generally exempt from extradition, because the charge of political criminality is more often than not an authoritarian attempt at quashing legitimate dissent. In theory, this means that government whistleblowers should be protected against extradition almost everywhere. In practice, of course, this is rarely the case, especially when the government that perceives itself wronged is America’s—which claims to foster democracy abroad yet secretly maintains fleets of privately contracted aircraft dedicated to that form of unlawful extradition known as rendition, or, as everyone else calls it, kidnapping.
As Hemingway once wrote, the way to make people trustworthy is to trust them.
Once America’s spy agencies had proven to themselves that it was possible to passively collect all of your communications, they started actively tampering with them, too. By poisoning the messages that were headed your way with snippets of attack code, or “exploits,” they developed the ability to gain possession of more than just your words. Now they were capable of winning total control of your whole device, including its camera and microphone. Which means that if you’re reading this now—this sentence—on any sort of modern machine, like a smartphone or tablet, they can follow along and read you.
The year 2016 was a landmark in tech history, the first year since the invention of the Internet that more Web traffic was encrypted than unencrypted.
Every nation has its own legal code but the same computer code. Technology crosses borders and carries almost every passport. As the years go by, it has become increasingly apparent to me that legislatively reforming the surveillance regime of the country of my birth won’t necessarily help a journalist or dissident in the country of my exile, but an encrypted smartphone might.
Any elected government that relies on surveillance to maintain control of a citizenry that regards surveillance as anathema to democracy has effectively ceased to be a democracy.
Whenever I go outside, I try to change my appearance a bit. Maybe I get rid of my beard, maybe I wear different glasses. I never liked the cold until I realized that a hat and scarf provide the world’s most convenient and inconspicuous anonymity. I change the rhythm and pace of my walk, and, contrary to the sage advice of my mother, I look away from traffic when crossing the street, which is why I’ve never been caught on any of the car dashcams that are ubiquitous here. Passing buildings equipped with CCTV I keep my head down, so that no one will see me as I’m usually seen online—head-on.