accessoires for the paranoid

An alternative approach to data security.

When considering data as the oil of the 21st century, each of us is sitting on a small ground treasure—a resource that is being discretely mined by the most valuable companies in the world. As users of modern services and products, we have long become habituated to trade-offs in which "free" services are offered in exchange for some bits of our personal data. The IoT has introduced a new kind of object into our homes whose functioning greatly depends on collecting such information: Products that are able to observe the users, have the ability to learn from their observations and then make their own decisions without further human interference. With the comfort of automation also comes a subtle danger in our connected devices which process personal information about their users every day. If attempts to restrict the flow of our personal data would consequentially restrict our access to said services and products as well... do we have no other option but to obey and share?

 

The "Accessories for the Paranoid" explore an alternative approach to data security. As our physical environment reads, collects and stores an increasing amount of user information, this series of parasitic objects are designed to produce fake data. Through blurring our digital profiles, our true data identities get to hide behind a veil of fictive information.

Object A: un-hacking webcams

 

Anyone with a little sticker on the top center of his laptop is aware that hacking a webcam is not hard, neither for NSA nor the nerd next door. Object A takes the principle of a toy camera and applies it to data security by displaying different scenes through the glance of the webcam.

Object B: kidding Alexa

 

The Echo, Amazon's voice assistant for the connected home, reacts to the call of „Alexa". Thus having to listen at all times, she observes, processes and collects data in her user's home whenever switched on. Object B will prevent your sensitive information to hit the wrong set of ears. The sound device allows to numb her when the situation calls for it or confuses Alexa's algorithm with fake information. It quietly contributes to the creation of the user's online identity with thought-up personal interests and inquiries.

Object B offers the choice between three modes to play over the earphone: 1. white noise that lets no information slip through; 2. pre-recorded quests to occupy her with tasks far from the user's actual interests; and 3. dialogues from random movie scenes that have her collect fake information about her user and their shared surroundings.

Object C: leaving fault traces

 

Connected to any computer, Object C will generate fake online data. On the push of the button, an algorithm will randomly create site-specific content on the websites of services such as google, facebook, youtube, twitter or Amazon.

 

Concentrating on the individualities that are specific to the service, the libraries in the code will be unpredictably influenced by changing content.

At the push of its button, Object C will open the browser and access a popular service to leave fault digital traces: The wish-list on Amazon will be filled with unexpected interests. A post on twitter will be completed through random emojis replacing keywords. The Facebook account will spread indefinite likes. On google search, partially typed requests will be continued through the google auto-completion.

Object D: blurring USE patterns

 

As a parasite to any connected device that is able to collect data, Object D will push their buttons randomly if activated, thus creating blurred user patterns during night time or when not actually home.

Köln, 2017

 

Produced in polysterol, programmed with arduino and processing, realized through several microcontrollers and electronic actors.

 

Thank you for this great collaboration to the amazing Katja Trinkwalder!

 

The video uses and samples the track "The Code of My Heart" by the talented Gurdonark, licensed under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/.

 

exhibited at:

KISDparcours2017, Köln

© Pia-Marie Stute 2018  |  Thanks for your visit!