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Eluding Government’s Prying Eyes Isn’t Convenient, But Here Are Some Options

June 11, 2013 by  

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nonprofit advocacy group that battles expanded government surveillance and technological infringements on civil liberties, has compiled a list of operating systems, applications and online services for computers and mobile devices. Many of the products listed aren’t exactly household names — but that’s kind of the point.

The EFF has the list up at prism-break.org — a site intended to steer computer users and owners of mobile devices (in other words, everyone) away from the major online providers whose servers the National Security Administration (NSA) has surreptitiously been monitoring, and toward alternatives that, so far as can be known, haven’t been subjected to any secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) orders.

To embrace all the alternative applications on the list will strike many as inconvenient. It’s not practical for many people to switch to the open-source GNU/Linux operating system platform from Apple OS or Windows. Similarly, using and understanding the Tor Web browser comes with a bit of a learning curve for those accustomed to Google Chrome or Apple Safari.

And it’s important to remember that, while embracing the listed applications and services will help to disengage you from the direct access the NSA has to servers at Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Skype, PayPal, AOL and more, it’s not taking you off the communications grid. You’re still using an Internet or cellular service provider, and your device still has a unique identifier that a dedicated techie might be able to decrypt.

But it can make snooping into your online life just a little more inconvenient for the NSA.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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