Saying so long to telephone, other snooping by the fedsTired of the National Security Agency collecting your personal details? There’s an app for that.
In light of reports that the U.S. government has gained direct access to the systems operating Google, Facebook and Apple, the fact the National Security Agency is mining billions of Verizon telephone records for details, and God only knows what those pesky new drones are doing, advice on how to beat Big Brother is starting to appear.
Political reporter Alex Pappas at the Daily Caller cited a product that has been released by developers in South Africa.
The product called Seecrypt is purportedly able to block the connections that otherwise would allow the NSA to look at your phone records and find out the details of your calls.
“For the app to work, both people wanting to text or call each other must have the application,” the report said. “But when the application is used, the phone company will not know the identity or phone number of the other person on the line. It will only know that the caller used Seecrypt.”
“Creating a scalable encrypted voice-over-data application that can operate with minimal latency anywhere in the world is not easy,” said Normay Walters, co-founder of the company. “Seecrypt met and surpassed this challenge by using a set of proprietary protocols and a carrier grade back-end infrastructure that operates on a privately controlled and globally deployed network.”
The news about the U.S. government’s intrusion into the privacy of citizens just keeps surging. Most recently, there are reports that the NSA and FBI simply are tapping into the central services of nine leading Internet companies to gain access to audio, video, texts, emails and documents.
The Washington Post reported the government was working directly from servers for Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple, Microsoft and Yahoo.
So distressing are the revelations about the massive attack on privacy that left-leaning pundits are abandoning Barack Obama and analysts are saying his second-term agenda is dead in the water because of the developments.
But is there anything else that can help besides an app?
The authors at Wired.com have some advice.
“There are ways to keep your correspondence off the grid,” they advise.
For example, for telephone communications, get a throw-away phone, they said.
“Clearly you can’t use your own phone, given that the government already is compiling metadata on who you call and how often. To limit the chance of being spied upon while making calls on the go you need to invest in a ‘burner’ phone (so named because such phones are used for a brief period of time, then tossed away like stale pizza).”
The report by Robert Baldwin said even better, buy a disposable phone with cash.
“Of course, the person you’re calling also needs a burner phone. What’s the point of using an anonymous phone if the person you’re calling is still using their potentially tapped personal phone?”
For email, the report recommends Tor.
This is not the burly guy with the big hammer in the movies; it’s a “free software and an open network that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy.”
Wired reported, “Tor was developed by the U.S. Navy to help protect government communications. The service creates a network of virtual tunnels that ISPs and other more nefarious organizations can’t track. Just download the Tor browser and start emailing.”
Another word of caution, “Don’t open any documents, enable any Flash or Quicktime files, or enable or install any browser plugins while using Tor.”
For instant messaging?
“Google, AIM, Yahoo and Skype may do a good job securing your chats, but when the NSA comes to the door with a warrant, all your communications are available for scrutiny. Instead of letting Big Brother read all your LOLs, OMGs, and WTFs, you need to start using OTR (off the record) messaging. Such messages are encrypted so they can’t actually be read if they’re intercepted or pulled with a subpoena.”
Recommended was the OTR messaging site.
“Yeah, you might need a degree in computer science to get up and running, but if private IMs are important to you, you won’t mind …”
In person confidentiality a concern? The recommendation is to bathe a location in white noise, like from running water.