Rebuilding Communities and Identities with USB sticks and Love by AnonyOdinn

Courage

Courage

This is another thoughtful long read from our old pal Anony Odinn; it originally appeared at Cyberguerrilla. Get yourself a full cup of some stimulating beverage and get ready for a mind-expanding experience.

“Where there is preparation there is no fear.” ~ Hwang Kee (1914 – 2002, Soo Bahk Do, Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan) 황기 (당수도, 무덕관)

TranscendFear-1024x590
(Image from DavidDeGraw.org, Author of Unprecedented Abundance: Economic Reality – Peer Through the Illusion)>The material in this post is intended to help individuals and communities address the real and significant harms that are a byproduct of exponential growth of corporation-state activity, and the corresponding measurable decay of social capital.  It is well known and understood that the structure of relationships among people and organizations in a market or region can affect, or replace, information.

Further, the unhealthy centralization (example) that has been part of the ongoing evolution of the corporation-state has caused organizations of persons, flow of information (and social capital) to be both branded and concentrated.  In resisting this problematic state of affairs, people increasingly organize at the local level (often in a decentralized way) to create the ultimate resilience.

Finally, as people strive to find their own role in rapidly changing societies, they must prepare completely different tools and processes of organization to sustain themselves, and as part of this process, abandon old ways.  This requires cultivation of a mindset in which you will have largely attained freedom from fear in the context of typical judgments and condemnations (which are designed to elicit fear in the population), and where you will also need to enhance the level of comfort and support provided by local community networks to help you weather the storms as you proceed to seek out change in your community and beyond.>In the process of working through how to move forward to make technological tools for communities to take ownership of their future, one of the real failures of the software development communities, particularly in privacy oriented circles, has been the issue of complexity in what they have produced.

That which is good for helping people to protect themselves against real threats, has often been developed without an eye to what most people would consider obstacles to practical use.

With this in mind, I’ve presented here a guide to rebuilding and rebooting communities for increased independence (financial and other) from the corporation-state which is intended to be as simple as possible and, with some help from others in your community, the hope here is that these tools will provide a fully portable starting point which can be used and shared (even when you don’t have access to internet).  Everything shown here is intended to be fit onto a USB drive and run from there, to keep things as streamlined as possible.  (I’ve suggested a USB stick here, but as you’ll see, you technically can use a DVD or SD card too.  But to keep it simple, I suggest just use a USB stick.)

What you’ll need:

  • A USB stick (new is best, 4 GB minimum ~ get one with as much memory as you can find, though…)  Especially if it’s used, clean it first (how-to for Linux, Windows, Mac/OSX).
  • Computer, with at least one working USB port
  • Friend(s) in your community, those into community organization and activism
  • Access to internet (note, aspects of this project won’t require internet, but the initial steps do)
  • Access to a printer and paper

Initial Steps

  • Put Tails Live OS on your USB stick.  (How to do this, you may ask? Start here and go through all five steps.  Once you get to the fifth step, using the ‘Tails Installer’ is recommended to wrap up the installation.  (Overview – First Steps with Tails)  The Tails Live OS is designed to cause the software on the USB stick to be connected to the internet through Tor.
  • Explore some of Tails features.  These include, but are not limited to, at the time of this post, Tor and I2P anonymity networks (I2P is not enabled by default), LUKS disk-encryption specification, HTTPS Everywhere encryption extension, Claws Mail with GnuPG support, Pidgin Chat with OTR, and Electrum, a Bitcoin wallet.
  • Be aware of the limitations of Tails.

In case you had trouble with the installation step

  • If for some reason you went through the first four steps and were unable to use the ‘Tails Installer’ at the fifth step to make this work,try this section ~ note however, it doesn’t leave you with a persistent volume.  If at all possible, try again with a different device and use the ‘Tails Installer’ ~ being able to have a persistent volume will make it easier in the end for you.
  • Reasons why you should consider trying again with the ‘Tails Installer’ (benefits of being able to have a persistent volume):
  •   Having a persistent volume will allow you to store:
    • your personal files and working documents
    • the software packages that you download and install in Tails
    • the configuration of the programs you use
    • your encryption keys
    • Other such things
    • Once Tails is installed with ‘Tails Installer,’ here’s how to create and configure a persistent volume, as well as how to enable and use it for any Tails session you start, and change the passphrase you set for the persistent volume.  This page has an overview of help topics on the persistent volume.

Decentralization of Identity, Liberation of Community

Tails Live OS comes bundled with preconfigured tools such as Claws Mail with GnuPG support and Electrum (Bitcoin wallet) which can be utilized to provide a degree of independence in financial community functions from banks and governments ~ migrating away from the corporation-state model, as it were.  But what to do about the issue of how identities, generally since birth, are created, taxed, tracked, and stored in databases through the rest of our natural lives?

Having a frank discussion with friends in your community about these issues is important.  With those around you who are sincere about moving beyond discussion to action, it is hoped that the tools discussed in this post will help your community group provide a starting point for change based on technological exploration of the potential for rebooting the system right where you are, without the need to ask anyone for permission.

For adults, identity, or aspects of it, become a matter which we can choose ~ after a fashion ~ to exercise, or to reveal, or not, depending on our preferences and abilities. But due to corporation-state coercion, what is imposed from birth (in the United States as an example) as a matter of identity tracking is extreme.  Every child is tracked by the surveillance mechanisms of the corporation-state, which then uses social security numbers of the children and other information to develop taxation regimes beginning from birth, and devotes massive amounts of these ill-gotten gains to fund global warfare.  How, then, can this process be defeated, or how can more power be placed in the hands of many members of our communities so that we all can decide how our own identities will be managed, what will happen with our own financial resources, and what sort of future we want for ourselves?

Though there is no easy answer, tools do exist to help you and interested members of your community start the process of liberating yourselves from this oppressive system.  The following is one such tool.

IDMAS
IDMAS is an Identity Management System based onBIP0032; it runs in Tails Live OS.  That’s correct ~ it runs in the same operating system you installed to a USB stick in a previous step above.

A quote from IDMAS is provided below:
idmas is a free open source identity management system based on BIP0032. Starting from a master seed, idmas can create a tree of identities. Each of these identities has a profile: name, gender, age and nationality. More importantly, each of these identities has an extended private key corresponding to a node in the BIP0032 tree. Starting from this node the identity can deterministically generate passwords and bitcoin private keys and addresses. It is also easy to support other cryptocurrencies. Currently idmas can also generate litecoin and darkcoin keys and addresses.

So, this has a fully decentralized method of developing identities. Furthermore, in running IDMAS, these identities can have associated with them cryptocoin addresses (bitcoin, litecoin, and darkcoin).  This is an simple explanation of what IDMAS does.  A very short way of describing IDMAS would be to say that it provides a way in which individuals and communities can use the principle of decentralization to liberate themselves from systemic corporation-state control of identity.

Instructions:

  • Read the Readme for IDMAS – very carefully, the whole thing.
  • From the repository, download IDMAS zip file to your computer or USB stick.
  • Unzip the IDMAS file to your USB stick (the end result is you should see the files for IDMAS in the persistent volume on the USB)
  • Note: Make sure you add the idmas directory to your PATH, or give the path to the executable scripts
  • Follow Quick Start and Regular Use instructions in Readme for IDMAS.  Note that it intends for your master seed to never touch an online computer, and when you choose and use a master seed with the previewids or the idmas master command (see Readme instructions), you need to ensure your computer is disconnected from the internet and its wireless capability is turned off before you would enter those commands with your master seed.
  • Because it is unlikely that this will all come together right away ‘straight out of the box,’ you may need to play with it and experiment before you can get it all just right in a way that you are satisfied with.  The instruction section under ‘Preparing for Regular Use’ in the Readme provides helpful guidance on how to experiment with IDMAS before regularly using it.
  • Note:  The makers of IDMAS tested it with Tails 1.1 (July 22, 2014) which came with Python 2.7.3.  At the time of this post, Tails Live OS is at version 1.4.  The differences between versions should not be a problem, but  if you do have problems with IDMAS as you try to use it with Tails 1.4 (or a later version of Tails), you can file an issue via the IDMAS github.

Further guidance:
You’ll note that the IDMAS “directory” nodes are described as cold, warm and hot, and these nodes can be used to generate passwords and cryptocoin keys and addresses.  This provides a further option which can be associated with the project:  Each identity generated, which can also have generated for it cryptocoin key(s) and addresses, could also have have those addresses; these addresses can beturned into QR codes and printed on paper you have on hand, or potentially engraved onto a small wooden wallet tag.  That is to say, you could do all this computer work, some of which you’ve done offline, gather or laminate the printed addresses, store your USB sticks for some later date, and just shut down your machines.   Your communication could now technically continue based on offline use of the QR codes you’ve generated, with no technological aid except a mobile app to scan the code.

What has been done at this point, if you’ve gotten this far?  With nothing but what you have on a simple USB stick, and your printer, you have developed a basis for decentralized identity that can be used in your community, completely independent from the system imposed by the corporation-state.  Additionally, the identities and use of them are optional and can be discarded if need be, thus limiting the ability of a surveillance state to correlate and track activity with them.

In turn, this potentially may be used to help a community (small or large) organize its own system of local identification and currency, or assign cryptocoin addresses (corresponding to identities that have been generated by IDMAS) to local projects, which people can then fund and prioritize based on what individuals decide to direct their funds to locally.  (Indeed, there are now decentralized methods under development for doing just this sort of thing, such as the Lighthouse project.)  In such a situation all people would be able to organize to care for towns and villages, within a voluntary framework, and some would offer their financial resources whereas others would offer their time and physical energies.  In a “time of transition,” such a proposal is not unrealistic, and it is entirely possible to see a town government structure co-exist and cooperate with growing cryptoanarchistic communities.  As time goes on, only those communities or local structures and models which do not rely upon coercion, will be able to succeed, grow, and be viewed favorably not only locally but in the eyes of the rest of the world.

More Thoughts

There is no question about it: it is a responsibility of cryptoanarchistic folk that we must find more and better ways how to provide a deep and sustaining love and support to all forms of communities.  Such efforts must ensure that our work in the crypto realm will help us ease the ability for anyone to make voluntary distribution of financial resources to the less fortunate, which thus far has been a process that has been sadly absent from the financial system.  To accomplish this, we must first rid ourselves of our fear of it, and then conquer that limitation which has kept us from being more giving and loving creatures.

What is the process by which this might happen?  In the processes which I have emphasized, I specifically recommend avoiding (indeed, leaving behind entirely) bank-based systems, web-based wallets, and systems which facilitate corporation-state claims over financial data.  In lieu of these, wallets and systems are favored which place control squarely back in your hands and allow you to manage and control your data, be it data for a financial transaction or for any other purpose.

In previous posts I’ve suggested use of spesmilo/sx – tools [decentralized giving] which provides a framework for allowing users (and in particular, developers) to incorporate the ability to make donations directly into modern wallet technology now being developed.  I’ve remarked in my post, “Bytecoin, SX, OpenBazaar, Zerocash: Decentralizing Finance,” on the incredibly thoughtful development that Bytecoin (BCN) developers have begun to incorporate into their new wallet ~ it allows you to send to several users at once, a significant step toward realizing and developingcompassion and microgiving potential in transactions. The thought that microgiving as a voluntary and ordinary part of any transaction (much as the bees do as they bounce from flower to flower) is not only possible but is happening and is on the verge of occurring on a larger scale via peer-to-peer desktop applications, in a manner which you control (outside the boundaries of any centralized system driven by the corporation-state), is very exciting, and opens the door to a whole new and transformative model of how we can relate and connect with each other in society, which before was not possible.

Obviously, our USB sticks and software repositories are simply not enough by themselves: the real key to getting where we want to go is overcoming our fear of what may be, and opening ourselves enough to allow ourselves to love.  Only then can any tools of ours, and vaunted skills we wield, truly leave a legacy worth remembering.
hand-shake-love

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Categories: Activism, Anarchism, Anonymous, AnonyOdinn, Blockchain, Communication, Crypto, Crypto-Anarchism, File Sharing, Futurism, Hackers, Hacktivism, News, Peer-to-Peer, Philosophy, Politics, Technology

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