All of us are in the same existential mess. Your identity is now part of your smartphone and laptop. Like a bunch of bumbling criminals, we’ve left countless unique markers and digital fingerprints all over our computers. Websites we’ve visited, usernames we’ve entered, search terms we’ve queried, and files we mistakenly thought were long-deleted all leave clues for nosy advertisers, snooping government spooks, and clever hackers. They can and do use these breadcrumbs to piece together exactly who we are, from our names to our toothpaste preferences.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can wear a digital mask that can confuse and contradict the massive surveillance and tracking apparatuses aimed at logging your every click. If—hypothetically, of course—I were to set out to create a new, fake identity using purely legal means, it wouldn’t be easy. But it is doable.