Safety and security are important, especially these days. There are people out there who want to see everyone they don’t personally agree with dead.
There are people who have been fed a diet of lies, extremism and brainwashing ideology and live in a state of such utter hatred and/or despair that they would do anything to see you not just dead, but your entire way of life ended.
And there are things technology can do to help people like that – there are ways to encrypt your communications end-to-end such that only the people whom the message is meant for can understand it. There are ways to hide where the message came from and where it is going such that those sending it can never be pinpointed.
In short, there are ways that you can protect yourself online so that you can never be spied upon by institutions that are large, nebulous, shady, powerful and absolutely capable of murder on a global scale. And whilst these technologies can help extremists cause a lot of damage, these technologies should never be restricted.
The truth is that whenever there has been terrorist activity, use of encryption has never been an obstacle to an honest investigation, and it’s almost always incompetence that has let bad people do bad things, not secrecy.
It all starts to get a bit tinfoil hat when you look into it, but whilst being told that governments had a worldwide, sophisticated, capable spying system online that could ferret out anybody’s and everybody’s private messages, communications, online habits and personal details at the push of a button had at first fueled years of speculation and derision, it turns out that it’s absolutely true.
Governments today not only can spy on you, at any time, without any kind of warrant, due cause or oversight, but absolutely do.
The thing is, I’m not sure accepting this status quo isn’t worse than the alternative, which is to have those very same tools in the hands of anybody who wants or needs them.
Which is what this post is really about: Never let them in.
Never let governments past your security safeguards. Encrypt your communications, take care who you let have your personal information. Don’t click on odd links. Don’t believe Nigerian princes who are offering you fortunes to aid them in their get-rich-quick money laundering schemes and do not, under any circumstances, do not let them change the law making encryption illegal, or to otherwise put in back doors.
That above link is Russia, but I can tell you that absolutely identical laws are being pondered in Britain and the USA. That it’s being pushed through Russia’s backwards, brutal and highly authoritarian sham of a government as well as our own should tell us everything we need to know about it.
Never, ever, trust the government with your privacy. There’s no such person as somebody who has nothing to hide, and despite that, there is one simple truth: If you put in back doors, somebody unwanted will find a way to use it and abuse it.
If you weaken security in the name of some nebulous cause to be a good little greased cog in the wheel, you and everybody else in it can be crushed without mercy by any large mover or rogue element that wants to, because backdoors like this never, ever stay secret or unexploited. And then whoops, when you’ve discovered your government is, oh, I don’t know, spying on innocent citizens on a scale unheard of in history, maybe you won’t be able to protect your hide long enough to blow the whistle and let everybody know just what sort of crimes are being committed before you disappear, or have agreeable soft governments arrange a rape case against you before you can get to a place where they can haul you in to face the death penalty for alerting normal people they’ve been had.
Never let them in. Fight these laws wherever they appear, privacy should be a right, not a privilege of the rich and powerful.