Today, I sit and think about all the recent revelations related to the NSA spying scandal and I see that a couple of email providers, Lavabit and SilentCircle, have decided to shut themselves down. This is a shame. They have provided a necessary service to the world community. Lavabit’s statement that they had hit the wall legally and were unable to express their very real frustration with the issue is taken to mean that they’ve been served with an NSL.
SilentCircle’s statement that they saw the “writing on the wall” and thought it would be better to shut down now is disheartening. I do however understand their reasoning. No one wants to go up against the national government apparatus. It’s expensive and there’s always the risk of unending, unlawful detention.
The USA that I live in is not the USA that I grew up in. We were never terrorized by our own government, by over greedy corporations, and by the never ending 24/7 news media that can’t seem to understand the difference between sensationalism and news.
I’m sincerely sad, upset and truly pissed off. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve tried to vote for people that I think are going to change things, but they seem to fall prey to the same influences as the rest. It’s not possible to actually get someone in office that seems to be able to stand up and refuse to accept the money from various companies and organizations that are trying their best to subvert the original laws of the land.
What should we do now?
Here’s my suggestion. I’m going to make it my mission to teach my parents, sister and all the family how to secure their email. I’m going to show them gpg4win, install it on their machines and set them up with a pass-phrase. That’s the only thing I can do. Maybe you need to do it as well. If you have the ability to show people how to do something, then you should do it.
I’m also going to start making it more of a point with my friends and colleagues to request and insist upon using secure email. It’s not just for home use. Businesses should be more than happy to start teaching their employees about how to secure the email they send. Although I know a number of businesses that would cringe at giving their employees the power to send email that they can’t read.
I’ll get you started. Go find gpg4win, and be smart, download the light version. kleopatra is a pain in the ass to deal with. then go download Thunderbird. then go get enigmail, as a Thunderbird add-on. It’s pretty self explanatory, but I will go over this in a future post. hopefully very soon.
Start protecting yourself now. The more people do it, the less it will make it seem like you have something to hide when someone tries to find out the “secrets” you’re emailing. I’ve used the analogy before, but encryption is just putting an envelope around your email, and everyone in the USPS reads postcards. Trust me. I used to work for them, and I know they do, no matter how much they deny it.
In the end will this help? Will it change the way things are now? I honestly don’t know. It’s a start. Maybe we can turn this beast around or behead it in a future election. It’s sad that we have to look at our own government, the one that used to be a shining beacon to the rest of the world, with jaded eyes.
Time will tell if the apathy that pervades the country will allow this to continue or if they will once more begin to take part in the governance of themselves, instead of relying on everyone else to do the job because it’s too much effort. I’m going to do what I can, but in the end it’s up to you to try and do the same.
I invite constructive commentary and dissenting opinions, but ranting, ad hominem attacks (if you don’t know what that is, don’t bother commenting.) and party line politics have no place in this discussion.