Your adversary has a face

Long Read
adversary face

This blog is about our new Twitter bot, called @adversarybot. If you want to follow the account, please do watch the pinned 'Privacy Policy' tweet before you do so.


Everyday at PI we campaign against adversaries to your privacy. Whether it's the social media platforms that you use - or indeed don’t use - trying to learn, deduce and predict everything they can about you; smartphones manufacturers that make cheap handsets bundled with ‘free’ apps that spew your data out to other companies for purposes you don’t know about; the companies and state bodies that investigate asylum seekers’ claims at borders by extracting all of their personal data from their phones; the list goes on and on.

There’s a great irony within all this. While our identities, personalities, political opinions, sexuality and even our moods are available to our adversaries, in turn we know nothing little or nothing about them. Those adversaries that we have actually heard of often obscure their true identities and intentions behind slick PR campaigns.

While Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook assures us that the 'future is private', let's not forget that in 2010 he told us that privacy is no longer a 'social norm'. Which is the true 'face' of Facebook?

So, we are giving those that want to know your identity an identity of their own. We are giving the faceless a face. The face of the ‘Adversary’.

As part of our work in showing the true face(s) of our adversaries, we have created a Twitter bot (@adversarybot). If you follow the bot, it will follow you back and analyse your tweets and give you regular feedback reports with a simple ’sentiment analysis’. It gives a taste of what ‘social media intelligence’ is, as well as hopefully providing a wider warning that while our adversaries take great interest in who we are, it is not necessarily with our interests in mind.

The idea that 'if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear' is in danger of becoming axiomatic. It has permeated into our cultural psyche and emboldened governments to develop ever more sophisticated apparatus to intercept and hack our personal data on a massive scale. But all we really tend to see of GCHQ, NSA and other state surveillance agencies are impressive yet anonymous looking buildings or patriotic emblems. We rarely see the faces of the people who want to know everything about us. 

And while we're on the subject of government surveillance, below we reveal the world's most famous spy's real face.

You will see the Adversary from time to time in our communications. Whenever you do see his face, we hope it will act as  a reminder that while our adversaries want to remain in the shadows, we are facing them down.