Traversing a path to freedom

In the light of on coming onslaught of government surveillance (or otherwise), how does one prepare to live life in freedom — freedom from your privacy being infringed upon? Essentially, how to live life on your own terms and how to free yourself from depending on the government for your needs?

Here are some thoughts on activities in daily life, and their freedom respecting alternatives:

  • Paying people: cash or cryptocurrency
  • Electricity: install solar panels
  • Food: If possible, grow your own. You cannot know what pesticides and agro-chemicals you are consuming when you purchase from the market.
  • Internet: No ISP is better than another. Satellite internet might be slower, but probably better suited for privacy. Use cryptography to beat surveillance. Use ssh tunnels, VPNs, the Tor network etc.
  • Desktop Operating System: GNU/Linux, hell yeah! Fedora Linux is best (avoid Ubuntu)
  • Laptop: Any laptop that doesn’t have proprietary firmware is good. I use Thinkpad, but this is not the best choice.
  • Mobile Operating System: This is tricky. Android relies on Google Play Services, and is hence non-free at its core. After careful deliberation, I find Jolla’s Sailfish OS as the best freedom respecting mobile platform. I use Windows Phone (Lumia 1520) and Sailfish 2.0 (Intex Aquafish).
  • Mobile phone: A prepaid SIM, perhaps that came out from a vending machine, is best (this works in USA). In some countries, such a choice is not possible (India). Pay phones (with a coin drop slot) are perhaps the only option. Where legal, satellite phones (illegal in India) might give you ultimate freedom from surveillance. Do read Stallman’s views on this issue.
  • Maps: Good support for offline maps on mobile devices is in the works. Soon, OpenStreetMap would suffice for all user needs. With OpenStreetMap, you can own the data and you can run every service (search, geocoding, routing etc.) offline. Commercial equivalents will remain easy to use, but will aggressively collect your location data.
  • Mail: Probably best to setup your own server. I need to figure out strategies against failures, but it should be doable. Open protocols like IMAP, SMTP support end to end encryption, and it should be secure from surveillance.
  • Browser: Firefox preferably, otherwise Chromium if you can’t live without it.
  • Chat: IRC rocks. One can setup IRC bridge to use Slack through an IRC interface, which can help you avoid the proprietary Slack client. On the phone, I see no alternative of Whatsapp (which is non-free). Telegram is no better. Best to avoid these for now. On the desktop, I use XMPP clients like Pidgin / Empathy.
  • Travel: If you can pay anonymously and travel legally without an ID, that is the best. Indian Railways makes it possible. Traveling in your own vehicle is not the best either, since your number plate is prone to tracking and surveillance.
  • Social media: Avoid putting up photographs on social media as much as possible. Facebook and government agencies are known to be building massive facial recognition databases.

For insights into my inspirations, check out the lifestyle FAQs of Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation.

So, all good, Ishan. How much of this do you follow yourself? Not much, unfortunately. But knowing what is good for you is better than ignorance. And trying to achieve what is good for you is worth it.

12,690 thoughts on “Traversing a path to freedom

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  8. Right now, well being care fraud is all more than the news.
    There undoubtedly is fraud in health and fitness treatment.
    The similar is true for just about every enterprise or endeavor touched by human palms,
    e.g. banking, credit history, insurance policies, politics, etcetera.
    There is no dilemma that wellness treatment companies who abuse their position and our trust to steal are a challenge.

    So are people from other professions who do the identical.

    Why does well being care fraud seem to get the ‘lions-share’ of attention? Could it be that it is the best motor vehicle
    to drive agendas for divergent groups wherever taxpayers, overall health treatment shoppers and overall health
    treatment vendors are dupes in a well being care fraud
    shell-game operated with ‘sleight-of-hand’ precision?

    Acquire a nearer seem and a person finds this is no sport-of-opportunity.
    Taxpayers, individuals and companies usually drop due to the fact the trouble with wellbeing treatment fraud is not just the fraud, but it is that our governing administration and insurers use the
    fraud difficulty to further agendas whilst at the very same time fall short to be accountable and take responsibility for a fraud challenge they aid and allow
    to prosper.

    1.Astronomical Expense Estimates

    What better way to report on fraud then to tout fraud value estimates, e.g.

    – “Fraud perpetrated against both of those community and non-public wellbeing designs expenditures involving $seventy two and $220 billion each year, growing the price tag of health-related care and health and fitness insurance policies and undermining public trust in our wellness care system… It is no lengthier a key that fraud signifies just one of the speediest escalating and most expensive sorts of crime in America nowadays… We pay back these costs as taxpayers and by way of bigger health insurance plan rates… We must be proactive in combating health and fitness care fraud and abuse… We should also be certain that law enforcement has the instruments that it desires to deter, detect, and punish health care fraud.” [Senator Ted Kaufman (D-DE), 10/28/09 push launch]

    – The Standard Accounting Business office (GAO) estimates
    that fraud in healthcare ranges from $sixty billion to
    $600 billion for each yr – or any place among 3% and ten% of the $2
    trillion overall health care budget. [Health and fitness Treatment Finance Information studies, 10/2/09] The GAO is the investigative arm of

    – The National Health and fitness Care Anti-Fraud Association (NHCAA) stories over $fifty four billion is stolen every single 12 months in cons built to
    stick us and our insurance coverage providers with fraudulent and unlawful healthcare rates.
    [NHCAA, website-web site] NHCAA was created
    and is funded by well being insurance policy providers.

    Regretably, the dependability of the purported
    estimates is doubtful at finest. Insurers,
    point out and federal companies, and other individuals may perhaps collect fraud information relevant
    to their have missions, wherever the sort, good quality
    and quantity of knowledge compiled may differ commonly.
    David Hyman, professor of Law, College of Maryland, tells us that the commonly-disseminated
    estimates of the incidence of well being treatment fraud and abuse (assumed to be
    10% of full paying) lacks any empirical basis at all, the minimal we do know about
    wellness care fraud and abuse is dwarfed by what we really
    don’t know and what we know that is not so.
    [The Cato Journal, three/22/02]

    2.Health and fitness Care Expectations

    The regulations & principles governing wellbeing care – change from condition to
    condition and from payor to payor – are extensive and very perplexing for suppliers and many others to realize as
    they are prepared in legalese and not plain discuss.

    Suppliers use particular codes to report conditions dealt with (ICD-9) and solutions rendered (CPT-4 and HCPCS).
    These codes are applied when looking for payment from payors for services rendered to individuals.
    Although created to universally use to aid correct reporting to mirror providers’ expert services, several insurers instruct suppliers to
    report codes based on what the insurer’s personal computer modifying courses identify – not on what the service provider rendered.
    Additional, practice building consultants instruct vendors on what codes to
    report to get paid – in some situations codes that do not correctly mirror the provider’s company.

    Buyers know what expert services they get from
    their physician or other supplier but could not have a clue as to
    what these billing codes or assistance descriptors mean on clarification of gains obtained from insurers.
    This absence of comprehension may possibly outcome
    in individuals shifting on with no getting clarification of what the
    codes indicate, or may final result in some believing they have been improperly billed.
    The multitude of insurance programs obtainable currently, with different concentrations of protection, ad a wild card to the equation when companies
    are denied for non-coverage – primarily if it is Medicare that denotes non-lined solutions as not medically vital.

    three.Proactively addressing the health and fitness treatment
    fraud issue

    The federal government and insurers do incredibly minimal to proactively handle the issue with tangible things to do that will final result in detecting inappropriate promises
    in advance of they are compensated. In fact, payors of wellness care claims proclaim
    to operate a payment method based mostly on rely on that providers invoice accurately for expert services rendered,
    as they can not critique each claim just before payment is designed since the reimbursement program would
    shut down.

    They assert to use innovative computer courses to search for errors and styles in claims,
    have amplified pre- and article-payment audits of selected companies to detect fraud, and have established consortiums and task forces consisting of law enforcers and coverage investigators to analyze the trouble and share fraud data.
    Even so, this action, for the most part, is dealing with activity following the assert is compensated and has tiny bearing on the proactive detection of

    4.Exorcise wellness care fraud with the generation of new

    The government’s reviews on the fraud challenge are published in earnest in conjunction with attempts to reform our wellbeing care method, and our
    experience reveals us that it finally effects in the governing administration introducing and enacting
    new laws – presuming new guidelines will end result in a
    lot more fraud detected, investigated and prosecuted – with no creating how new laws will attain this extra correctly than existing regulations
    that were being not made use of to their total possible.

    With these types of attempts in 1996, we obtained the Wellness Insurance coverage Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
    It was enacted by Congress to tackle insurance policies portability and accountability
    for affected individual privateness and health and fitness care fraud and abuse.

    HIPAA purportedly was to equip federal regulation enforcers and prosecutors
    with the applications to assault fraud, and resulted in the creation of
    a range of new wellbeing treatment fraud statutes, which includes: Wellness Treatment Fraud, Theft or Embezzlement in Overall health Treatment, Obstructing Felony Investigation of Overall health Treatment,
    and Wrong Statements Relating to Health and fitness Care Fraud Matters.

    In 2009, the Wellbeing Care Fraud Enforcement Act appeared on the
    scene. This act has a short while ago been launched by Congress
    with promises that it will develop on fraud avoidance attempts and fortify
    the governments’ potential to examine and prosecute waste, fraud
    and abuse in each federal government and private health and fitness insurance policy
    by sentencing increases redefining overall health treatment
    fraud offense increasing whistleblower promises producing
    common-feeling psychological point out necessity for health and fitness treatment
    fraud offenses and increasing funding in federal antifraud expending.

    Undoubtedly, law enforcers and prosecutors Need to have
    the instruments to efficiently do their work opportunities.
    On the other hand, these steps alone, without the need of
    inclusion of some tangible and significant before-the-declare-is-paid actions, will have minimal effect on reducing
    the event of the problem.

    What is just one person’s fraud (insurer alleging medically needless
    services) is one more person’s savior (supplier administering assessments
    to defend in opposition to likely lawsuits from authorized sharks).
    Is tort reform a chance from individuals pushing for overall health treatment reform?
    Sad to say, it is not! Help for laws placing new and onerous necessities
    on providers in the identify of battling fraud, however, does not appear to be a

    If Congress genuinely needs to use its legislative powers to make
    a difference on the fraud trouble they need to consider outside-the-box of what has by now been carried out in some variety or vogue.

    Aim on some front-end exercise that offers with addressing the fraud right before it transpires.
    The adhering to are illustrative of techniques that could be taken in an work to stem-the-tide on fraud and abuse:

    -Need all payors and suppliers, suppliers and other individuals only
    use authorised coding units, where by the codes are plainly described for ALL to know and understand what the distinct code indicates.

    Prohibit any person from deviating from the defined that means when reporting products and services rendered (vendors, suppliers) and adjudicating statements for payment (payors and some others).
    Make violations a rigorous legal responsibility problem.

    -Need that all submitted promises to public and private insurers be signed or annotated in some manner by the affected person (or suitable representative) affirming
    they obtained the noted and billed expert services. If such affirmation is not existing declare is not compensated.

    If the declare is afterwards identified to be problematic investigators have the skill to talk with both equally the company and the client…

    -Require that all promises-handlers (specifically if they have
    authority to spend statements), consultants retained by insurers to guide
    on adjudicating claims, and fraud investigators be certified by a countrywide accrediting company
    beneath the purview of the authorities to exhibit that they have the requisite knowledge for recognizing health and fitness care fraud, and the understanding to detect
    and investigate the fraud in health treatment promises.
    If this sort of accreditation is not acquired, then neither the
    staff nor the specialist would be permitted to touch a wellbeing treatment claim or investigate
    suspected wellbeing treatment fraud.

    -PROHIBIT community and private payors from asserting fraud on statements beforehand compensated
    where by it is established that the payor knew or must have recognized the
    declare was improper and should really not have been paid.

    And, in these circumstances wherever fraud is
    founded in compensated promises any monies collected from companies and suppliers for overpayments be deposited into a nationwide
    account to fund numerous fraud and abuse education programs for shoppers, insurers, regulation enforcers, prosecutors, legislators
    and some others fund front-line investigators for point out
    overall health care regulatory boards to look into fraud
    in their respective jurisdictions as effectively as funding other wellness treatment
    related action.

    -PROHIBIT insurers from increasing premiums of policyholders dependent on estimates of the occurrence of fraud.
    Demand insurers to set up a factual basis for purported losses attributed to
    fraud coupled with exhibiting tangible proof
    of their initiatives to detect and look into fraud, as nicely as not having to pay fraudulent statements.

    five.Insurers are victims of health and fitness treatment fraud

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