For some at the Cleveland National Republican Convention, the maintenance accessory of choice was an AR-15 slung haphazardly over the shoulder. For Los Angeles-based artist and activist Tim Schwartz, it’s a discreet pouch made of matte silver ripstop that holds his phone.
Cell Phone Jammers Block a continuation signal from cell phone recovery — a feature that Schwartz says is essential in unpredictable political events like the Republican National Convention. “I think it’s wise for everyone to protect themselves when they don’t know what’s going to happen,” Schwartz said. “You can easily open and close the phone,” he noted. In the event of an interruption, it can even be used retroactively. This information: “The government may request records and indicate that you are in the region when the results are presented.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to civil liberties in the digital world, advises protesters that while their phones are weak tools for recording photos and videos, they also contain a lot of personal information, including contacts, status and audio history , email and public credentials. “Our lives depend on our equipment,” Schwartz said.
These high-frequency barrier bags (called Faraday cages) were easily used by a powerful group of people that Schwartz called “the tech elite.” Schwartz, following instructions from Berlin-based artist Aram Bartholl, held “office hours” for protesters at the Cleveland Space Museum, where he sewed his own signal-blocking phone cases. Meetings will be held tomorrow (July 19) and today from 1-4pm.
Schwartz said it’s a protection that non-protesters can also think about. “As if the password was too long,” he said. “It’s one of the things we should do, but we’ll never be able to.” Schwartz provided the protesters with copper taffeta fabric, a sewing machine and Suggest. He said his eighth-grade sewing housekeeping training was perfect for the task, noting that the most important step was making sure all the edges of the bag were folded and secured. This is illustrated on Aram Bartholl’s “Kill Your Phone” website. Information can be found on lessemf.com:
Cut 12cm strips from the anti-roll plush. Make 50 x 12 cm pieces and pack each piece into a bag. (That is, you lose 2 rolls 1 m long.) Fold the 50 x 12 cm sections to 25 x 12 cm, fold the long sides again, 1 cm on each side, and pin them in place. Sew two straight seams left and right. Fold up to 2 times! Find a paper clip or paper clip to close the bag. Completed! Schwartz previously developed a cell phone jammer tool for victims of the Haiti earthquake that could find missing family members in 2010. He then “fell into the digital privacy quandary” and worked with Fordham Law School’s Center for Legal and Information Policy (CLIP) on online privacy and coordination with Ping An.
In recent years, Schwartz has given workshops on digital data protection, such as “How to Be a Whistleblower,” at schools such as CalArts and UCLA, in part in collaboration with the web-based data protection movement Cryptoparty. For the rest of the month, he will continue his assignment as an artist-in-residence at Spaces, where he will hold events such as “dark web treasure hunts” to help people understand more about digital privacy.