Bloomberg Businessweek
Silicon Valley Google Google Facebook Amazon Lyft Uber Netflix Hulu Spotify Image Credit: Bloomberg Businessweek
Silicon Valley Google Google Facebook Amazon Lyft Uber Netflix Hulu Spotify Image Credit: Bloomberg Businessweek

How To Hide From Silicon Valley

Avoiding digital snoops takes more than throwing money at the problem, but that part can be really fun

Joel Stein

As the spy gear piles up on my desk, my 10-year-old son asks me what my mission is. “I’m hiding,” I whisper, pointing in the direction I think is north, which is something I should probably know as a spy. “From Silicon Valley.”

It isn’t going to be easy. I use Google, Facebook, Amazon, Lyft, Uber, Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify. I have two Amazon Echos, a Google Home, an iPhone, a MacBook Air, a Nest thermostat, a Fitbit, and a Roku. I shared the secrets of my genetic makeup by spitting in one vial for 23andMe, another for an ancestry site affiliated with National Geographic, and a third to test my athletic potential. A few months ago, I was leaving my house in Los Angeles for a hike when I heard my Ring speaker say, “Where are you going, Joel?” in my wife’s voice. She was at a pottery class, but the smart doorbell sent her an alert when it detected me heading outside.

Ryan Calo, an assistant law professor at the University of Washington and an affiliate scholar at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society, says that what my wife knows about my whereabouts is trivial compared with what most of the companies named above know. “In the early days of Nest, some of the employees would try to figure out where another employee was, and they’d look at the network to see if that person was home or not,” he says. Google, which now owns Nest, declined to comment.

If I wanted to regain my priv


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