Have revelations about the extent of NSA spying changed your internet usage habits?
One of the biggest tech, privacy, and political stories of 2013 has to be whiteseblower Edward Snowden's revelations about the extent of the NSA's ability to spy on both American citizens and foreign nationals, whether they're in the United States or abroad.
New reports that detail the NSA's abilities are seemingly released every day (and probably will be for the foreseeable future -- Snowden was able to snag something like 1.5 million documents before he fled the country). The EFF provides a helpful timeline related to the NSA spying leaks: https://www.eff.org/nsa-spying/timeline
Since it appears that the NSA has access to untold amounts of data (and probably has everything you've done either online or with your mobile phone), have you changed your internet / mobile habits at all? Do these revelations bother you?
I use the internet extensively. I run my business through it, and you could say my life is stored on it (via Google services). Despite my dependence on it, the NSA revelations hasn't changed my usage at all. Don't get me wrong, I'm pissed off. I'm furious about it. But what am I going to do? I'm not going to stop using the internet, I'm not going to give up my phone.
What I am going to do is try to educate all my customers - who look to me for technology education already - as to what's going on. It's the part I can play in removing any elected officials who support this kind of surveillance from office.
Still, I'm not optimistic that anything can be done about it. I'm very pessimistic about government in general these days. I feel like it's only become more stagnant and slow moving, even as societal changes have accelerated, particularly due to technology.
What little hope I have is in this: I often think we're just experiencing the kind of sea change that the industrial revolution brought about. The internet (in conjunction with consumer electronics) is a monumental change to society, and it's going to take a while for us - as a people - to catch up to what's happening. As individuals, I think we can accept change more quickly than we can as a whole. I sincerely hope that we're just seeing the growing pains of a technological revolution, and that eventually we'll work all of this out.
I also am a realist on this one, and am not willing to stop using the internet or particular types of communication because of this. What can you do, live in Amish country? What it has done, though, is make me think long and hard about what providers I use for those services. I am soon going to stop using my Gmail account as my main email address and start using the mail server for my primary domain. I am going to try and move my primary number out of Google Voice and into a competing VOIP service. With recent moves Google has made, I just can't help but wonder if they aren't really some front for one of the government agencies? Sure, they can get my email from my server as well, but at least they will have to work for it. And while this may sound like crazy talk, I am sure anyone that makes that accusation would also have said it was crazy talk to believe the NSA could divert shipment of products in order to bug them before they are delivered to the purchaser. Now they know better.
So, if they want my info, they will get it, but at least there will be blood on their hands for it and I won't be giving it directly to them voluntarily.
My internet behavior is very basic at most. I do little gaming online, and my website surfing is to tech blogs and reviews of items. I do not have an active facebook account, and a G+ that is not being utilized. I just stream shows i missed on hulu or netflix. So no real changes. But I still do no agree with the extent of their spying and encroachment of privacy. Knowledge is power and them knowing everything about you is too much power for unknown faces to handle. If I was to copy any of the actions the NSA committed, I would be definitely convicted of a crime, yet they have been caught multiple times and it is all legal? really?
I've made a few minor changes here and there. For instance, I now use duckduckgo.com which doesn't save your search history or build a profile around you. I've also taken to covering up my smartphone camera and laptop webcam. And any *ahem* private photos I may send, I do through an sftp connection.