Designers create anti-surveillance clothing – Metro US

Designers create anti-surveillance clothing

Designers create anti-surveillance clothing
Suzanne Waijers

In a world watched over by Big Brother-esque security systems, it can be difficult to maintain your privacy. But a new Dutch brand called KOVR, created by performance artist Marcha Schagen and graphic designer Leon Baauw, offers clothing that makes you electronically invisible.

The anti-surveillance line is made from metalliferous fabric that renders computer chips in your bank and identification cards unreadable and your phone untraceable. The company has already produced prototypes of a bag and coat, as well as sleeves for phones and cards, which could potentially prevent data breaches.

“The majority of people aren’t aware of the true possibilities of surveillance,” Baauw told Metro.

Why have you created this clothing collection?

The project started while researching surveillance systems in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. There are actually many of them, with some being very visible and some hidden. The majority of people aren’t aware of, for instance, microphones in trams that can record your conversation.

We have found out there are chips in everyday products like public transport cards, bank cards, passports and even in clothing labels. They contain information that could be valuable to others and it’s fairly easy to skim, trace or hack. With the help of a simple smartphone, it was possible to read all personal information.

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And you wanted to confront that?

Yes. We found out that it’s possible to block these signals with certain combinations of fabric and started experimenting with materials. After a year we created a functional prototype of a bag and jacket, as well as sleeves for phones and cards. The fabric blocks every incoming and outgoing signal, leaving the user to be in charge of their own data and therefore privacy.

What is the clothing made of?

It’s made of multiple layers of metalliferous fabrics simulating the effect of a Faraday cage, blocking every incoming and outgoing signal. They are actually very lightweight and comfortable to wear. The bag is reinforced with an extra stainless steel frame and the coat has a hood that can be entirely closed.

So those who wear it won’t receive incoming calls?

We are fully aware of the convenience that comes with technological progress. So we created black pockets on both the jacket and bag. They are made of a different, non-metalliferous material, so people will still be reachable by phone.

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Is surveillance such a big problem?

It’s the way we treat and accept it. The majority of people aren’t aware of its true possibilities. All of your data can and possibly will be stored, combined and analyzed. Something you’ve said today, the trip you made last year or what you voted on during the last election might not be of that great importance now, but it could be significant in the future. The huge gathering of delicate information can fall into the wrong hands.

Could this clothing protect you from all types of surveillance?

It will not be able to protect against all types of surveillance. We focused on certain types of data retention that use radio waves found in some chips. We created a line of clothing that protects against these signals. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to cover all the surveillance types within one project.

What’s next?

Currently we’re working on creating a first small batch of coats out of the first prototypes we made. We take things step by step, ensuring that it will go completely according to our plan. We will also keep experimenting, researching and designing products and prototypes.

– By Dmitry Belyaev