• DigitalEnvelopes

last modified August 21, 2013 by strypey

Privacy Not Privatization

One thing that may help people protect their privacy is to use encypted connections between their computer and the online server who tools they are using. Like using envelopes to protect the privacy of mail, it's not foolproof. At worst, it makes the point that we have a right to communicate without being supervised and monitored by the state, ISPs, or anyone else. If the right encyption tools are chosen, accessing your connections becomes harder, and slower.

A number of new email-style interfaces are under development, including BitMessage and MailPile.

Hushmail and ThreadThat have created online services for encrypted communication. However, I think open standards, and free code implementations are the first criteria, as they are the easiest to peer-review. For text chat, using the Jabber/ XMPP standard, with connections protected by SSL (Secure Socket Layer), or the newer TLS (Transport Layer Security) would seem to be a good start. PGP key encryption, or perhaps the lesser-know encryption protocol Off-the-Record would also help.

For voice calls, Skype claims to have encryption, a necessary condition for mass acceptance of its smarmcasting model, where each user's calls are routed through a virtual network consisting of other users. However, this only protects users from each other. It's safer to assume that governments require telecommunications businesses like Skype to put 'back doors' in their system, and give spy agencies and law enforcers the key. What else could be used? In theory, a SIP client could be used, again with SSL and PGP (or possibly Off-the-Record). There is also the voice extension to XMPP, developed by Google for GTalk, but released as an open protocol, and the free code package LibJingle, which also allows for video conferencing, music streaming, and file-sharing. Again, SSL/ TLS and encryption would be a good idea. 

These are just ideas based on some experimentation and a few web searches. I invite anyone with expert knowledge in these areas to contribute to this page.

Privacy Not Privatization