There’s a brand new way to confuse the Surveillance Tech gods (Looking at you Facebook, Google, Amazon, Netflix) and it looks pretty cool. I ran across a Vice article recently by Edward Ongweso Jr about an experimental device called the FANGo (nicknamed after Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Netflix). An artist named Martin Nadal has created a phone charger that hijacks your phone and clicks randomly around the internet to make your ad data useless.
Here’s Martins stated purpose for creating the device
“FANGo” is a defense weapon against surveillance capitalism. Hidden under its appearance of mobile phone charger will be provided with a micro controller that takes control of the smartphone plugged in making queries to google, amazon and other search engines, launching videos in YouTube in order to deceive data brokers in their data capture process. (Source)
“Woah” was my reaction. I’ve seen projects like Ad Nauseum for browsers (it clicks on ads in the background to ruin your ad data) but I’ve never seen a project like this for a phone. This FANGo device is an attempt to fight back against the commoditization of our data. Our phones and our queries reveal a lot of information about us to Tech companies – who use it to sell us more stuff.
Martin details how the project works.
When the user loads the mobile phone, a microcontroller simulates touches and interactions into the phone, adding noise to the captured data, making them unusable for companies and data brokers.
While the phone is charging, the microcontroller will perform searches, videos will be seen on YouTube will be given likes to Facebook posts, all these interactions will be captured by the data brokers without knowing that they are automatic, noise with the sole intention of worsening the quality of the data captured. (Source)
Essentially – this charger takes over your phone and pretends you are doing stuff – when you actually aren’t. That messes up all your ad data – and makes the ads you get much less targeted. For example, say you are a single guy who lives alone, uses Apple products exclusively, and watches only documentaries.
If FANGo goes and watches a bunch of android videos, searches for cribs, and looks at Korean Drama movies on Netflix, that is going to mess up your ad data! The ads you get will be much less targeted to you, and you’ll be less likely to buy the products. It’s a really neat project and I hope it becomes commercially available at some point.
Read more at the link.