Windows 8: PRISM Edition
Edward Snowden's latest leak reveals that Microsoft has been helping the NSA circumvent encryption for online services like SkyDrive, Outlook.com, and Hotmail.
Microsoft has been promoting its online services heavily, especially since the launch of Windows 8, which integrates web-based file storage and email into the operating system. Microsoft has touted the convenience of storing all of your data on their servers, all while criticizing competitors like Google for violating users' privacy by indexing your searches and emails to target advertising. Meanwhile, Microsoft is encouraging users to switch to hosted services and then handing the contents of your emails and documents over the NSA (which is in turn handing it over to the FBI and the CIA). Those who are worried about getting "Scroogled" should know that getting "Microshafted" is no better.
When you use a proprietary operating system like Windows, you are being funneled into a work flow that makes it easy for the NSA to intercept your communications and access your stored files. And as with all proprietary software, you have no way of knowing what the software you're using is doing with your data; it took an internal leak to discover that Microsoft wrote code to assist secret government surveillance programs. When you use free software, you, or any knowledgeable member of the public, have the ability to look under the hood to see if there is any such code.
The NSA is going to great lengths to scoop up all of our communications independent of suspicion of wrongdoing. Let's not make it any easier for them. It's time to stop trusting your data to companies that are working with the NSA. Here's how you can encourage the NSA to stop watching you:
- Encrypt your emails, using free software encryption and a desktop mail client like Thunderbird. Proprietary encryption that's done on a third-party server will not protect you if that third party is working with the NSA. But if you encrypt your email before it leaves your computer, Outlook.com or Gmail will never have the unencrypted version, so they can't give it to the NSA.
- Switch to GNU/Linux, and stop using Microsoft and Apple products. Proprietary software is bad for your freedom and privacy in many ways, from leaky security to deliberate backdoors for the NSA. With a free software operating system, you have complete control over your computer. Already a GNU/Linux user? Do your part to protect your friends' freedom and privacy by helping them switch. You can take our pledge at UpgradefromWindows8.com.
- Speak up. Join the Stop Watching Us coalition in calling for a full congressional investigation. We deserve to know what else the NSA is collecting about our digital lives, and how.
- Learn more. Visit our PRISM page for a larger list of actions you can take to protect yourself and take a stand against the intelligence-industrial complex.