The US Supreme Court has approved a rule change that if not countered by congressional action (fat chance) will result in the FBI having the right to hack and search any internet connected device running anonymizing software.
This is un-American. The point of being an American, and believing in American Exceptionalism (which I don’t especially), our constitution and the checks and balances of the congress, courts, and executive afford us freedoms and protections unprecedented in world history. We, unlike so many other cultures, don’t have to worry about an overreaching and invasive government.
The truth, though, is far more Orwellian. We are told we are free while our freedoms are continually eroded in the name of protecting our freedoms. We are told that there are those who hate us for our freedoms and then our freedoms are stripped from us in the name of protecting us from those who hate us for our freedoms.
Wanting privacy is not a sign of wrong-doing. I have a house with doors and the walls are opaque. I have doors on my shower and my bathroom. I have a garage door that closes and curtains on my windows. Closing these does mean that I am doing things I don’t want people to see, or, more often, just want to be without the feeling that others are looking at me.
Browsing the internet is no different. In both my day-job and through my interest in Bitcoin, I visit a lot of sites and research a lot of topics I don’t necessarily ascribe to, but do so merely to stay informed. I am not a habitual user of TOR, but have it installed, as well as PGP and a few other privacy-enhancing packages and services. I typically do my searches with Duck Duck Go. All of these things seem as sensible to me as closing my blinds at night and wrapping a towel around myself after a shower. I’ve got nothing especial to hide, but neither do I want everything I do, own and say to be open to the world.
Now, I’m also fully onboard with the notion that the police must be given certain prerogatives and powers in order to do their (essential) job effectively. I do not think that those powers extend to walking into my house or peeking through my windows without very good reason and after following due procedures enacted to protect the innocent (even at the risk of letting a few bad guys get away). I likewise to not acknowledge he right of the government to have full access to everything I do online – a space that has become in recent years as necessary to a full life as a house or other gathering places people go to.
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Using VPNs, TOR, Telegraph, PGP, or any other privacy-enhancing measure is merely me expressing my right as a person to privacy. Police have ample methods other than total surveillance to do their jobs. The notion that simply wanting to have privacy makes me a target for investigation is appalling and must be fought.
Alternatively, I would suggest popping all the doors of all the bathrooms and stalls at the FBI. If they can live with that, then we can give some more consideration to this TOR thing.