I love J.D. Tuccille. That man has the instincts of a swashbuckling pirate. Here’s his latest: “Now, More Than Ever, We Need Fake ID.”*
Record number of fake ID seizures,” New York’s government boasted at the end of last year, presenting the Empire State’s residents with a (not unfamiliar) holiday-season gift of arrests and petty law enforcement. “Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that underage drinking sweeps conducted by DMV investigators in 2016 resulted in the seizure of 862 fraudulent licenses and the arrest of 818 individuals for underage drinking, both single year records.”
Great going, guv! Your intrepid investigators managed to slap cuffs on bunches of 19-year-olds for sneaking beer two years earlier than politicians would allow. How about some medals for your brave enforcers?
He goes on to talk about the scary new TSA signs warning airline passengers that if their states don’t “comply” by next year, they won’t be “allowed” to fly (as if traveling were some government-controlled privilege; oh, but nowadays it is).
But if REAL ID and other measures to give gov complete control of our identity are meant to deter fakery, J.D. goes on to point out that all they’ve done is require forgers and fakers to up their game. See his links for more detail.
Alas, the ID I bought for $50 from some offshore outfit twenty years ago would never cut it now. Seems you can now get a fake drivers license of “getting your underage self into a bar” variety for about three times that. Getting a real fake ID, complete with real-fake database entry created by an employee of the DMV will seriously cost you. But in this case, hooray for official corruption!
The other day on the Cabal, a cabalista techie linked to a TechDirt deal (the specific one will be defunct a few hours from now; but TechDirt seems to have frequent bargains of this sort): a lifetime VPN service for just $39 ($35.10 with the coupon I also snagged). I bought in and after the usual headbanging standard with software that’s only sorta-kinda set up properly for Linux, I’ve found it very easy to use.
Like the proxy I’ve been using for years, it masks my IP address. But unlike a mere proxy, a VPN is designed to encrypt the connection from portal to portal. It also covers all my browsers without me having to do any browser-specific setups.
But the question came up: How do you tell it’s really working? Yes, you can go to a site like WhatIsMyIPAddress.com and get the comforting news that you’re visiting them from an address in Thailand, Switzerland, or Brazil when you’re actually in Teaneck, NJ, Swaziland, or British Columbia. But (as you technoids already know) that’s not the complete story. There are these things called DNS links that reveal your real IP, and therefore your real location, under more sophisticated scans. I visited five or six leak-detection sites. A couple detected something — not my IP, but (I’m guessing) another IP belonging to the VPN service. One, however, pinpointed me right to my little rural area. Even showed me a map. Urk.
If you have a WebRTC leak, you can fix it. Blessedly easily. In Firefox, just install the DisableWebRTC add-on. In Chrome or Chromium, there’s the WebRTC Limiter (but be aware that you’ll have to change its settings, as the ones right “out of the box” do NOT stop IP leaks). There are other ways. But those two I know work.
Alas, figuring out if a VPN is really, truly encrypting the connection is harder. We discussed that a bit on the Cabal, too, and all I can say is so far, so good.
I was going to continue with a few thoughts on the importance of anonymity in political speech and life in general, but this has gone on longer than I anticipated. So maybe later for that.
* H/T WendyMcElroy.com