The Invisible Pirate - Privacy Update

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The eternal value of privacy by Bruce Schneier

'This is the loss of freedom we face when our privacy is taken from us. This is life in former East Germany , or life in Saddam Hussein's Iraq . And it's our future as we allow an ever-intrusive eye into our personal, private lives. Too many wrongly characterize the debate as 'security versus privacy.' The real choice is liberty versus control. Tyranny, whether it arises under threat of foreign physical attack or under constant domestic authoritative scrutiny, is still tyranny. Liberty requires security without intrusion, security plus privacy. Widespread police surveillance is the very definition of a police state. And that's why we should champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide.'

Make free Skype calls with regular phone

I haven't tried this yet, but I would love to hear from anyone who has.

Suit seeks to stop phone records release

"A lawsuit filed'on behalf of author Studs Terkel and other professionals seeks to stop AT&T from giving customer phone records to the National Security Agency without a court order. The plaintiffs, who also include a doctor and a state lawmaker, said they rely on confidentiality in their work and are worried their clients will be less likely to phone them if they think the government collects lists of the numbers they are calling."

Cell-phone tracking

NH rebellion against driver's license regulations ends

Some rebellion; NH caved without a shot being fired. 'Live Free or Die.' Sure.

Hiding in plain sight

While this old tactic worked 20 years ago, today it will land you in jail. You can't outrun networked computer databases.

U.S. defends new Internet wiretap rules

Judges challenge Internet wiretap rules

ISPs reluctant to turn themselves into data honeypots Diana DeGette, the Democrat demanding that ISPs hoard subscriber data for the government, says she is 'horrified' that ISPs aren't supporting her plans. Really.

The snooping goes beyond phone calls

'Buying commercially collected data allows the government to dodge certain privacy rules. The Privacy Act of 1974 restricts how federal agencies may use such information and requires disclosure of what the government is doing with it. But the law applies only when the government is doing the data collecting.'

Hushmail vs. AnonMail (web based secure email)

I used to recommend AnonMail, but if you haven't checked out Hushmail recently, you should. It now offers several advantages over AnonMail, including the ability to send secure email to anyone, anywhere, even without either party having a Hushmail account.

Read this review for a quick update. This is as easy as secure email gets.

Neomailbox Anonymous Surfing

I am currently testing this paid service, with a review to follow. So far, so good.

Q: What is the difference between privacy software you purchase and a stealth service subscription with an annual fee?

A: It depends on what the software you purchased is supposed to do. If you only want to use some proxies, there are many free options available.

The paid stealth service gets you most of what you really want with minimum hassle, but then your vulnerability becomes the service provider's propensity to sing like a canary when the feds come knocking. The best security precautions in the world aren't worth a damn if your service provider is working for the man, officially or otherwise.

U.S. service providers will all spill their guts quickly; the Patriot Act ensures it. Even if you use an SSH tunnel, you are still vulnerable to keyloggers. A hardware keylogger requires physical access to your computer while a software keylogger may not.

Typical users of software keyloggers are: a) suspicious spouses, b) concerned parents, and c) outside threats who penetrate your "security" using a Trojan to install a keylogger. The Trojan method is a favorite since it installs while you are online. With this method your computer appears to operate normally, the keylogger is difficult to detect, and it will not only take screen shots from your computer, it will also send copies of all of your emails to the outside threat without you knowing.

Keyloggers are very effective because they easily bypass all of your security precautions, like passwords, encryption, firewalls, anti-virus, etc. Threats don't have to break any of your world-class encryption if they already have all of your passwords. You may think that you are safe, but the outside threats know better.

If you think that keyloggers are rare, think again. You can download several of them for free in only a few minutes. Restricting physical access to your computer is always a good idea, but once you are online, all bets are off.

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Joe Blow's picture
Columns on STR: 58

Joe Blow is a privacy advocate with proven subspecialties in strategic planning.  Note: Pirate Poop is now a free newsletter, available by email only. Send all subscription requests to