Edward Snowden’s exposure of the illegal mass surveillance of basically everybody conducted by the NSA and GCHQ, has and is still causing international political fallout. Hijacking diplomatic flights and using anti-terror legislation to intimidate journalists, aren’t doing much to help matters.

Glyn Moody suggests that, given the widespread abuse of communication technology by the security services, campaigning to get everyone online may not be such a good idea.

Here’s my response:

People shouldn’t necessarily throw away an entire technology just because a few (thousand) bad apples abuse it. As technologists, what this means is that we need to build in safeguards (encryption, obfuscation, anonymous routing etc etc) which make such abuses impossible in the future.

This is already starting to happen (almost every other post on Hacker news these days is some new product that solves one part of the puzzle).

Everyone can do something:

Joe User can do some simple things – install the EFF’s HTTPS Everywhere plugin, and use email encryption (if we can make encryption ubiquitous then we make the PRISM/Tempora kind of abuse much much harder).

Network admins can do things like move their DNS over to OpenNIC (a drop in replacement domain name system run by volunteers outside of government control, often without any logging of queries) and use DNSCrypt to encrypt lookups.

Coders can look at throwing their weight behind an open source project – perhaps add encryption support to their favourite mail client (or make the UX easier), or take a look around at some of the decentralisation projects going on (particularly worth looking at the #indiewebcamp community).

Basically, we need more engagement, not less. Decisions are made by those who show up, and as Tesco put it, “Every little helps” :)

What are your thoughts?

“The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” John Gilmore, Time Magazine 6th December 1993

This quote – made almost 16 years ago – sums up in a nutshell why I love the internet sometimes.

As is obvious from the ongoing events this morning that the law firm Carter-Ruck didn’t really understand just how badly it was going to shoot itself in the foot when it gagged the Guardian newspaper in an attempt to prevent them reporting on open questions asked in parliament.

These questions referred to the Minton Report regarding illegal toxic waste dumping.

I guess we should really thank them, because had they not done I wouldn’t have this delicious feeling of schadenfreude as thousands of people find out about their client Trafigura illegally dumping toxic waste off the Ivory Coast, in possibly the largest toxic waste scandal of the 21st century.

The story broke this morning, and has been widely circulated around blogs and twitter, passed around like a note in a giant electronic classroom (Interestingly, at time of writing at least, the BBC have not picked up the story. Make of that what you will).

The internet is people (as my esteemed friend says so often), and when people are connected secrets become much harder to keep, and cover-ups much harder to orchestrate.

People power ftw.

Update: The gag order on the Guardian has been lifted shortly before they were due to appear in the high court.

Could the shitestorm generated could possibly have something to do with it..?

or maybe not.