By Kevin Samson
There is nothing quite like the image of a tinfoil hat to get people chuckling over the paranoia of “the conspiracy theorist” who takes precautions against brain scanning and electronic mind control. But if one topic has gone from conspiracy theory to conspiracy fact, it is government surveillance. Even more than the “revelations” of Edward Snowden, it was the way the system came out against him, as well as the further rollout of surveillance-friendly legislation that has convinced many average people that indeed sometimes they are actually watching you.
Various solutions have been offered about how to protect your privacy while connected to the Internet or when using your mobile phone, but one new product holds the potential to protect you at the source: your home. It’s not quite tinfoil but it does claim to offer a physical shield against surveillance and attack.
Conductive Composites is a company based in Utah (home of the NSA’s mega data center interestingly), which makes small cases and enclosures for shielding electronics. The company claims that their lightweight material made by layering nickel on carbon could be scaled up and essentially turn your entire home into a Faraday cage capable of blocking efforts at snooping, while also offering protection from electromagnetic radiation and EMP attacks.
As Defense One explains, Faraday cages are in fact routinely used by the military and governments to secure their own sensitive locations:
Today, Faraday cages are all over the place. In 2013, as the College of Cardinals convened to elect a new Pope, the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel was converted into a Faraday cage so that news of the election couldn’t leak out, no matter how hard the paparazzi tried, and how eager the cardinals were to tweet the proceedings. The military also uses Faraday cages for secure communications: Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities or SCIFs are Faraday cages. You’ll need to be in one to access the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communication System, or JWICS, the Defense Department’s top-secret internet.
The ongoing threat from EMP attacks, whether man-made or natural, is an additional concern that has become more grave as our society is now fundamentally dependent on computer systems.
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Lightning strikes and other large electromagnetic pulse events—such as, say, a high-altitude nuclear explosion or geomagnetic storms caused by solar winds on a larger scale—can destroy electrical and electronic systems, inducing currents in conductors within them and overloading them. Just as generators create electricity by passing a wire through a magnetic field, a strong electromagnetic wave can create current within anything conductive it passes through. (Source)
A lightweight shielding material that is both flexible and scalable could be a key solution for those who wish to have the same level of security as our government and military.
A third area, which still remains somewhat controversial to the average person, is the health hazard of WiFi and other forms of electromagnetic radiation. Here, too, a flexible material that contains the properties of a Faraday cage could offer transportable protection for those who choose to shield themselves from pervasive signals.
The Conductive Composites website does show commercial-level production, but it remains to be seen how easy it will be for individuals to obtain these products – and at what cost. Interestingly, the company’s product page also lists paints, sealants, adhesives, concrete and wall paper, which suggests other protective applications.
This technology appears to be a positive step toward empowering those who have educated themselves about potential threats. Perhaps the largest hurdle, however, is to keep this type of technology legal. We have seen governments assert that the mere act of encryption should be made illegal; protecting yourself from drone surveillance has led to arrests; and sidestepping economic surveillance through technology such as Bitcoin is being viewed as potentially funding terrorism.
However, we also have learned that once technology is invented, those who demand freedom will always find a way to use it for their benefit.