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Encryption no protection from government surveillance

Taylor Armerding | July 16, 2013
Microsoft, Skype and other online service providers regularly tell their customers that customer privacy is "our priority." Perhaps they should add a disclaimer, that orders from the federal government seeking surveillance of those customers are a higher priority.

"The government can still demand the information," he said, "but they have to come knocking on your door to do it, so at least you'll know."

Herold said it would be difficult to stop using Microsoft, "if your systems are all from Microsoft and all your applications you need to use run on Windows. However, this does point to the need to consider using security and privacy add-on products that come from other vendors instead of using the security and privacy tools embedded within Microsoft systems."

Trevor Timm said there are ways for individuals to make it more difficult for the government, through the use of online anonymity services like Tor and PGP encryption. But he said they can be "cumbersome and very user unfriendly."

"The answer is to require the NSA to allow people to have real privacy," he said.


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