As the dubious provisions of the PATRIOT Act expired last night at midnight, the NSA began rolling up its cords, turned off their computer monitors and took to rewriting their resumes to find new work. Oh wait, sorry, that didn't happen at all.
No surveillance sites have been shut down, no NSA employees have been laid off, and business as usual went off without a hitch this morning.
If the government has proven anything over the last decade and a half, it's that they are not afraid of lying. Assange, Manning, and Snowden have all exposed illegal functions of the US government that we were told never existed.
The bottom line is that short of a radical change in the US government, domestic spying will continue; regardless of the public dog and pony shows implying otherwise.
More and more Americans realize the need to keep their information private and companies are responding to this demand.
Last year Google and Apple responded to this demand by offering their customers encryption technology that protects users’ privacy. The next big name to jump on the bandwagon of encryption is the social media giant, Facebook.
Monday morning, Facebook announced its own encryption service. According to the Facebook announcement:
To enhance the privacy of this email content, today we are gradually rolling out an experimental new feature that enables people to add OpenPGPpublic keys to their profile; these keys can be used to "end-to-end" encrypt notification emails sent from Facebook to your preferred email accounts. People may also choose to share OpenPGP keys from their profile, with or without enabling encrypted notifications.
PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy. It's actually very good privacy. If used correctly, it can protect the contents of your messages, text, and even files from being understood even by well-funded government surveillance programs.
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Naturally, the government who just said they will stop spying on Americans, is up in arms because this new encryption won't let them spy on Americans.
According to Business Insider, law enforcement is unhappy with these moves.
This hardened stance is frustrating law enforcement, who fear they will lose access to vital evidence. When Apple announced it would implement strong encryption on its iOS mobile operating system, for example, one senior US police officer claimed the iPhone "will become the phone of choice for the pedophile." But Apple argues that it is imperative that it protects users' privacy, with CEO Tim Cook saying the company has "never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services... And we never will."
Since the inception of personal data encryption, the government has been trying to force companies to build back doors into the systems to allow the state to spy.
However, Vint Cerf, known as one of the "co-founders of the internet" explains the dangers in such a program. “If you have a back door, somebody will find it, and that somebody may be a bad guy or bad guys, and they will intentionally abuse their access,” said Cerf.
“Creating this kind of technology is super-, super-risky,” he added. “I don’t think that that’s the right answer.”
The need to encrypt personal data grows daily as entire countries provide refuge to criminal hackers out to steal your identity. Attempting to stifle actual security by implementing known vulnerabilities is a terrible idea.
The US government can't even keep their own data secure. They proved this notion last month when hackers hit the IRS to gain information on 100,000 taxpayers. Now they want to stop private companies from trying prevent similar data breaches? This is an asinine and dangerous approach.
This move by Facebook to secure its users' data should be supported. Technology is our shield from those who wish to do us harm, and from tyranny. It's time we embrace it and foster these ideas that protect privacy.
Share this article with your friends and family to get them on board with encrypting and protecting their privacy.