The degree of governmental spying against its own citizens has become so severe that both Google and Apple, are planning to sell all their smartphones with data encryption enabled.
Before this policy change, Apple allowed governmental agencies and law enforcement personnel access to encrypted data with a search warrant.
FBI director James Comey strongly disagrees with the right to encrypt, and urged congress to update The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), forbidding tech companies from closing privacy back doors on their products.
Comey told Wall Street Journal reporters, “What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law.”
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), responded by proposing The Secure Data Act. This bill would prohibit the government from demanding electronics manufacturers create backdoors and security vulnerabilities into U.S. software and electronics.
Senator Wyden had this to say about it on his official website:
“Strong encryption and sound computer security is the best way to keep Americans’ data safe from hackers and foreign threats. It is the best way to protect our constitutional rights at a time when a person’s whole life can often be found on his or her smartphone. And strong computer security can rebuild consumer trust that has been shaken by years of misstatements by intelligence agencies about mass surveillance of Americans. This bill sends a message to leaders of those agencies to stop recklessly pushing for new ways to vacuum up Americans’ private information, and instead put that effort into rebuilding public trust.”
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) December 4, 2014
Another group of technology experts have banded together creating a project called Let’s Encrypt. This initiative aims to encrypt half of the Internet using Secure Socket Layer’s (SSL) successor, Transport Layer Security (TSL). This would make massive digital eavesdropping projects like the NSA’s Planning Tool for Resource Integration, Synchronization, and Management (PRISM) useless until they were able to defeat the encryption protocols, which are likely to be constantly updated. This represents a new cat and mouse game between encryption experts and governmental code breakers.
According to information Edward Snowden allegedly leaked to German newspaper Der Spiegel, the NSA has difficulties defeating Zoho email and chat services which employ end-to-end encryption. Tor’s anonmyzing network was also hard for them to determine who was saying what and from where.
Snowden’s leaking of the size and scope of governmental spying programs has pushed people and companies to encrypt their data. Electronic Freedom Foundation has a page dedicated to Encrypt the Web. This site provides an infographic showing which companies are employing what kinds of security measure meant to make data more difficult to snoop on, steal, copy, or otherwise be examined by anyone other than who it’s intended for.
Electronic Freedom Foundation has also launched a website dedicated to Surveillance Self-Defense. This websites outlines how users can protect themselves, providing multiples options and avenues depending on operating systems and a users degree of tech savviness.