A new era of digital privacy?

The US government’s over-reaching intrusions into the digital privacy of its citizens, most evident in the Snowden leaks, seems to be a great example of pushing past the breaking point.  Users were generally aware of, and tolerated, some minor level of spying, but once the full extent was made known, companies across the globe are scrambling to provide better security.  Apple and Google are now both working to make their mobile operating systems as secure as secure and encrypted as possible.  The result is that the government is going to have a harder time spying on people, and the director the FBI is going public with his concerns that the use of encryption has ‘gone too far’.  Here’s a recent interview on 60 minutes, or read more at AppleInsider.

Well it’s their own darn fault, you know.  They abused the trust people had in government, now the pendulum swings the other way and we seize back our privacy.

14597b63f56a0d2908cfc1275cef6fe1_largeThe Anonabox is a new project launching on Kickstarter (funding closes on 11/11)., that helps make it easier for people to use the internet anonymously.  It’s a small router, that sends all data over the Tor network, and costs $51.  Users still need to be careful about their own computer though…cookies in your browser leave a trail of virtual breadcrumbs that can be analyzed (requires access to your computer though) – but private session browsing, or using the Tor browser, can help protect against that.  I like the idea of this product…if installed upstream of your current router, it can protect all data traveling outside of your own personal network, with no software installation required on each device on your network.  Just plug and play.  Read more at the Kickstarter page, or at Wired.

iCloak Stik – portable online anonymity tool

2e245a5325c4cff073637ca24910227b_largeThe iCloak Stik is a promised to be a portable anonymity tool, turning any computer into a private, safe, and untrackable way of accessing the internet.  It’s basically just software on a USB flash drive that boots when you reboot your 64-bit Windows or Mac computer, and promises to completely mask your IP address (using TOR or I2P), let you choose what country you’d like to appear to be surfing the ‘net from, creates a random MAC address for your computer (the physical ID of your network interface circuit), browse anonymously, wipe all trace of your online activity, prevent malware/spyware infections, and encrypt usernames and passwords.  Oh, and you can store files on the USB stick too (but I don’t think these get encrypted).  It’s really like booting into a separate, scaled-down OS – you won’t be using your normal computer apps.

In case you haven’t been following the news, it turns out the NSA has been spying on Americans regardless of whether or not they’re suspected of doing anything wrong.  The latest Snowden leak showed that of 160,000 intercepted messages, only 10% were from official targets.  Devices like the iCloak are targeted at people who view this as a violation of their freedoms and fourth amendment rights.  Of course, note that with Kickstarter, the names and cities of all backers is public information…so I wouldn’t be surprised that if you choose to be a backer, you’ll end up on an NSA watchlist somewhere.  Paranoid?  Not really.  People who followed links to articles on Boing Boing about Tor and Tails ended up on such a list.  Still, I figure by even writing about the iCloak I’ll get on that list…so I might as well buy an iCloak while I’m at it!

You can check out their Kickstarter page here.

The never-ending NSA scandal

300px-Ingsoc_logo_from_1984.svgThanks to Edward Snowden, the NSA revelations keep hitting us…and it’s like some Hollywood movie plot.  The latest have been that the RSA installed backdoors into its encryption software for the NSA, and now comes word that the NSA sometimes intercepts shipments of new laptop computers to install spyware on them.  I do wonder if all these revelations are true or not, but the reality is that enough of them seem to be true, that the one truth is we cannot trust the NSA to be honest with us.  That, and US laws that restrict people from discussing these issues, mean the truth is difficult, or even impossible to discern.  For a supposedly free society, that’s a big concern.

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