Thoughts on Encryption and Privacy…

  1. FACT ONE: There is increasing invasion of privacy by governments. There is no denying that the surveillance of the public is at an all time high in Europe and America at the moment. In London we find ourselves routinely watched everywhere we go by closed-circuit cameras everywhere we go. In fact in Central London, the Big Brother TV show is advertising itself by putting up stickers pointing towards cameras. They cover the city like a blanket. The same is true on the net. Projects like the intimated Echelon and the FBI’s Carnivore program are designed to search through all e-mails and track certain words like “KILL PRESIDENT CLINTON, DAMMIT”. The functionality of such machines however is prone to abuse. Because you have to scan every e-mail that goes through, without the slightest evidence that the person who writes the message has committed any kind of crime, everyone’s privacy is invaded.
  2. FACT TWO: Computer power and technology is improving the ability to track and collate information. It makes sense that the programs that discern whether or not an e-mail is from a terrorist will improve in time, but all this means is that individual types of people will be easier to track. And as computer power increases as well, we could be getting to the stage where a search placed could produce a list approximating every active gay or black person in a certain area of the world. Look out for words like Popstarz and Old Compton Street. All this really means of course is that if someone wants to find out about you in intricate detail they will be able to. Of course, there has to be some good reason to want to, doesn’t there? Doesn’t there?
  3. FACT THREE: Encryption is the best chance for private communication. If you want something private kept private, the best option is to encrypt it. However problems arise through this as well. While most e-mails are not (for example) PGP encrypted, the people who do decide to encrypt will be immediately noticeable through the same keyword searching process (in this case, PGP would probably do it). Suddenly all people who wish their correspondence kept private are marked as exactly the kind of people who probably shouldn’t want to.

All of which leads me to this conclusion: It’s only if we routinely encrypt our trivial e-mail that we have the slightest chance of maintaining the privacy of our lives. Enough encrypted trivial e-mail should swamp the stuff that needs to be completely private amongst a wash of personal correspondence. I urge you all now. Get PGP now and send me a message to