Open Buddha

Open Source Buddhism, Technology, and Geekery
Bay Area, California

Time to Go to Encrypted Mail, Folks.

I’m going to start generating keys and switching my communication options to include encrypted mail via my public key. I’ll be putting them up on Arcanology.com and posting the key here when I do so.

At that point, you should feel free to e-mail me using this key. I’ll post software suggestions for people on how to easily do this using Mozilla Thunderbird and free, open source tools. If it is something innocuous like “Did you feed the cat?”, I don’t care if it is in the clear but I want to move to meaningful e-mail done via encryption.

This is obviously a pain in the ass and a lot of trouble. Why would I take this step? The answer is that the surveillance state on the Internet in America is likely becoming a permanent feature. I don’t really like the idea of some federal agent in Homeland Security reading my e-mail either. I’m a citizen and have never been convicted of any crimes. This is not how a free society should be run.

Here is the news story of the day around this from Threat Level:

Analysis: New Law Gives Government Six Months to Turn Internet and Phone Systems into Permanent Spying Architecture

By Ryan Singel

A new law expanding the government's spying powers gives the Bush Administration a six-month window to install possibly permanent back doors in the nation's communication networks. The legislation was passed hurriedly by Congress over the weekend and signed into law Sunday by President Bush. The bill, known as the Protect America Act, removes the prohibition on warrantless spying on Americans abroad and gives the government wide powers to order communication service providers such as cell phone companies and ISPs to make their networks available to government eavesdroppers. The Administration pushed for passage of the changes to close what it called a "surveillance gap," referring to a long-standing feature of the nation's surveillance laws that required the government to get court approval to capture communications inside the United States. While the nation's spy laws have been continually loosened since 9/11, the Administration never pushed for the right to tap the nation's domestic communication networks until a secret court recently struck down a key pillar of the government's secret spying program. The Administration argues that the world's communication networks now route many foreign to foreign calls and emails through switches in the United States. Prior to the law's passage, the nation's spy agencies, such as the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, didn't need any court approval to spy on foreigners so long as the wiretaps were outside the United States. Now, those agencies are free to order services like Skype, cell phone companies and arguably even search engines to comply with secret spy orders to create back doors in domestic communication networks for the nation's spooks. While it's unclear whether the wiretapping can be used for domestic purposes, the law only requires that the programs that give rise to such orders have a "significant purpose" of foreign intelligence gathering. [...] In short, the law gives the Administration the power to order the nation's communication service providers -- which range from Gmail, AOL IM, Twitter, Skype, traditional phone companies, ISPs, internet backbone providers, Federal Express, and social networks -- to create possibly permanent spying outposts for the federal government.