By John Crockford
Spying on Everyone: Much Ado about Nothing!?!
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF; www.eff.org/), an organization that battles for digital freedom in the courts, has published a guide to protecting yourself against government surveillance. “What Can I Do to Protect Myself” can be found online at http://ssd.eff.org/book/export/html/51. Here’s how the EFF sums up the situation:
“Due to a combination of legal and technical factors, face-to-face conversations and conversations using landline telephones are more secure against government wiretapping than cell phone or Internet communications. Cell phone conversations are more vulnerable both technically and legally, while SMS text messaging appears for now to be very insecure both technically and legally. Cell phones also create the risk of location tracking, and the only way to eliminate that risk entirely is to not carry a cell phone or to remove the battery.
“When it comes to Internet communications, using encryption is the only way to defend against wiretapping, whether by the government or anyone else.
“When it comes to pen/trap taps, on the other hand, most encryption products won’t protect the types of information that the government can get. That information needs to be transmitted in the clear so computers can direct it to the proper recipient. Only anonymizing tools like Tor (https://ssd.eff.org/tech/tor) will protect you from traffic analysis via pen/trap tap.”
The Associated Press (AP) is also weighing in by publishing “Ideas for keeping your data safe from spying” (http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_268744/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=f8zgZnKD). Many newspapers in the United States will use the AP as the source for their articles on this issue.
Chromebooks at the Fresno Library
The Fresno County Public Library (FCPL) now has Chromebook (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromebook) laptop computers available for in-library use. According to the poster on the wall at my local library (unfortunately, the FCPL Web site does not appear to have anything about this service), with a Chromebook one can 1) access the Internet wirelessly; 2) fill out job applications, take tests and engage in online education; 3) create and save documents using Google Docs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Docs); and 4) surf the Web, play games and participate in social networking—just about everything one can do on a laptop.
To check out a Chromebook at the library, one must 1) be an adult 18 or older, 2) have a valid FCPL library card with less than $10 in fines, 3) sign a Laptop Checkout Agreement and 4) agree to a period of two hours. There is a $5/hour fine if it is kept past the two-hour period.
Free eBooks Redux
Last month’s free eBook offer went unclaimed, so I’m repeating the offer this month:
The Crockford Files is giving away a free electronic copy (http://bit.ly/10lT3u2) of Socialists and War: Two Opposing Trends, an excellent book from the Party for Socialism and Liberation. If interested, just send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org with “PSL” in the subject line on Thursday, July 11, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The book will go to the person whose e-mail message (you must have “PSL” in the subject line to be considered) is the fifth to reach my inbox during that time frame. Please include your contact info in the body of the message.
Additional socialist-themed e-books and e-pamphlets (including PSL’s “Marxism 101”) are available free at the Pamphleteer (http://pamphleteer.org/).
John Crockford, a self-described “geek with Luddite sympathies,” is an independent Web site designer and consultant. Contact him at email@example.com or follow the Crockford Files (@crockfordfiles) on Twitter (https://twitter.com/crockfordfiles).