Privacy Blog

"Friends don’t let friends get spied on.' – Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation and longtime advocate of privacy in technology.

Value Your Privacy? Your Current Email or Chat Provider Has Access to Your Conversations

I suspect you already take security precautions. You lock the front door of your house. You lock your car doors when you park. You put a password on your cell phone and you make sure no one is looking over your shoulder while you compose emails and texts. Those are all good policies… but incomplete.

The apps, emails and chats you use on a daily basis are already spying on you, and in many cases even sharing your “private” data with other people and organizations. Many companies, including Gmail and Dropbox, have complete access to everything you send or store on their platforms.


Worse still, many popular email and chat apps openly admit to reading all of your messages and files. (We’re looking at you, Gmail and Facebook!)

Spying is increasing. Hackers are increasing in numbers and in their boldness. U.S. government spies have recently won court cases stating they can legally spy on citizens and non-citizens as much as they like, usually without a court order. The new president-elect of the United States has stated several times that he would like the government to be able to read everyone’s most private messages and eavesdrop on all conversations, especially those of his political enemies.

So would your ex-spouse’s attorney.

Anything you write can be stored, and is potentially vulnerable to government surveillance, hacking, or a subpoena in a run-of-the-mill lawsuit, unless it is encrypted.

Luckily, the world is rapidly changing around us. Many apps that previously stored data in plain text now use encryption to lock out the hackers and spies. End-to-end encryption is kind of table stakes for web-based applications these days.

Before you use another app, ask yourself, “Is this app safe? Does it encrypt my data before sending and receiving it? Before saving my information on some server someplace, is the information encrypted before being saved?” Luckily, there are many apps available today that use heavy-duty encryption. Why would you want to use anything else?

Either everyone has security, or no one has.

Categories: Encryption

1 reply

  1. Before we use another app, (or purchase any software) we should also ask ourselves, “where in the world is this based/developed and where do the owners/developers live, i.e. which jurisdictions can coerce security back doors into whatever we are about to buy, download or use?” How do we know?

    Open source may mitigate some of our concerns, but do we want to use software that could be compromised by secret order to either monitor the user or be recruited into some form of cyber-attack or monitoring of another party? Or are we “not bothered”?

    Software from “secure liberal-democracies” (whatever we may personally think about liberal-democracy) could suddenly become very attractive.


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