Wallet Guards to Digital Masks: Top Privacy Tech

There's no denying that privacy in the 21st century just isn't what it used to be. The use of surveillance cameras, global positioning systems and radio frequency tracking are all widespread in many parts of the world. And while some people don't seem to mind that government agencies and private companies are constantly tracking and collecting people's personal information, this new reality troubles others. <br><br> If you belong to the latter group, you might be glad to hear that a number of products on the market can help you maintain your privacy in the face of Big Brother. So throw out that tinfoil hat and get yourself some serious anti-surveillance gear. Here are a few pieces to get you started:

What's in your wallet?

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags are everywhere. You might even be wearing one right now. Commonly used as anti-theft tags stitched into merchandise or as tracking devices implanted in wayward pets, RFID tags allow anyone close to the tag who has the right kind of scanner to gain access to an individual's private information. <br><br> This may be of particular concern to those who use RFID-enabled credit cards, as well as anyone with an RFID-enabled passport, like those issued after 2006 in the United States. <br><br> Luckily, discreet individuals have <a href="http://difrwear.com/collections/all ">a lot of options </a> for protecting their credit card and passport information from RFID hackers. For instance, <a href="http://www.technewsdaily.com/4245-kick-top-10-gadgets-kickstarter.html ">RFID-blocking wallets </a> contain a layer of wire or mesh that deflects radio waves to keep your information safe from unsavory characters. <br><br> If you're having trouble finding an RFID-blocking wallet that's as stylish as you are, then check out<a href="http://www.saddlebackleather.com/Classic-Wallet-Passport?sc=8&category=87">Saddleback Leather's</a> classic take on this modern piece of gear. Or, if you're a do-it-yourselfer, then retrieve the aforementioned tin foil hat from the trashcan, and<a href=" http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-RFID-Shielding-Pouch-Out-of-Trash/"> make your own RFID-deflecting wallet</a>.

Put the brakes on red-light cameras

Municipalities across the United States are opting for technology that allows them to monitor more traffic violations, without hiring new personnel. This explains the proliferation of <a href=" http://www.technewsdaily.com/7443-traffic-surveillance-privacy.html">red-light cameras</a> on your daily commute. <br><br> Even for those who don't make a habit of running red lights, the presence of cameras on every street corner can seem a bit like a scene from an Orwellian nightmare. Luckily, one device on the market allows drivers to circumvent those cleverly placed cameras. <br><br> The <a href=" http://www.nophoto.com/">noPhoto</a>, a rear license-plate frame like no other, detects the flash from traffic cameras and fires its own flash right back at them to overexpose the image of your car running through that (almost)-red light. No clear picture of your plates means no ticket in the mail. Invasive technology thwarted again.

Now you see me ... now you don’t

Facial recognition software is nothing new. Sites like Facebook use it as part of their "<a href=" http://www.technewsdaily.com/7108-facebook-creates-clearer-privacy-settings.html"> Tag Suggest </a>" feature for photo sharing. The FBI uses it to match photos taken by surveillance cameras to mug shots of criminals stored in the <a href=" http://www.technewsdaily.com/7108-facebook-creates-clearer-privacy-settings.html"> agency's vast database </a>. Some retailers even use<a href=" http://www.almax-italy.com/pdf/progettispeciali/en-US/eye_see_manneqin.pdf"> facial recognition devices inside of mannequins</a> to track customer demographics and shopping habits. <br><br> What is new, however, are these admittedly geeky, but highly effective<a href=" http://www.technewsdaily.com/16497-privacy-visor-facial-recognition.html"> privacy goggles</a>, designed by researchers in Japan. The goggles confuse facial recognition software by emitting near-infrared lights, which limit a computer's perception of the wearer but don't affect the wearer's vision. While the product is not yet commercially available, its developers anticipate that this type of technology will soon become popular with privacy-hungry consumers. <br><br> If you don't think you can pull off the safety goggles look, or if you'd rather use something with a little more coverage and a little less circuitry, there's always this balaclava style mask, the “Pixelhead." Designed by German artist Martin Backes, it promises an extra layer of security for the digital age.

Outerwear for the dystopian future

When Adam Harvey, New York-based artist and counter-surveillance extraordinaire, first created his <a href=" http://www.technewsdaily.com/17195-stealth-wear-clothing-line-hides-you-from-drones.html">"stealth wear" collection</a>, it was more to spark a dialogue than to make money. But people really seemed to want to buy Harvey's anti-drone hoodies, scarves and burqas, and so they're for sale now via<a href=" http://shop.primitivelondon.co.uk/"> Primitive London's online shop</a>. <br><br> The clothing line is made using what Harvey calls "highly metallized" fibers that reflect heat, rendering the wearer invisible to thermal-imaging technologies, such as those used by U.S. military drones. <br><br> Harvey has also gained notoriety with the tech set in recent months for his anti-tracking cellphone case, the<a href=" http://www.primitivelondon.co.uk/exhibition-adam-harvey-stealth-wear-new-designs-for-counter-surveillance-presented-by-primitive-london-and-tank-magazine/off-pocket-temp/"> Off Pocket</a>, which uses metallic materials in conjunction with traditional textiles to block all incoming and outgoing signals.

The "Everyman" suit

This next piece of anti-surveillance tech is still in its infancy, but if it ever becomes commercially available, it'll be a boon for privacy-seekers everywhere. The "scramble suit" is based on<a href=" http://www.technewsdaily.com/5609-hunger-games-technologies-progress.html"> fictional technology</a> from Philip K. Dick's sci-fi novel, "A Scanner Darkly." <br><br> Dick described the scramble suit as a <a href=" http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/content.asp?Bnum=997">"shroud-like membrane</a>" onto which every conceivable eye color, hair color and facial feature is projected. The wearer of the suit was "Everyman," in every combination, rendering any description of him or her useless. <br><br> Kyle McDonald, a media artist in Brooklyn, N.Y., decided to build his own, <a href=" http://vimeo.com/29391633">digital version of a scramble suit</a> in 2011. McDonald's face-substitution coding makes it possible for users to disguise their identities while using video software in real time. It's only a matter of time before the programming becomes commercially available for those wishing to save face while broadcasting their YouTube rants.

Wallet Guards to Digital Masks: Top Privacy Tech