In 2010 Mark Zuckerberg (in)famously announced that “Privacy was no longer the social norm.” That was when Facebook reset (relaxed) the privacy settings for all of their users. So the Internet sat up and took notice when yesterday Mark Zuckerberg said “I believe we should be working towards a world where people can speak privately and live freely knowing that their information will only be seen by who they want to see it.”
If you have started seeing a little red padlock in your Gmail email, don’t freak out, even if the red padlock is open. All that it means is that the sender didn’t use transport layer security (TLS) when sending it – in other words, it simply means that the email was not encrypted when it was sent.
Both the Federal Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee heard today from FBI Director James Comey, and from Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates, that they need a backdoor (or a “front door”, as Comey calls it) that allows them to decrypt encrypted email and messages in order to fight terrorism.
Want a truly encrypted email program? If you are among those who worry about nosy agencies and others reading their email, you will appreciate Proton Mail, “End-to-end encrypted email, based in Switzerland.”
A Federal court ruling this week by Judge Robert Blackburn, of Peyton, Colorado, says that you can be ordered by the court to provide the password to decrypt encrypted data, or face contempt of court, and that being forced to reveal your passphrase does not violate the Fifth Amendment (the 5th Amendent includes, among other things, the right against self-incrimination). In the ruling, Judge Blackburn ordered Ramona Fricosu, whose laptop hard drive is encrypted with PGP, and who is charged with taking part in a mortgage scam, including charges of wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering, to decrypt her hard drive or face, among other sanctions, contempt of court.
According to government officials and insiders, the Federal government is seeking broad authority and discretion to monitor all Internet communications, including communications on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, instant messaging systems, and even (or hey, perhaps especially) encrypted emails.
If Sebastian Boucher thought that encryping the data on his hard drive would protect him from prying eyes, he may have been right. But if the Derry, New Hampshire resident, who is originally from Canada, thought that it would protect his 5th Amendment right against self incrimination, he may have another think coming.
Under a law which takes effect next week, Nevada businesses must start encrypting their email, or face a penalty.