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EFF Warns That Email Privacy Is In Jeopardy

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the read-comprehend-legislate dept.

Privacy 152

MojoKid writes with this excerpt from HotHardware: "According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a dangerous legal precedent has just been set that can potentially unravel existing federal privacy protections for e-mail and Internet usage. The alert from the EFF is not just to sound a general warning, but it also takes the form of an Amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief, filed with the federal 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, asking for the court's legal finding to be overturned... The findings of this case could become the foundation of a legal precedent upon which other similar cases can subsequently be based. If that were to be the case, then the unauthorized retrieving of e-mails from an e-mail server would not be considered a violation of the federal Wiretap Act, which will then open the door for government-sponsored snooping."

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Privacy? (5, Informative)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536497)

Not to be flippant, but does anyone really believe there is any privacy anymore with simple, unencrypted email? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the EFF is on the case. But it does seem to me that any expectation of privacy in any communication medium here in the USA went out the window with the news of the NSA telco backdoors. Our government is obsessed with spying on everyone, and they have demonstrated quite thoroughly they don't care about the rules at all.

Re:Privacy? (4, Insightful)

BitterOldGUy (1330491) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536509)

I've NEVER considered email to have been private: encrypted or not.

Insult of democracy (1)

LogicallyGenius (916669) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536561)

Insult of peoples will

Re:Privacy? (5, Interesting)

enrevanche (953125) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536599)

By not expecting email to be private means that your email provider is allowed to do anything it wants with the information. It means that the government or anyone who wishes to pay for it should be allowed to have it.

Being "not technically secure" is not the same thing as "not private".

Re:Privacy? (5, Interesting)

BorgDrone (64343) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536729)

By not expecting email to be private means that your email provider is allowed to do anything it wants with the information.

I'm a bit divided about this subject. On the one hand I think that you should be able to expect some privacy in your email conversations. On the other hand I think you're kind of naive to let the privacy of a mail conversation depend solely on the willingness of others to not look at it.

The government, not just the US but any government, cannot be trusted, simply because they're just a bunch of people. The only way to have a reasonable expectancy of privacy is to enforce it yourself by using insane amounts of encryption. e.g. encrypt a message in AES, 3DES, 32768 bit RSA, and ROT13 for good measure, then stenographically encode the message in a photograph. etc. etc.

Laws guaranteeing privacy in email are great, but they don't actually give you 100% certainty that your email will be private.

Re:Privacy? (1, Insightful)

awrowe (1110817) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536865)

The government, not just the US but any government, cannot be trusted, simply because they're just a bunch of people with an agenda.

Fixed that for ya.

Re:Privacy? (3, Insightful)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536877)

Don't all people except for those in a coma have an agenda? Doesn't that make your 'fix' about as informative as saying that water is wet?

Re:Privacy? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24536913)

I've been in a coma and had an agenda you insensitive clod.

Re:Privacy? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537565)

I bet you had a great deal more difficulty fulfilling your agenda than the current US leaders have, though.

Re:Privacy? (1)

Leiterfluid (876193) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537897)

Not just ocean water, but all water is wet.

Re:Privacy? (1)

orasio (188021) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537631)

I don't understand that.
What is so wrong about having an agenda?
Having a hidden agenda _might_ be a bad thing, in a perfectly free society.

I think modern people despite so much politicians that they even renounce to their duty to be political themselves. People are supposed to have political ideas. It's a good thing, not a bad thing.

When people do not have and agenda, they lack depth in their political decisions, and only think day to day stuff, what doesn't seem wise to me.

Re:Privacy? (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537107)

There's no need to encrypt it that far. A single pass with AES256 should be sufficient. There is no reason to believe that there is any organization on Earth (the NSA included) that can break AES.

If you're willing to go to the "insane" methods you talk about, then you're in the sort of inconvenience level where using one time pads would be worthwhile. You can transfer around gigabytes of OTP material relatively easily and securely these days. I mean you can hide one of those 4gb Micro SD cards just about anywhere, resistant even to a strip search. I mean, who's going to check the inside of your pee hole?

Re:Privacy? (1, Flamebait)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537217)

"I mean you can hide one of those 4gb Micro SD cards just about anywhere, resistant even to a strip search. I mean, who's going to check the inside of your pee hole?"

Not to worry citizen, the govt. in all its wisdom and foresight, has thought of this eventuallity, and is currently working on different methods....some are a bit more painful than others, but, you needn't worry about that.

Of course, they will use the proper method based on the situation.

EOM

Re:Privacy? (1)

AngryLlama (611814) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537241)

You have a card reader in your urethra? I want! (The reader, not your urethra.)

Re:Privacy? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537581)

From now on, every border agent in the US.

Thanks.

Re:Privacy? (1)

Beale (676138) | more than 6 years ago | (#24539373)

Of course, this is exactly what you'd say if you were a member of the NSA, and the NSA had broken AES...

Didn't you know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24537613)

ROT13 doesn't work on RSA-ciphered strings.

Noob.

Re:Privacy? (1)

mrogers (85392) | more than 6 years ago | (#24539405)

The only way to have a reasonable expectancy of privacy is to enforce it yourself by using insane amounts of encryption.

Having a reasonable expectation of privacy doesn't mean it's reasonable to expect that nobody will invade your privacy, it means it's reasonable to expect that nobody should. 'Expectation' in this context doesn't mean 'prediction', it means something closer to 'entitlement'. A reasonable expectation is one that most people would recognise, not one that nobody can violate.

Re:Privacy? (4, Insightful)

BitterOldGUy (1330491) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536931)

If I want communication to be private I snail mail, fax, or phone on landline.

Even if the ISP or whomever cannot share or pry into email for whatever reason, what's to prevent someone from accidentally hitting "reply all" or copying their entire address book and sending it out to the world? That's what I meant by my original statement. It's not so much folks prying, it's "accidents" that I'm worried about.

Re:Privacy? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537325)

Well you should, as it is a reasonable expectation.

True, it turned out not to be, but it should have been.

Re:Privacy? (4, Insightful)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536525)

Of course we should take technical precautions, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't stop this through legal action either. It seems like a Sisyphean task at this point, but we have to hold firm to our principles nonetheless.

Re:Privacy? (3, Insightful)

spykemail (983593) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536703)

The idea that any communication involving telecommunication companies in the US is private is quite laughable, however, if there's even going to be the slightest chance of restoring or at least slowing down the rate of erosion of the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy every battle must be fought and thank the matrix we've got the EFF to do it.

Personally I'd sign up for the government spy net - after all, the government doesn't listen to my complaints - if they read everything I write maybe something will sink in.

Re:Privacy? (1)

syntek (1265716) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537341)

Ha! That would be nice. Unfortunately they are only looking for interesting information they can use to build a case against you. They could care less about your opinion since most in the US are to scared of the government to do what is ours by decree of the Bill of Rights(The Right to Petition [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_to_petition [wikipedia.org] ]) although there is this fun little law they added in there. ( http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/usc_sec_18_00002385----000-.html [cornell.edu] [which basically says we can't without consequences])

Re:Privacy? (4, Informative)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536827)

Exactly. How is unencrypted email different to a postcard? Every server along the path has full access (and probably stores a copy for hours to days) to the contents along with the routing information. Due to addressing problems I was receiving CC orders and other confidential emails for some mail order company, for about two months. I had to respond to every one and tell them not to be so stupid.

The problem is that so few people are set up to read encrypted email, that it isn't useful in day to day work.

Re:Privacy? (5, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537211)

How is unencrypted email different to a postcard?

Look, the fact that postcards and most emails are sent in plaintext isn't what this is about.

So far as I'm aware, the United States Post Office doesn't scan, OCR, and store the contents of every postcard that goes through its facilities. If they did, and then made that information available to the government or anyone else that wanted it, you would have a point. In other words, unencrypted does not mean "indexed, cross-indexed and searchable."

Re:Privacy? (3, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537333)

How is unencrypted email different to a postcard?

Differing expectations of privacy.
An intermediate mail server is not a postal worker.

Perhaps most importantly:
Different laws regarding e-mail and postcards.

Re:Privacy? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537345)

Its quite a bit different, and besides the PO isn't supposed to be reading your post card's content anyway.

Besides, this isn't about plain text/or encryption, its about the government getting their hands on your data to use how they please, whenever they feel like it.

Re:Privacy? (1)

syntek (1265716) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537685)

That reminds me of the www.donotreply.com thing. Which oddly enough, I can't get to today.

Encrypted phonecalls? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24537729)

If someone just plugged into the circuit between you and the person you're talking to, they can hear in plain english (assuming language). Does this mean that your phone conversations with your S.O. are not private?

Does it make your conversation to unlock your banking funds not private?

BOLLOCKS.

Neither does plaintext on your email

Re:Privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24537869)

Email is more like a letter in an envelope that one can easily read by holding up to the light than a postcard. Postcards can be read by accident; emails can't.

Re:Privacy? (3, Insightful)

ccady (569355) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536963)

I think you are mistaking the "expectation that you do have privacy" with the "the expectation that you should have privacy."
To me, the "expectation of privacy" says that I am supposed to have privacy, not that I have it.

Problem with the government? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24537007)

So is not the solution to substantially change the government [metagovernment.org] ?

Re:Problem with the government? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24537457)

No: everyone who gives relationship advice always says don't try to change someone else: change yourself. So if you have a problem with the government, maybe you need to look at why you are so socially maladjusted. :)

Re:Problem with the government? (1)

Ghubi (1102775) | more than 6 years ago | (#24538041)

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefor all progress depends on the unreasonable man" - George Bernard Shaw

Re:Problem with the government? (1)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 6 years ago | (#24538847)

So if you have a problem with the government, maybe you need to look at why you are so socially maladjusted.

If the majority of the people chooses a government, which forces people to adjust to its rules, needs and whishes, you could call it a democracy but you couldn't call a free society. I'd rather be free and maladjusted than be a sheep with no principles and opinions of its own.

Re:Privacy? (1)

pxlmusic (1147117) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537071)

it's sad that i'm completely unsurprised by this.

Re:Privacy? (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537315)

While i agree, they do, they still shouldn't be reading it, even if its in open text, without a warrant.

You should be able to expect a certain level of privacy.

Its not just our government btw ( and its debatable if the government is 'ours' anymore anyway.. )

An analogy (5, Insightful)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536515)

Even if breaking in houses is illegal, I still have a lock on my door. Why? Because some people don't care about the law.

Even if snooping on e-mail is illegal, you still need to encrypt your mails. Why? Because some governments don't care about the law.

Re:An analogy (3, Interesting)

rustalot42684 (1055008) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536579)

The problem, for me, at any rate, is twofold:
  1. People with whom I communicate mostly use web-based clients like the GMail client, the Hotmail client, or some university's email site, all of which don't support encryption in an easy-to-use way. Also, at the moment (for several reasons) I happen to be using one of those clients.
  2. Most of the same people don't see why encrypting their emails is neccessary in light of the previous point. Given that it takes a great deal of work do do it, why bother?

Whether I'd like to use encryption or not is irrelevant if those with whom I am communicating do not.

<sarcasm>

Why? Because some governments don't care about the law.

Well, I'm sure you could write them a nice letter asking them if they are illegally syping on you to find out. I see no reason why you wouldn't get an honest answer....

</sarcasm>

Re:An analogy (3, Informative)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536593)

If you think your padlock is keeping the Government away (the guys with aircraft carriers and nukes), you must be crazy.

US Government very much cares about the laws since that's about the ONLY thing that can stop them from doing to you what they do to everybody else. For example, the CIA torture manual advises you to always check the local laws first: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Torture_Manuals#CIA_manuals [wikipedia.org]

Re:An analogy (1)

seyyah (986027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536687)

The conversation so far ...

Daimanta:

Even if breaking in houses is illegal, I still have a lock on my door. Why? Because some people don't care about the law. Even if snooping on e-mail is illegal, you still need to encrypt your mails. Why? Because some governments don't care about the law.

megaditto:

If you think your padlock is keeping the Government away (the guys with aircraft carriers and nukes), you must be crazy.

The key, megaditto, is in the word "analogy". No one is trying to stop aircraft carriers with padlocks. (Or maybe padlock was your analogy for encryption and nukes, an analogy for decryption?)

Re:An analogy (4, Informative)

Firehed (942385) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536899)

Regardless, it's not a very good analogy. It takes considerably more than the technological equivalent of a hacksaw to break a solid encryption scheme.

Re:An analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24537197)

A car battery hooked up to one's genitals will break a solid encryption scheme.

That's all it took for the US-trained death squads in El Salvador where the Constitution didn't apply. Without rights, your encryption means jack.

Re:An analogy (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537225)

Gah, it's an analogy. Burglars will probably break a window, ignoring the lock on your door. Governments will probably try to read the e-mails at the endpoints, that is when they are stored on your or the reciever's pc. Analogies are not supposed to be 1:1 correct, that's why they are analogies.

Re:An analogy (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537227)

All right. How about an industrial cutting laser?

Re:An analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24537505)

All right. How about an industrial cutting laser?

"Do you expect to me to tell you my passphrase?"
"No, Mr. Godwin, I expect you to die!"

Re:An analogy (1)

qwertysledge (1341637) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537459)

The obvious analogy: Wouldn't you consider a hacksaw as taking some measure of brute force?

Re:An analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24537853)

I wouldn't say that. A hacksaw applied to the appropriate part of your anatomy would tend to reveal your encryption keys about as quickly as one might saw through a padlock.

Actually, probably much faster.

Re:An analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24538029)

That's a great point you make. Now, will you please tell this AC how confident you are you're using a solid encryption scheme? For two years people were using Debian's openSSH client -- and I have yet to find a decent review of exactly how deep their flawed PRNG implementation went-- although I have found working exploit code that will take an old SSH session and decrypt it...

Are you absolutely sure that the algorithm you're using has no bugs in it whatsoever? That your dev/urandom has a good entropy source? I'm not even confident that my via padlock hardware has a driver that's working without introducing bias...

Welcome to the New World Order (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24536519)

Thin end of the wedge error.

A)bort, R)etry or B)urst into Tears?

open the door for government-sponsored snooping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24536541)

In the land of the free

IPSec, S/MIME, SSL, SSH, VPN, etc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24536545)

Encrypting the whole Internet wouldn't be a bad idea anyway (not just for the reasons presented here). Each user or at least each computer on the Internet should have a set of keys.

Re:IPSec, S/MIME, SSL, SSH, VPN, etc. (3, Insightful)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537553)

Encrypting the whole Internet wouldn't be a bad idea anyway (not just for the reasons presented here). Each user or at least each computer on the Internet should have a set of keys.

You do realise that it's a matter of time before mandatory backdoor to all encrypted traffic is required by law.

Even worse (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24536573)

IANAL, but as I understand it, this does not just apply to the government. Anyone can snoop without legal liability.

precedents not needed (1)

fractic (1178341) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536585)

If this gets overturned it'll probably be written into law in a few months.

outlook encryption for POP3, SMTP, IMAP usage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24536611)

we keep hearing this but can someone post a simple way to encrypt out emails for those of us using Microsoft Outlook to read and send mail over POP3, IMAP, and SMTP.

Re:outlook encryption for POP3, SMTP, IMAP usage (4, Informative)

ettlz (639203) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536675)

Install Thunderbird, GnuPG and the EnigMail extension.

Re:outlook encryption for POP3, SMTP, IMAP usage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24537207)

To bad no one I know that still uses the outdated email as a means of communication knows how to generate a encryption key let alone how to properly safeguard emails against snooping. I'm all for encryption, plausible deniability and OTR messaging but it's quite useless if no one I need to communicate with uses it.

Re:outlook encryption for POP3, SMTP, IMAP usage (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537569)

Then it's time to start spreading the word.

Re:outlook encryption for POP3, SMTP, IMAP usage (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24537443)

Install Thunderbird, GnuPG and the EnigMail extension.

And get everyone you correspond with to do that as well.

Re:outlook encryption for POP3, SMTP, IMAP usage (1)

devman (1163205) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537875)

Outlook and just about every email client under the sun supports S/MIME. You can get an email certificate from Verisign or one of there competitiors for about $20 bucks for a year. ( there are a lot of CAs these days so choose the best price). The catch is both you and your recipient need certs to encrypt email, however only you need a cert to sign email and have it verified (your recipients email client will verify it for them). Alternatively there is PGP, which is less common and usually requires plug-ins. Thunderbird Enigmail is the most common one for windows if I'm not mistaken. PGP is free but has no third party verification so you need an out of channel way to do a key swap with your recipient who also needs his own PGP key.

Re:outlook encryption for POP3, SMTP, IMAP usage (1)

jeremyp (130771) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536727)

Outlook supports S/MIME.

Yet another reason... (2)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536625)

... to maintain your own mail server.

Re:Yet another reason... (5, Informative)

mccalli (323026) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536641)

... to maintain your own mail server.

And how does maintaining your own email server help? Those outgoing mails are going to somewhere right? And the incoming ones arrived from somewhere? Then they're likely being transmitted in the plain somewhere along the line.

Unless you encrypt the messages themselves, you're on your own. Having your own mailserver, which I do, simply doesn't help with this problem.

Cheers,
Ian

Re:Yet another reason... (2, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537255)

"And how does maintaining your own email server help? Those outgoing mails are going to somewhere right? And the incoming ones arrived from somewhere? Then they're likely being transmitted in the plain somewhere along the line. "

Well, you can also set your email coming to you and going out, to hop through several remailer servers, and a nym server [iusmentis.com] .

Sure you still have a hole on the receiver end if they don't encrypt, but, it sure can make it hard for the govt. to see where you're sending to...or receiving from. If you really want to make it hard...have the nym server send your messages, encrypted to a USENET group...you can retrieve it from there and no one will be able to really trace what you're doing.

Re:Yet another reason... (2, Informative)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537311)

True, running your own mailserver is only half of the solution, but as more people do the same it will become less likely that any 3rd party mail servers will be involved in your email exchanges. Many of my friends have ADSL connections and also run their own private mail servers. In these cases, my exchanges with them are also encrypted.

Re:Yet another reason... (5, Insightful)

Pitawg (85077) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537353)

Grabbing a message from the stream is not that hard. Yes.

Getting access to a pile of email that was sent over the course of days to years, I believe, is a much bigger issue. The stream takes good timing, access and preparation. Access to inbox or other folders of an entire email collection is scary. If the private sign leaves the stored email it will allow providers to do what they will with these email documents in the collections of users. Sending a message to a friend about a need for a product could turn into a barrage of ads for same or competing products. Storing old messages with idle threats with a buddy could turn into law suits. There could be corporate theft of ideas and more. How about getting fired from a job for idle discussions of other things you think about regarding other lines of work or even a competing company. Then there are the criminal cases that could be setup against you for some idle "what-if" messages with a child, friend, or co-worker. Information and insight about an individual could cause all kinds of difficulties in the wrong hands. If I wanted someone to be party to a conversation, I would have sent the message to that party when I wrote it.

Email server ownership is a big help in these times. "Guilty until proven Innocent" is the opponent of privacy laws and practice. I do not have the time to waste proving every little aspect of my life was not a crime just because someone came into a conversation late, reading their own storyline into my existence. As it is now in consumer America, I have to open boxes at the checkout counter just to ensure the actual item purchased is in the box, and not just floor tiles. I also have to call phone and credit companies over charges that were added in error. Do I need to mention the corrections on food from a drive through, even after seeing the list in perfect order on the screen before getting to the window?

Do not add to my itinerary, as it is full.

Just copyright your emails (4, Funny)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536679)

Then let RIAA defend you, (ducks and covers ).

Re:Just copyright your emails (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24537737)

Anything you write is automatically covered by the copyright laws.

I can't believe I'm saying this.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24536717)

We need more spam.

One way to prevent this from being a problem is increasing the volume of email, thereby decreasing the signal:noise ratio beyond what The Powers That Be can handle. To that end, we need research into better and harder-to-filter spam.

Re:I can't believe I'm saying this.... (1)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536749)

Or better still, a plain-text to spam encryption/decryption plugin for our E-mail applications.

Re:I can't believe I'm saying this.... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537239)

Or better still, a plain-text to spam encryption/decryption plugin for our E-mail applications.

"Make ur pen!s bigger in seconds! Satisfy your gf! We have name-brand v!agka on sale cheap!"

Would translate to:

Would you mind stopping off at the store for a loaf of bread on the way home, dear?

Re:I can't believe I'm saying this.... (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537791)

Someone already thought of this.

I love the "fake pgp" option.

Spam Mimic [spammimic.com]

You got it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24536769)

Croatian Bin Laden passwd CDC hackers colonel South Africa insurgency e-cash Bush Wired North Korea offensive information warfare Watergate Manfurov munitions keyhole Sundevil Nazi Cohiba USCOI KGB Israel New World Order asset TELINT AMEMB FSF NORAD crypto anarchy Zachawi

You don't have to spam, just make it your email sig.

just encrypt it (1)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536725)

Any E-mail that you don't want to be seen, you have to encrypt. Otherwise, you can be sure that it will be data mined, analyzed, and keyword spotted.

Re:just encrypt it (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536851)

Exactly. Furthermore, if you want to ensure that the encrypted email doesn't arouse suspicions, you should encrypt all your mail, regardless of how trivial or innocent it seems to be. Besides, you never know when something that seemed innocent could turn up later to bite you in the rear.

HIPAA says no privacy (5, Interesting)

m0s3m8n (1335861) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536731)

Working in the health care field as an IT admin exposes me to lots of HIPAA crap. One thing you learn on day one is that EMAIL IS NOT SECURE. And if it is not secure then considered public. I have no expectation that email is private UNLESS IT IS SECURE. This is why emailing of patient data is forbidden. It would sure make life easier if it were.

Re:HIPAA says no privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24537013)

Nor are letters secure. They can be steamed open. That doesn't make reading other people's letters legal.

Re:HIPAA says no privacy (2, Interesting)

m0s3m8n (1335861) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537611)

Yes, I agree with you, but letters have a chain of custody (sort of). You can't sniff a letter in the mail carrier's bag. You can steal it and later return it after you have steamed it open, but you don't have to even "steam open" email.

Re:HIPAA says no privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24537141)

I would respectfully disagree about HIPAA being crap.

I work in health care as an IT admin, and the problem I have observed is that most management in heathcare (pharma) have a poor understanding HIPAA and CFR 21 Part 11 which exposes me to a lot of crap.

Re:HIPAA says no privacy (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#24538461)

Working in the health care field as an IT admin exposes me to lots of HIPAA crap. One thing you learn on day one is that EMAIL IS NOT SECURE. And if it is not secure then considered public.

I think such generalizations are dangerous. If I send an email to one of my kids, it is sent over an SSL-encrypted link to a private machine. When My kids download it, they do so over an SSL-encrypted session. The email might also be sent onto Gmail. Again, to connection from my mailserver to Gmail is protected by SSL/TLS. Finally, reading emails on Gmail is normally done (by me at least) over an SSL-encrypted session. Why should I not expect these emails to be private?

Unfortunately (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24536735)

Nobody uses encrpyted e-mail really outside internal e-mail systems. I can't just send my friend bob an e-mail using PGP and expect him to be able to decrypt it.

Re:Unfortunately (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24536917)

Hi Alice,

just tell Bob he's not getting any until he learns about encryption.

Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24536765)

Better idea: If you're worried about who might see it, DON'T send it via e-mail!

What are the options? (2, Interesting)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536785)

You can use BetterMail for a secure connection to Gmail, but Google still has all your messages and they're unencrypted when they go out from there. In this case store and forward is not your friend.

You could use a simple encryption tool like this one [fourmilab.ch] . It's a little less difficult than a system that requires a key exchange but it's also less secure. And there's still a decryption process. Copy, paste, type pass phrase, read.

If there's something that's easy to implement and lets you exchange encrypted messages with other email clients that don't support your encryption scheme, then I don't know about it. Far as I know you have to make a decision to encrypt or not every time you send a message. When you're sending to a compatible client you can at least encrypt the body of the message, but as far as I'm aware, that's the state of the art.

Economics (0, Troll)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 6 years ago | (#24536823)

So not only are businesses and tourists stopping going to the USA because of their over the top (and widely meaningless) security, now the US. wants to finish off their economy with people not doing trade altogether with the US. Smart thinking.

Assert your rights (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24537001)

I have discussed this issue with some friends who seem to believe that Obama will reverse the current warrantless surveillance practices. If history is to serve as a guide, it seems clear that he will not. I am convinced that contacting our legislators and voting for Democrats are two of the least effective means of protecting our rights. Indeed, the most effective way of protecting our rights is by asserting them. We as Americans have the responsibility of actively protecting our rights, rather than depending on the ineptitude and conflicted interests of our elected officials. This is why I propose not only opportunistic encryption, but also what I call gratuitous encryption. This means the ubiquitous use and advocacy of PGP, SSH, SSL, VPNs, tor, full disk encryption, and every other tool we have at our disposal.

Check out this page [tamu.edu] for ways to assert your rights.

Thunderbid? (1)

Poorcku (831174) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537221)

Why does Thunderbid not implement encryption from the start I will never understand. A license problem it ain't. They are perpetuating a status quo that is unacceptable.

not a violation of the wiretap law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24537261)

An employee of a firm stole a company property and sold it. Maybe there is a case that it was an evidence obtained through illegal means and therefire inadmissible in court.

compare it to snail mail (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537275)

You have postcards and letters in envelopes.

Unencrypted email is like a postcard. Encryped is like letters in envelopes. So why are people surprised if everybody read their postcards? Encrypting just takes out the content. It does not take out who the sender or reciever is however. And that can be used to extra investigation.

I am sure that when they find out I am mailing to and from Bin Laden, they will be looking closer. If I am however mailing with my lover and I am married, that would be something I might not want to be made public even if that in itself might not be illegal.

Now they go to the ISP to demand that data (normaly with a court order, but there are exceptions, like the USofA). This would mean they won't need a courtorder for that and can nicely lay out connections and networks and gather even more information then you want anybody to have.

Compare it to a phone call (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24537753)

You don't have a voice scrambler on your phone line, do you? Well, it's still considered ***private***.

What goes around ... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24537473)

Time to revive the good 'ole FIDO mail system and BBS technology. This is not such a bad thing though as it is NOT the internet - it's the phone lines. Hmm .... Oh well, so much for freedom. It was nice while it existed.

Still, one can PGP that style of mail easily and it is by today's standards pretty secure in it's travels to and from. The phone company is involved though so look out. Short of floating our own satellites and running the entire thing end to end, there is NO WAY ANYTHING WE DO from this point on is beyond scrutiny or observation, "we" being those that still believe in the Constitution, Bill Of Rights, etc. and they that watch and record are those we think we'd like to avoid.

I work a FL county GIS and in 1998, our aerial maps were good enough that we zoomed down to look in the back of a co-worker's pickup truck and could easily read "Budweiser" on the case of beer in the truck bed. We were told that the military had these same maps but in 4 or 5 stages better resolution! THAT was 10 years ago - now it's LIVE.

I ran a multi-line BBS for 15 years and hubbed mail for FIDO most of that time. The mail "bags" came in, got sorted and went back out. It was true store and forward technology and with today's packer and encryption options, I believe that FIDO could once again offer relatively secure email. It would take a network though and with each added "node" would come potential trouble. Who's to say that hub in New Hampshire is not the FBI? With the right email client software, the playing field could be vastly leveled - are you listening Santos's?? End to end PGP enabled mail times the quantity factor would be REALLYPGP and the hardware that would have to be dedicated to breaking all that mail would be ridiculous. All this could run on old time BBS systems. Imagine this - NO SPAM (yet).

Rx --> Doctor Smith

I'm sure the public would like to take a look at.. (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537503)

.....The emails of various Politician and Corporate government relationships.
And lets not leave out stock market related emails from those in the know.

What is the point of complaining? (0, Flamebait)

st33med (1318589) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537579)

Why do people complain when people's privacy is being invaded by the NSA? It is not like they care about your love life, your favorite recipe, tax returns, etc. They want to keep this nation SAFE from terrorists.

Not just e-mail... (3, Insightful)

Stanislav_J (947290) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537925)

Not to be flippant, but does anyone really believe there is any privacy anymore with simple, unencrypted email?

Does anyone really believe there is any privacy anymore with ANYTHING? Technology, government and law enforcement practices, and the general public indifference are all converging to insure that nothing is hidden. Rant and rave, fight the good fight, but those of us who give a shit are becoming increasingly rare. It's an out of control freight train that can't be stopped -- delayed maybe, diverted to do less damage perhaps, but unstoppable.

The only thing you can do is try to leave as small a footprint as possible. I know damn well that if someone really wanted to find me, or know my business, they could do so. I long ago abandoned any notion of being able to prevent any and all personal, corporate, or governmental snooping. All I can do is use some common sense, do nothing to call attention to myself, and try to make it as difficult as possible so as to not be worth the effort for all but those who are truly determined. And try to avoid doing the things that would make those determined folks want to find me.

Unfortunately, the list of those things gets longer everyday, and all those peculiar interests and eccentric foibles I used to take pride in may now well brand me as "suspicious" and worthy of further scrutiny.

Klingon Proverb (1)

pentalive (449155) | more than 6 years ago | (#24538025)

If you do not wish a thing heard

do not say it.

I wonder though, is a walk in a random park still private enough for some sensitive communications.

Carcarius (1)

Carcarius (989981) | more than 6 years ago | (#24538489)

How much sensitive information is being shared via email anyway? The government can parse every single piece of email transmitted over the net but all they will likely find is false-positives and intel designed to misdirect. Or do they think they can succeed in getting valid intel through reverse psychology. "We are looking at every email over the 'net... or are we? " We no longer live in an age where we have any realistic expectation of privacy. If you want your communications to be private, don't use an inherently public device (the internet) to communicate with.

Works both ways (2, Interesting)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#24538755)

If selling e-mail off of servers is not wiretapping, then its not wiretapping if the e-mail being sold belongs to the government, GOP, or whomever. Even if that e-mail is encrypted, the traffic analysis data is quite valuable. Law enforcement is way behind the game in link analysis. That is: who phones, or e-mails who, when and how often. That data has been gold to marketing departments for years. Undoubtedly, it will be valuable to political competitors, foreign intelligence agencies and others.

It sounds like the door is wide open for a whole new business plan. The "3) ????" just before "4) Profit!" has now been solved.

DIY (1)

Fishbulb (32296) | more than 6 years ago | (#24539019)

Aaaaannndd...
If anyone out there still thinks their libertarian IT-guy-next-door is a bit over-the-top or paranoid for running his own email server in his basement, here's why*!

Time to get an unfettered DSL line with a static IP and setup my own server.

(Actually, time to become an email server configuration consultant)

* - and yes, I RTFA'd and this has to do with slurping email off of a server's storage area and not making a copy of an email being transmitted

Precedant for voice tapping too...a matter of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24539157)

From the EFF brief..."the federal district court ruled that because the emails were stored on the mail server for several milliseconds during transmission, they were not technically "intercepted" under the federal Wiretap Act"

in digital voice transmission, the data is stored in registers for several picoseconds during transmission.

-Duck

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