Blip Enhance For The Internet

I keep thinking back to this comment left on AVC by Mike Nolan a few weeks ago:

How about Blip Enhance – a small piece of code that continuously sends false privacy data to Google…

Early naval combat in the post RADAR world took two approaches.
Minimize your return signal to the enemy, or exaggerate it. The first
proved to be a fool’s errand – as each side gets better at trying to
remain invisible, the other side gets better at detecting your

The second technology used to defeat enemy radar was to return a
bigger radar signature to the enemy…Blip Enhance – fool the enemy
radar into thinking you were much larger, and much more complex than you
really were.

Someone should release Blip Enhance technology for everyone on
the internet. Imagine everyone’s browsing history containing thousands
of random sessions. Cookies indicating a million online purchases. Tens
of thousands of Facebook posts, tweets and relationships.

In the confusion, no data can be trusted.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    I agree totally. I’m still not sure what value I get by having other sites know so much about me or my browsing habits. The only real benefits is not having to re-enter user sign-on credentials, but it ends there.This would decimate the ad re-targeting industry.

  2. Chris O'Donnell

    I made the joke on Twitter a couple of days ago that everybody on the internet should tweet something vaguely threatening once per day, send an emailing using the world jihad once per day, and text something suspicious once per day.

  3. William Mougayar

    How about the geo-location aware Apps that know your where you are and show you related stuff while mobile (Foursquare comes to mind). Should we also fool them in believing we’re in Berlin when we’re in Boston?

  4. awaldstein

    More noise as the only strategy to keep personal data private.There has got to be a better way.

    1. Cam MacRae

      Noise generation is nontrivial. Done poorly it’s just running a highlighter over the good stuff.

      1. awaldstein

        Agree…I’m pretty good and spend a lot of time parsing the noise, creating contextual environments to find the right people and the right information.The idea of turning up the volume of junk to obfuscate our private data seems like walking in the door backwards to me.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          They will think you left but didn’t see you going in! Brilliant!And not sure how you fake spending data … not like you can pretend to buy 1,000 tacos across the country all within a month/week/day.

          1. Vineeth Kariappa

            has any1 written anythin like that?

          2. Matt A. Myers

            Like what ? Creating fake spending ? That wouldn’t be technically possible..

          3. Vineeth Kariappa

            Cash on delivery, assuming google reads that; I can create a website that considers 1 payment as 1 payment/ hour from the same ip. Think that will work?

          4. Matt A. Myers

            Too many variables to know if it’s possible to become full stealth until you try..

          5. Vineeth Kariappa

            Do guys in the US fund ideas like this?

          6. Matt A. Myers

            Probably not going to happen. Sounds more like an open source project – that may then get crowd support if you have a name behind you and have made progress.

          7. Vineeth Kariappa

            after a few years then.

          8. Matt A. Myers

            Perhaps. Like anything before getting money, you usually need to show proof of concept points.

        2. Dan Goldin

          At least adding noise adds computational complexity to the problem. Obviously not a long term solution but as long as we keep on making the costs higher..

          1. awaldstein

            True…but this approach is like wearing camouflage when you are attacking at night.I’d rather not spend cycles on solution that make my privacy a battleground issue.

          2. Dan Goldin

            Yea – it’s a complete societal waste to be doing this that doesn’t actually solve the real issue.Reminds of the joke with the 2 hunters and the bear:There is an old joke about two hunters who angered a mama bear in the woods and she started chasing after them. As the two men ran for their lives, one said, “It’s hopeless, we can’t outrun the bear!” And the other replied, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you!”

          3. awaldstein

            Good one!

      2. ShanaC

        How nontrivial? How difficult of a problem is it?

      3. Robert Holtz

        Extremely good point. And ultimately, that only invites more invasive forms of reconnaissance.

    2. Tracey Jackson

      I agree. And what about the fact with all that noise, or dumping the word jihad in and randomly placing yourself in places you would never visit, how will the real problem people be weeded out from the massive group noise? And then when people search you for real things jobs,credibility etc, when strange things come up one won’t know what to believe. And human nature being what it is, we tend to err on the side of caution.Yes, there must be a better way.

      1. awaldstein

        word jihad –great phrasing.

        1. andyidsinga

          ixnay on ordw-j-ay s.a.n.ay is isteninglay

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen


          2. ShanaC

            i wonder if they can tell?

      2. ShanaC

        the better question is how do you sort out a mass of people from a mass of machines (maybe this problem is largely we are getting closer to solving the Turning test)

    3. Richard

      “I don’t trust society to protect us, I have no intention of placing my fate in the hands of men whose only qualification is that they managed to con a block of people to vote for them.” ― Mario Puzo, The Godfather

      1. awaldstein

        Great quote.Of course, the Don lived in a reality where he could simply decide to not to talk on the phone.That is as unrealistic to my life as creating enough noise so no one except those I want can hear what I want them to!

      2. Rohan

        Knowing you, I’m sure this is tongue-in-cheek.That said, we have to take a moment to marvel at the artistry of Francis Ford Coppola. Let’s put this in context – you are quoting a Mafia don who got his way by killing or threatening to kill where he saw fit. If the movie were a normal movie, he would have been the villain.. the guy cops tried hard to hunt down and kill.But, thanks to the genius of the book and the movie, we see it from the eyes of a Mafioso – in a closed world. Suddenly, the cops and other Dons are the bad guys and Don Corleone is the good guy.It’s amazing what we can do when we play with perspective.Well played to those who created the movie.

      3. LE

        ” they managed to con a block of people”But that is the world which you live in it consists of those people. Your job is to try and navigate that world and get what you can out of it by understanding how groups of people operate. You scratch my back I’ll scratch yours. Older than prostitution probably.As an aside the mafia (mythical or real – it doesn’t matter for this statement) does a version of the same thing. They manage to con a block of people into doing things for them by feeding them rewards or things of value (turkeys at christmas, community improvements, muscle when they need it etc.)It’s really just a version of what politicians do. Take (from what I’ve heard) what happens with patronage and the port authority (PA). This entire machine (and the same sort of thing exists in Philly) doles out favors in exchange for votes. Kennedy got elected partially because of what his father was able to do with the unions as another example. (Feel free to correct my history but this type of thing happens).And everyone does this. Think smoking is bad? I do. But if a tobacco company gave me a “big order” I would take that order no doubt. Maybe my neighbor wouldn’t but would he make sure that the company that rents the building to the tobacco company or does their advertising is also to blame and ban an order from them? Everyone draws the line at a different place depending on the particular circumstances while criticizing others for playing a version where the goal post is slightly different.

        1. Richard

          “Get what you can out of it” is a mindset whose time should come to an end.

    4. LE

      “More noise as the only strategy”A solution like this, unless it becomes ubiquitous, [1] will only serve to draw more attention and scrutiny to people who use it.[1] It won’t there aren’t enough people % wise who care of this issue to implement this type of solution.

    5. JamesHRH

      I don’t think we need to add more noise.Google will drown in its data.Search is no longer useful, say 50% of the time. In time that will be 20%. Then the revolution!

    6. Robert Holtz

      I agree.On the one hand, tilting the signal-to-noise ratio like that is an extremely clever and out-of-the-box solution.But in the bigger picture, do we really want to break the Internet just because our government is broken?

      1. awaldstein

        Not I nor anyone really.The web is a tool to fix the world, not provide a smoke screen against. it.This is mental gymnastics, exercise not progress.

        1. Robert Holtz

          Hear, hear!


      Yes, don’t put personal information on the internet. Also, rethink “personal”. For example, should you really be telling someone you’re romatically interested in them via the internet? Should you not go to the effort of meeting someone in person to tell them? What kind of person will accept such half-assed attention as a text message instead of travelling to meet them and hold their hand?.Don’t get me wrong there are times when people can’t meet in person. But, what does it say about your respect for yourself if you’ll will accept a quick text or email in place of *real* effort?

      1. awaldstein

        I wrote this post almost three years ago when the first FB privacy debacle arose.Mostly–I still feel the same way:“The best way to protect your privacy is to understand that you live in public. And act accordingly.”

  5. Tom Hughes

    Very interesting to think about this in the context of Jaron Lanier’s terrific opinion piece in the NY Times this morning, about rebalancing the power of individuals over their own data:

    1. fredwilson

      Yes. It feels like we are starting to talk about the changing landscape and what it is leading too

    2. Dave W Baldwin

      A few problems with his opinion center on strategy matched against reality.1) You are not going to be able to have millions sell to each other on Facebook without Facebook demanding a cut which will lead to Facebook making it complicated if they think their users are gaining the edge.2) Moore’s Law is not Acceleration. Too many do not really understand acceleration.3) The ability for the machine to adjust due to the scenario playing out is improving (and accelerating). It would be better to look at this situation looking at a possible long term solution from a different angle.Thanks for posting the link!

  6. Aviah Laor

    Trying to take ALL the data may prove to achieve the blip effect without any further intervention. The fact that the data is available seems like looking where there is light instead of trying to pinpoint with true intelligence work. Side issue: Google Glass should be seriously re-considered.

  7. Richard

    govt has morphed into a psycho ex-boyfriend.

    1. fredwilson

      Nice analogy

      1. Richard

        Well now we know why there is such a shortage of Data Scientists in San Francisco and New York,,,,

  8. LIAD

    Too effing cool!Run disinformation. Scorched earth style.You want data? Here’s your data. Have fun analysing that. #chump

  9. takingpitches

    I don’t pooh pooh privacy as my comments and posts on my blogs over the years indicate.That said, there is a balance. Many companies including many in the USV portfolio depend on knowledge of their customers to deliver more and more relevant services.We rightly spend a lot of time on this blog cheering when Twitter, foursquare, and others deliver us content and recommendations relevant to us and do it for “free.”

    1. fredwilson

      We should be given the right to opt into and out of those services. I would opt into them but some may not

      1. takingpitches

        Agree. I would like access, portability, and a right to be forgotten too.

  10. jason wright

    google as a blip. yes please.blip enhance is a negative answer. the answer needs to be positive.

  11. Louis P Solomon

    This is certainly possible. There are always two methods for confusing organizations: provide no data or provide too much data. The former is difficult with the increasing capability of data analysis procedures, including sophisticated pattern recognition software. The latter is much easier, but probably will eventually fail because of the increasing computer analysis and storage capabilities (more pattern recognition). There is another technique that Google could use: for people who provide information that is deliberately misleading (think pattern recognition) they will ban the user. The number of people who will actually demand their privacy will be extremely small: Google doesn’t have to worry. And, there is one interesting addenda: if the user makes ONE slip in his false data generation process it will be immediately obvious to the analytical process. Very few people are willing or capable to monitor their own behavior in such detail.Finally, it is my regret to tell you that the concept of privacy is overcome. There is none if you wish to live in connection with your fellow humans. Can you live “off the grid?” Yes: no communications of any kind; no credit cards, no bank accounts, no memberships in any organization of any kind, etc. Can this be done? Yes, but a vanishingly small number of people want it, or can follow such a rigid regime.Cordially,

  12. Richard

    There is always Pig Latan.

    1. Tom Labus

      Bellum omnium in omnes

  13. kidmercury

    here is what is needed:1. the political will to engage in civil disobedience — i.e. break the law. if you’re not willing to do this there is no point in having further discussions.2. a federation — i.e. many small nodes working together — that help each other break the law. this is basically the creation of an independent government.3. technically, the real solution is going to be something like the creation of an independent internet. this is very similar to a private network that many of you have in your homes and offices. only certain computers are allowed to connect and communicate with each other. this is the architecture of the future and is needed anyway to deal with peak bandwidth.4. eventually the birth of a new currency/money supply, of which bitcoin is the first iteration, comes in somewhere along the way which blows the whole thing wide open and lets the revolution kick into high gear.the disinformation stuff like blip enhance is useful to buy more time and slow things down, though ultimately it is still playing defense. only when step #1 is achieved can the tide really turn.

    1. fredwilson


      1. LE

        “engage in civil disobedience”Not sure I would be agreeing with that comment if I lived in the confines of NYC and were highly visible (as you are) and on the radar.I think you have a false sense of security that comes from the shear mass of people surrounding you. If masses decide to riot and pillage they aren’t going to be doing it in the suburbs where I live. The city will be the meeting point and ground zero. Civil disobedience sounds benign but as it picks up a head of steam it can get pretty ugly.NYC is a machine. Disturb parts of that machine and the whole thing falls apart. What is to prevent the civil disobedients from killing a part of the city’s critical infrastructure? There aren’t enough police or national guard to protect everything. Not to mention the fact that operatives from other governments could use it as a way to do their damage in the resulting confusion.

        1. fredwilson

          occupy wall street was civil disobedience

          1. LE

            Kid’s full statement was:”engage in civil disobedience — i.e. break the law.”Besides the fact that he did add “break the law”, things like that are a gateway to more bold actions. People start out with something benign and nominal and then move on to more dangerous and risky behaviors. While it’s romantic to think of things like MLK’s non-violent freedom marches [1] in the 60’s today’s leaders will not necessarily be MLK.If someone condones others breaking the law then they are entrusting others to act at the line which you think is ok and not cross, as opposed to whatever others see which could very well be a different line which they choose in order to achieve their goals. To them it’s war and anything can be justified.[1] Which by the way another element did riot and cause problems for MLK (the sanitation workers march).

          2. kidmercury

            there is no rule of law. the government breaks the law all the time, and has already shut down a city. the ignorant will claim this is for our protection, though those who have studied history are less inclined to be that naive.the argument you put forth is the way slaves think. it is exactly how most colonists thought of the revolution in 1776 and exactly how most blacks though of rebelling against slavery in the 19th century.

          3. Alex Murphy

            What do you think the American Revolution was? A sit in?

          4. pointsnfigures

            It was, and while they might have had the right target-they had the exact incorrect solutions to the problem

          5. ShanaC

            why do you think they had the right target (given your background)

          6. Robert Holtz

            True but, unfortunately, the Occupy movement was mishandled and the message became murky at best. Even some Occupiers didn’t entirely understand what their platform was. Eventually, it became a catch-all group for a lot of anti-capitalists with no solutions and the core idea got lost in translation.It started as a very compelling fairness-in-taxation movement and that is a movement that REALLY should still be addressed especially by entrepreneurs who believe in progressive capitalism. People like here on AVC who believe in doing well while doing good.There is a great documentary on this subject that expresses the core issue better than any Occupier ever did. It is called “We’re NOT Broke”. Highly recommend you check it out:

    2. jason wright

      why the need to break the law?

      1. kidmercury

        because liberty and innovation are in the process of being outlawed. liberty reserve was already shutdown. bitcoin will be regulated to death, that much is obvious before it even started. now that VCs are involved there is someone worth suing and fining.another example is spectrum. the only real solution for dealing with peak bandwidth is to completely de-regulate spectrum and treat it like the non-scarce, non-competitive asset that it is. government laws are treating spectrum like property — like land. if the internet is to continue growing this must be changed.many will be asking the same question you’ve presented here and will feel that there is not yet sufficient proof of the necessity of breaking unconstitutional laws. they will be provided with greater and greater proof as the situation progresses.

        1. ShanaC

          out of curiosity, have you ever read any manifesto by electronic disturbance theater – i keep thinking you would want them

    3. Richard

      Easy first step, ‘rolling’ boycots.

      1. pointsnfigures

        It may not be breaking a “law” in terms of a government law. There are “laws” (standards) on the internet that might need breaking. I am reminded that using Google is purely voluntary. If everyone switched to a different search engine and different browsers-Google would feel the pain and the fragmentation would make it more challenging to collect data.But, what if all Americans decided not to write a check on April 15? Would be interesting.

        1. JLM

          .This is exactly where we are headed — a tax revolution and revolt.JLM.

          1. pointsnfigures

            I am in. Did PRISM just snatch that?

    4. LE

      ” the political will to engage in civil disobedience — i.e. break the law. if you’re not willing to do this there is no point in having further discussions.”Have you ever done this? If so to what extent?

      1. kidmercury

        everyone breaks the law all the time whether they know it or not, though that’s not what i’m referring to. the proper way to create the revolution is to setup all the nodes first and then engage in civil disobedience as necessary. i am working on setting up all the nodes first and have been for the past 7 years. admittedly i have not made much progress, but i continue nonethless, waiting for the rest of the world to catch up and understand the inevitability of revolution. of course as i have told you many time already most people are ignorant, so they will need to experience financial loss before they acquire the maturity to understand and accept the role they are to play in the revolution, however small or large it may be.but perhaps your question is meant to inquire as to whether i talk the talk and walk the walk, to which the answer is yes.

        1. LE

          “is meant to inquire as to whether i talk the talk and walk the walk”Exactly. I thought I did that in a nice way though.”i am working on setting up all the nodes first and have been for the past 7 years.”On to my next question now. Explain to me, because I really want to know to better understand, how much time you spend on this and to what extent it prevents you from making a better financial situation for yourself?As a hobby I like to fly RC helicopters and have for a long time. The outer office is fine for flying the micro one, and the battery only lasts maybe 6 minutes. So I do that from time to time. I have a larger one that I fly on the field outside as a as well when it’s not to windy. It’s a hobby, it takes a little time but most importantly it doesn’t detract me from earning a living nor does anything I spend hobby hours on. (Any more than Fred’s like of music or basketball prevents him from earning a living -or- JLM’s red car or airplane).So my question for you is, to what extent has your focus on the greater good of others, and what you believe is better for society prevented you from providing for a stable income for yourself?Do you see this as a problem at all? And if so what drives you to do this?Or do I have it wrong and are you doing well enough that this is something which doesn’t prevent you from earning a living?I don’t mean any malice by my questions I’m just curious because you are always driving home the same points. I drive home points as well but other than making those points here I don’t spend a minute elsewhere (with the exception of some younger relatives or my wife that is.)

          1. kidmercury

            i was working on it 60+ hours a week from 2006 to 2010. then about 30-40 hours per week since then. it does earn me money, just not enough.the fundamental difference between you and me is you view service to others and service to self as being in opposition. i find this to be naive. they are synergistic.

          2. ShanaC

            it depresses me that one has to work 60+ hours a week. Where did labor go – what happened to the 40+ hour week?

  14. Farhan Abbasi

    Fred wouldn’t your proposal hurt the revenue and operation models of some of your portfolio companies? Example: foursquare check ins in places you really aren’t would essentially make users not care about check ins since it’s probably fake info anyway.

    1. fredwilson

      It is not my proposal. I just thought it is interesting and worth a discussion this morning

      1. Farhan Abbasi

        Cool beans. Thanks for responding.

  15. alek

    Such a strategy would only fuel wiretapping initiatives, as politicians would argue terrorist chatter is on the rise.And good luck explaining in court that your Google searches for bomb schematics were generated by a bot on a crusade to protect privacy.

    1. fredwilson


    2. JLM

      .While you comment is made with a bit of mirth at its core, the really scary thing is that when they come for Fred they will be bearing his Internet searches, Internet activity, blog, phone records, credit card purchases, checks, investments, community/network members, political contributions, taxes, charitable contributions, travel records, emails and that of all of his relatives and friends.All of this information is readily available and would normally be subject to a subpoena. The government, if the Prism report is to be believed, has simply stepped over the messy necessity to obtain that subpoena as it would require some allegation of wrong doing against Fred.Now they can build their evidence and see what it might support. It is very scary.The good news is that as an innocent man nothing should be taken as being damning in such a multi-dimensional picture of all things Fred.That, of course, assumes that the government is looking for the truth and not just looking to hurt or impede Fred.This is why the IRS scandal is so frightening. Our government used information provided by its citizens as a political tool in service of the President and his election interests. All paid for by the government.JLM.

  16. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    So let us assume we have the means to blanket signals to make say ad targetting totally hit and miss, but can choose to send clear unadulterated signal when we wish to be seen.Some obvious outcomes appear. It is clear when we want to be targeted – good, and…1) Broadcast rather than targeted advertising continues (its just less efficient but companies still wish to be seen, so will pay more for the privilege). This means that proportionally more goes to the companies with financial means.2) As targeted ads are much more attractive to the promoter some company decides to allow you to opt-in to configurable firehose of targeted messages. In essence this is what you do when you walk into a shop3) Smaller companies and services prosper based on real recommendations from peers (is there a more reliable means over building a network of trusted advisors to assess product or service you don’t otherwise know). They form communities or (markets).4) Content is more than ever king.So most people serving large horizontal markets continue to broadcast – Sometimes it scores generally it expensively buiild brand awareness.Those serving vertical niches offer value within that niche and develop reputation or their own private channels/communities.I think this is already happening… for example LinkedIn provides access to verticals based on group membership for content delivery or consumption. However, their (as I understand it) fairly walled garden approach to content (comments etc) inhibits their own promotion. I think at least for B2B advertising and community development linkedIn have much to gain by opening their doors somewhat.The missing link is still largely the ability to surface communites with low friction (think disqus, etc)

    1. falicon

      +100. You had me at hello…but you get even more props for that close! 🙂

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        <— *nods*, *bows deeply* , *smiles*

      2. Matt A. Myers

        Ha. I liked the post all the way through and was wondering what this epic +100 conclusion could be …

    2. ShanaC

      don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t always want peers giving me adviceand 100% about linkedin and content – though they want to own their own ad system, they need to start thinking about the fact that they would have a difficult time owning the entire b2b content world

  17. Henry Glover

    Big search and social sites ‘terms of service’ clearly defines their need of our data to deliver relevant information. A widespread campaign like that would probably result in a lot of suspended accounts.

  18. dave

    Or.. Google could voluntarily decentralize, go back to the web as they found it, and they wouldn’t have to deal with any of this crazyness.

  19. JLM

    .There is an interesting dilemma at work here.On one hand, I have no problem with the Internet using the information that I KNOW they possess from me and that I have freely shared. That is, at the end of the day, the foundation of building communities — common interests.I used to trust them but now even my church directory allows one to opt out of being listed. We are all ultra sensitive.On the other hand, I have a huge problem with the government building a file on me — even from readily available information — under any pretext. Particularly if I have demonstrably done nothing wrong.Part of the problem is that the government has been building files on everyone for a long, long, long time. This did not start with the Internet (or arguably Al Gore). I once had a chance to look at my consolidated file and it was amazing how complete and comprehensive it all was.They literally knew more about me than I consciously did about myself.I am still to this day bowled over at what a high opinion my 3rd grade teacher had of me and what a judge of horseflesh she was. If only I could have lived up to her expectations of me, no?The Internet represents just the most recent source of information on each of us. The government cannot help itself.Who really knows when Freddie will go over the edge and start indiscriminately trading bitcoin, as an example. Well, the NSA, et al, will be ready for when that blue crayon drifts past their secret line.The intelligence community is in a very interesting position — they were pissed off at the last two DCI appointments — a politician and a soldier, eeek! — and now the notion that they bear some responsibility for the Benghazi communication mess has them really seeking vengeance against the Obama administration.This includes Defense which is not wild about the Hagel appointment. How do you think those Generals feel being bossed around by a former Sergeant? Nothing wrong with Sergeants but you can understand the problem.The Prism leak is a huge shot across the bow and with the President, the AG, the DCI and Sec Def all out of favor with their home team, it will be interesting to see where this leads.One possibility not to discard is that the infamous PPT is a sham. Remember the CIA is in the business of making fake documents when they need to. Don’t swallow it all.The NSA has been listening in on your phone calls for decades as long as they are out there in the ether. They arguably cannot tap a phone line without a warrant but they have been able to troll the ether since it was invented. And, they do routinely. What do you think all those Cray computers were being used for?Storage is now so cheap that data is being stored with no apparent plan to use it other than to have it available.If all of the big Internet shops are, in fact, sharing with the government there is a huge class action lawsuit that will make asbestos look like sunflower seeds.JLM.

    1. andyidsinga

      re : storage with no apparent plant to use it.was chatting with coworkers the other day about this – the gov doesnt need to process everything jn realtime, they can wait until an event occurs and they go look at the data and find the bad guys. so, there is a ‘long arm’ disincentive for some criminals.

      1. JLM

        .Not only does the government not have to process things in real time, there are emerging technologies which can be applied to stored data that did not exist at the time they were gathered and stored.A perfect example is the technology of “voice prints” which can now be applied to old data to identify conversations which were unattributed just several years ago.JLM.

        1. andyidsinga

          so true! we have even developed consumer grade speaker identification software at work. i can only imagine what the gov has in their big iron.

          1. JLM

            .The gov has technology derived from the anti-submarine program that can tell whether a sub has a full complement of missiles based upon its acoustic signature.They can tell if you are cheating at scrabble by the inflection of your voice.If you are using a cell phone, you might as well include the NSA on your Christmas card list. They will call to remind you. And they will address the cards for you.JLM.

          2. ShanaC

            check in-q-tel

      2. ShanaC

        this is problematic for civil disobedience reasons – the government as my representative is not perfect, and I have an occasional obligation to change it through breaking its laws. I dare to wonder what would happen if in something like voi dire (the most direct part of our democracy is participation in a jury) the kind of data analysis the nsa seems to have was being used to prevent me from getting on a jury, lest I nullify the case (post hearing it) because I might be likely to.

        1. andyidsinga

          god forbid those tools be used in such a way. hence the whole purpose of legal branch oversight

    2. Pete Griffiths

      And add to that DNA swabs on any pretext.

      1. JLM

        .I have a bit less concern about the implications of a mouth swab for DNA if you are in their custody subject to “probable cause” — in many ways it is simply a matter of identification like a fingerprint.I am aghast at the implications of the number of totally innocuous tidbits of data that the government can store until they become useful.This is inherently wrong and violates the standards of reasonable search and seizure as they are being done at an instant in time that there is no real justification for their collection.JLM.

        1. Pete Griffiths

          I agree. I have no problem with probable cause. I do have a problem if they keep the information if you turn out to be innocent.

  20. jmcaddell

    I worked with a government contractor in the 80s, and they did electronic countermeasures… essentially creating small, metallic chaff that ships threw in the air to confuse radar systems. A few years ago, after the wsj posted a series of articles on privacy, I shared this approach with our local tech meetup as a possible approach to manage privacy. the attendees, mostly younger folks, have me funny looks, and said ” why would we need that?” Finally the reasons are becoming clear. Also, this is a very ” Antifragile” idea – noise is cheap and easy to generate.

    1. Martin De Saulles

      Chaff or Window (as it was called by the British) was used in WW2 to confuse enemy radar – whether it can fool modern eavesdroppers is another matter. However, as you say, noise is cheap and easy to generate..

  21. JLM

    .It will be incredibly easy for the NSA, et al, to identify chaff from core given mathematical modeling. You only have so many hours in a day and only so many hours connected to the Internet. If you produce substantially more product then it will be possible to model from whence the chaff is coming.The NSA already is able to use the time of a conversation and the time space between words — terrorists speak shorter periods of time and have hugely larger spaces between their words because they are being cagey — to identify conversations ripe for further review.Add in time of day (terrorists do not get up early), location, phone numbers, keywords, languages, voiceprints and the NSA can take a field full of wheat and reduce it to a couple of plants that are of real interest. In less than a second for an hour of conversation. Easy.By being able to go back several years, they can find the same folks before they became cagey.Do not bet against the NSA on anything. They are the last truly well kept secret in the US.JLM.

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      Well explained.

    2. ShanaC

      this sounds to me like they would also be catching a lot of nyers

  22. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Maybe I’m an idealist, but I think it would be more effective if all us “cool kids” started using, embedding, and advocating Duck Duck Go (and some alternative to Gmail — what is that, anyway?).It would be too easy for Google to spin Blip Enhance to the masses as a cracking activity. The killer for a lot of movements has been when the PTB are able to paint them as dangerous criminals.

    1. fredwilson

      duckduckgo’s traffic doesn’t seem to have gotten a big push from all of this, at least yet…

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        I don’t know anyone outside the tech community who has heard of them. It does seem like this could be a great PR moment for them to offer themselves up as privacy experts… Gabriel could even just write a letter to the editor at NYT or WaPo.My 70 year old mom would start using them, if she heard about them in this context.I will use them and refer to them from now on. Who, if not me? As the saying goes…

        1. LE

          “Gabriel could even just write a letter to the editor at NYT or WaPo.”A great idea. Gabe should try to exploit this and also offer himself up as a talking head on the subject.I suggest he contact the local stations in Philly which will give him some screen time. That would lead to possible network exposure.Might be a good idea to contact a local PR firm with TV contacts since time is of the essence and he needs to be packaged correctly.

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            You’re right – start local! This really is DDG’s story.

          2. Anne Libby

            This community could also get them trending on Twitter. I’m in. #ddg

          3. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Zactly. I Tweeted it today and will FB it later.

      2. pointsnfigures

        I switched.



        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Maybe they should change it to BlipEnhance and buy the domain from Charlie 🙂

    2. Anne Libby

      Duck Duck Mail — I’d sign up for that!

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen




      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Oh ya… I haven’t thought about in a while. I need to get back there… #IOwnMe

  23. Ro Gupta

    Reminds me of a plan George Clooney was pushing to trip up Gawker’s celeb tracker feature a while back

  24. andyidsinga

    ive occasinally wondered if this kind of thing might be possible by having a bot/avatar, with its own personality, act on my behalf for some amount of time during the day ..reporting back somehow ( onion router? ) the bot might even be a composite of several randomly selected real people ( who participate in the system ).the problem starts to become : how do participants interact with the bot to receive their data … and now were back to spy vs spy.

  25. umangjaipuria

    At least I won’t be as upset about the irrelevant ads then.

  26. Joe

    I have a friend who has had “Hi NSA” in his email signature for a decade for this reason.

  27. matthughes

    Like the mixed signs coming from the dugout…The manager or coach holds up several signs but only one of them is the actual play.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Along with knowledge of a pre-known algorithm or pattern to recognize the valid data..

      1. matthughes

        i.e., when I pull on my ear, you steal second…

        1. Matt A. Myers

          I could probably guess that to then decipher the valid signals..

  28. howardlindzon

    why twitter is so important to me. most of what I share is nonsense 🙂

    1. Matt A. Myers

      You might be put on some lists …

    2. William Mougayar

      You were way ahead of us ;)Nonsense is the new norm

      1. howardlindzon

        i love that….my next business or book will be called nonsense…

  29. george

    The picture is worth what the probability of the data is? Good one!

  30. Dave W Baldwin

    There is a way to do this, but it takes real planning. I sent one reader of AVC something along this line and I’m not sure if that person made the connection. The important point to remember is putting this product out there has to be a part of OS of some other party. Will either Google or Apple allow someone to place fake info into the pot? Remember we have the wish to sell data as well as collect/store data.I do appreciate Mike’s idea and it can be done.

  31. Shaun Dakin

    You could at the browser levels but not the isp.The fundamental problem is if you disguise who you are the internet breaks for most consumers. Having to login every single time to facebook is not something that most consumers will do.





  33. mikenolan99

    Thanks Fred! Of course, we can monetize the idea by selling Google encryption key…:)

  34. Alex Murphy

    The “misinformation” already happens from all of the bots and zombie machines on the web. As much as 30% of all click behavior today is not a real human, even sign ups & registrations.It is logical to think that this is being seeded by China etc. They don’t care for Google and other advertisers. They want them to be built upon problem / suspect data. It creates an inefficient market, which hurts the economy.At this point, if you have a web business, and you buy advertising, it is very likely that a portion of that buy is being facilitated by Google, regardless of where you buy that advertising. Whether it is through Google’s business apps, Google Analytics, Google +, or one of their advertising vehicles, (dc, adwords, etc), the data or ad is going through the google system somewhere along the way.The reason that so much goes through Google is not because it is bad for business … but because it is good. Publishers make higher CPM rates, Advertisers get lower CPA rates, and Google makes an optimization yield in the middle all while providing a better and better service to users. If Google starts to drown in their data, then their data becomes less of an asset and their algorithm is less effective. More ad revenue is going to Google right now because buying advertising on Google is more cost effective than the next source. If that changes, then Google will stop getting more ad revenue.Creating a system that overwhelms Google isn’t in the interest of Internet businesses or Internet users. It is in the interest of foreign or corporate ‘espionagers’ so to speak.A better outcome would be to find a way to produce a service that delivers advertisers an alternate choice, at scale, that is a great service for its users. Perhaps that would be a better way to spend time & resources rather than trying to figure out how to overwhelm Google … and by the way, for those of you that have that as a goal, good luck with that one!

  35. SubstrateUndertow

    Digital – Discordianism…

  36. ShanaC

    Doesn’t that sort of noise already exist in that people change so our data is always out of date?

  37. ShanaC

    This is an old story –…published in 1996 – there were already left wing activists aware these sorts of things with technology could happen. I’m just shocked it hasn’t entered the tech mainstream’s ideasphere until now

  38. Dave W Baldwin

    I did get a kick out of Mike’s comment. To accomplish the goal of producing a protection engine requires looking beyond Google. The concern is the NSA taking everything, the net, the cell and the tele (we haven’t touched video/photos).In all reality, we are the point now where the treasure trove of data is being compiled and the tech will improve where dissecting (speed/accuracy) that info will catch up. That is the main reason for my trying to walk in the middle understanding the concerns from both sides (prevention of attack/privacy concerns) since if we don’t have a mature discussion, the public truly doesn’t really have an idea what is going to happen when that tech does catch up.I’m glad it is starting to happen, but with today’s revelation on who the source of the leak is, we are running the danger of subterfuge where all the confusing noise will be the media… We need to keep the ball rolling.

  39. Gareth Ochse

    I had a similar idea: offer a service that automatically inserts random bits of encrypted code in the footer/header/body of a message so that it looks like you’ve got secrets to hide. Let their machines spend hours/time figuring out codecs only to decrypt nonsense text. Done often enough it swamps the listeners…The problem is that most people are apathetic so by taking an overt response one is helping the listeners filter the trouble makers (you) already.The other approach is to turn the negative into a positive. Ignore all email until the CIA think its important enough to read…:)

  40. Sean Hull

    Absolutely agree with this.A lot of data being collected. But these days there’s a real problem of *TOO MUCH* data. Part of the intelligence failure of 9/11 was different agencies not communicating. In the Boston bombing there was also a lack of putting the pieces together.

  41. Friv4

    Blip Enhance may be the new method to help google control the web on the internet, however the way to develop it should be chosen carefully

  42. Friv

    I agree.human nature being what it is, we tend to err on the side of caution.Yes, there must be a better way.

  43. William Mougayar

    +10 upvoted

  44. fredwilson

    not much there

  45. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I cannot believe that was available!

  46. mikenolan99

    I’ll help with the pitch, and get sandwiches for the team…

  47. William Mougayar

    🙂 It wasn’t available at GoDaddy for $4?

  48. Kirsten Lambertsen


  49. ShanaC


  50. mikenolan99

    Quick… someone file a patent… 🙂