All emails from anyone within the United States are stored by the NSA and other US government spy agencies for later retrieval if you “somehow” become a person of interest, says William Binney, former NSA crypto-mathematician. This blanket surveillance will allow government agencies to construct a scaringly accurate picture of your life from around 2002 forward.
If you think you are safe because you don’t live in the US, think again. As much of the world’s Internet traffic is routed through the US, it is likely that your information is saved as well. Australians apparently have their own government surveillance issues as reported by RT. Within 1 year data access requests have increased by 20% and it seems that anyone working within the government has easy access.
The official justification, of course, is to increase public safety. It is true, criminals are using the same communications channels as everyone else; however, that has always been the case. To prevent abuse and to protect citizen’s privacy courts limited access to people’s private information to individuals suspected of wrong doing, requiring warrants or similar.
The real problem today is that it is cheaper for governments to indiscriminately collect all data than limiting their surveillance to only “persons of interest”. While this is an obvious violation of existing privacy laws, the political and judicial processes are slow to catch up or blatantly undermined to prevent any correction from happening, as in the US.
What’s missing is public outrage over the blanket surveillance practiced in most western countries today. Many citizens seem unconcerned about the violations of their rights, most likely because they are unaware of what’s happening or indifferent to the consequences. Until privacy issues are openly addressed and resolved it is up to each of us to ensure our personal communication remains, well, personal. Here are a few easy steps you can take to increase your privacy:
- Use a VPN whenever you go online.
- Encrypt all communications.
- Host email and websites in jurisdictions that have strong privacy protections.
- Choose strong passwords and pass phrases.
- Encrypt your hard drive and backups.
- Lock your mobile devices when not in use.
Image Credit: rpongsaj