The result of this election is starting to feel like a hodgepodge of science-fiction films and dystopian young-adult novels. You have the prospect of a walled country dominated by the wealthy—as in Elysium or the Divergent trilogy—and you have groups of political supporters threatening to attack others for their beliefs. Perhaps everyone could just be pitted against each other, Hunger Games-style. As BoingBoing’s Cory Doctorow put it today: “A madman has been given the keys to the surveillance state.”
If you’re worried about living in a country where surveillance and governance are overseen by a man who can barely control his anger when people say his hands are small, then you might want to know how to encrypt and protect your digital communication over the next four, eight, or infinite years. Here are some simple steps to follow if you’re looking to launch the resistance—like The Brotherhood, the Rebel Alliance, or whatever Katniss Everdeen’s group was called—or just want a safe space to talk to friends and family
Most of these recommendations are common sense. However, if you are unfamiliar with the idea of encrypting your communications, and using security best practices, this is a good primer.
Regardless of whoever is in office – Trump, Clinton, Sanders, Cruz – American citizens should take their privacy much more seriously. The more apathetic the country becomes, the more those constitutional protections will be eroded away by a government far too willing to acquiesce to the fantastical threats the intelligence community dreams up to keep their self-licking ice cream cone frozen.
Potent essay in favor of strong encryption even though the US intelligence apparatus would like Americans to believe terrorists use it to hide their communications from law enforcement (demonstrably false in certain circumstances, such as Paris):
People who protect liberty have to take care not to imply, much less acknowledge, that the draconian anti-liberty measures advocated by the surveillance state crowd are justified, tactically or morally, no matter what the circumstances. Someday a terrorist will be known to have used strong encryption, and the right response will be: “Yes, they did, and we still have to protect strong encryption, because weakening it will make things worse.”
Why? Because encryption is actually a straightforward matter, no matter how much fear-mongering law enforcement officials and craven, willfully ignorant politicians spout about the need for a backdoor into protected communications. The choice is genuinely binary, according to an assortment of experts in the field. You can’t tamper this way with strong encryption without making us all less secure, because the bad guys will exploit the vulnerabilities you introduce in the process. This isn’t about security versus privacy; as experts have explained again and again, it’s about security versus security.
Moreover, as current and former law enforcement officials lead a PR parade for the surveillance-industrial complex, pushing again for pervasive surveillance, they ignore not just the practical problems with a “collect it all” regime — it drowns the spies in too much information to vet properly — but also the fundamental violation of liberty that it represents. These powers are always abused, and a society under surveillance all the time is a deadened one, as history amply shows.
Of course we need some surveillance, but in targeted ways. We want government to spy on enemies and criminal suspects, but with the checks and balances of specific judicial approval, not rubber stamps for collect-it-all by courts and Congress. The government already has lots of intrusive tools at its disposal when it wants to know what specific people are doing. But our Constitution has never given the government carte blanche to know everything or force people to testify against themselves, among other limits it establishes on power.