Advertisement
Entertainment

A Data Dominatrix Showed Us How Our Online Privacy Is Violated

Mistress Harley says if you don't want to be exposed, don't let your internet browser save your passwords.

by Alison Sinkewicz
Apr 27 2018, 4:45pm

Data dominatrix Mistress Harley. Photo submitted Facebook stock via Shutterstock.

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.

People all over the world have come to data dominatrix Mistress Harley with one wish: to be her online slave.

Mistress Harley, who holds a master’s in library science and information technology and worked for many years in the tech industry, takes over her servants’ entire tech-based life in order to scratch whatever kinky itch they have—humiliation, exposition, crossdressing, or financial domination. This includes but is not limited to: accessing their social media, banking, email, and porn history.

For those without the desire to be exposed online, VICE reached out to Mistress Harley to ask for her insight into how our privacy can be easily violated, and what we can do to protect our online lives. She suggested ways to safeguard your data from sources more sinister than any dungeon dominatrix.

VICE: Say I was coming to you for your services. What kind of preliminary questions would you have? How do you set up boundaries with your clients?
Mistress Harley: If you were going to be one of my submissives, you would approach me and say, "Mistress Harley, I’m really interested in you controlling my data, my computer, or my phone," and we would have a preliminary discussion about what your limits are. Just like any BDSM play, you can’t just choke someone to death, you have to talk to people about what they are looking for.

We would talk about your specific fetishes—what you want to get out of this, and what boundaries you’d like to keep. For example, a lot of people don’t want to be exposed to their friends or family members. Some people actually request that, but that’s specific to a certain kind of fetish. In controlling your technology, I can force you—I’m using air quotes here—to do things. So, if you’re really into cross-dressing, I can force you to only use your computer after you have sent me photos of you in reverse gender wear.

Once I’m inside someone’s computer, immediately the first thing I do is get their saved passwords on their browsers. Almost everyone saves their passwords. "Do you want Chrome or Firefox to remember your Facebook password so you don’t have to do this again?" If you say yes, then you have now compromised your safety, and so it’s really easy for me. And then from there, it’s a simple matter of getting inside your banking, your tax filing, resumes, or LinkedIn.

Can you tell me a bit about some of your current slaves? What are some kinds of domination you are doing now?
Many of my current slaves are under some form of tech control. Some have cameras in their homes so I can monitor them 24/7, others have my parental control app installed on their phones so i can track them via GPS and monitor their app usage, search history, and social media on their phones. Other guys have given me total bank account access so I can control their finances.

Because our lives are so online, it’s almost like you have unprecedented access to work with people’s fetishes from every angle.
I agree. Imagine if you met a dominatrix in a dungeon, and you invited her to come to your office and look through all your files. Our lives are digitized now, people file their taxes online, you can really develop an online life and profile on someone.

Online security is on people’s minds today. If someone was, say, to take the password of their browser, how easy is it to get someone’s password for their social media accounts [from there]?
I mean, it’s really easy. Let’s say you’re not logged onto Facebook when I get on your computer. First, I'll check your saved passwords. If it’s not in your saved passwords, I can find a loophole in your email, you probably had to have reset your password at least once or twice. Then, if I can find out what email is associated with your Facebook it’s a one-two step. Also, there are password retrieval tools, if you haven't saved your password the next time you login, I will get it.

When the Facebook data breach happened, were you concerned about the way that you store your information online? Are these kinds of incidents concerning for you?
You know, it didn’t concern me as much as make me double check all of my data. What I did do—of course I have a personal account that’s private—immediately I removed all of the personally identifying information from that. Quite frankly, Facebook doesn't need to know. Either you know where I went to college or you don’t care where we went to college because we get drunk together. You either know where I went to high school, or you don't give a fuck where I went to high school because we're all adults now.

When these sites are asking for information, also stop and ask why. I also make email addresses that are completely unconnected to my personal life, something like abc@gmail.com, and when I want to login to a stupid app or try a new service, [I] sign up with such an anonymized profile that even if there’s a data breach they can't find [my] information they can’t connect it back to [me].

When you work with your clients, what are some of the stupid things that people keep doing over and over?
The keep saving passwords in their browser. I think the other option is not having any secrets, if you’re totally exposed and you’re comfortable with that then you don’t have anything to hide.

Do you see the new ways that we interact with technology affecting your work?
You know, that’s such an interesting question and something that I think a lot about because we do live in a rapidly evolving world. To me, I do think people have always gone to the internet for access to niche communities that they don’t have access to in real life, and I’m thinking specifically of the fetish community.

I think what I’m noticing is a lot of the guys that serve me, they’re kind of socially isolated—they don't have a lot of in-person friends. They are looking for ways to express their lifestyle that are comfortable for them and not alienating. It’s becoming increasingly normalized for people to feel like their real lives are online. That's such a shift away from our parents—Gen X and the baby boomers. But that allows for such a compromised position. Sex workers have experienced this with the passage of things like FOSTA-SESTA [a recently passed law that implicates online publishers on what content is being posted on their sites. The bill was intended to crackdown on sex trafficking but has lead to restrictions on consensual sex work].

I don’t engage in anything close to prostitution. I’m not even in the same room as people, but a lot of the avenues where these online communities meet are being shut down. So there’s a real vulnerability where people take comfort in the anonymity [online] but they don't realize how vulnerable those connections are, both in government oversight and to hackers and information breaches.

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Follow VICE on Twitter.