This mobile phone was used to call the personal number of William Binney, the NSA whistleblower. It is now also under direct surveillance by intelligence agencies. Call this phone from your own device to add yourself to Binney's social graph.
Why should you do that, you will ask. It’s true, you’ll be associated with Binney. But what’s at stake here is something a lot more important than the potential ramifications of a data trail. Do you really want to live a life where you shy away from completely normal, legal things, like calling a mobile phone? Here’s an opportunity not to be cowed by mass surveillance.
The Hop 3 project was commissioned by ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe on the occasion of the exhibition Global Control and Censorship, and is now part of the collection of ZKM. It will from 2017 to 2019 be included in a show touring through a series of Eastern European art institutions, beginning with Tallinn Art Hall, Estonia and Nová Synagóga Žilina in Slovakia.
The Cologne part of the project included 200 advertising columns throughout the city and was made possible with support from the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, the Kulturamt of the City of Cologne and Fa. Ströer.
Design: Studio Frith, London
Concept and idea: Christian Sievers
References/ further reading:
"So all of your friends, that's one hop. Your friends' friends, whether you know them or not — two hops. Your friends' friends' friends, whoever they happen to be, are that third hop. That's a massive group of people that the NSA apparently considers fair game."
Philip Bump: The NSA Admits It Analyzes More People's Data Than Previously Revealed.
This is an art project that (among other things) posits the question whether trying to hide as a reaction to mass surveillance isn't playing into the hands of those responsible for it. These problems need to be addressed at a political level, and this can only happen if people are not scared to speak out personally.
Nevertheless, it is a good idea to have an understanding of how mass surveillance by government and corporate actors works, and how to avoid being adversely affected by it.
As an example, the threat of adverse scoring by rating agencies is very real. If you want to avert your browsing habits affecting the costs of your health insurance, you might want to research certain health problems only via Tor. Further information on how to find the right balance between getting things done and securing what is necessary can be found on the EFF's Surveillance Self-Defence pages. CryptoParties are a good practical and playful way to learn how to retain a bit of sovereignty over one's own data.