The bottom line is we know the government conducts surveillance on civilians. This is one of the many reasons you need to take your privacy into your own hands and enact these five steps to protect yourself.
In November, a U.S. congressional House panel approved legislation that renewed the National Security Agency’s internet surveillance program for four more years. This program was initially classified, but former NSA contractor Edward Snowden exposed this practice in 2013.
Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows the NSA to collect large amounts of data from digital communications — basically, anything you do online falls into this category.
This program authorizes the government to collect information on Americans for a number of reasons. Most importantly, it gathers information on Americans who communicate with a foreign target overseas. These communications can be monitored without a warrant — not only by the NSA, but by the FBI as well.
Obviously, this legislation is facing fierce opposition from technology companies and privacy groups who want to protect U.S. citizens. In fact, the group Reform Government Surveillance, which represents tech companies including Facebook and Apple, warns that this legislation will open the door to expanding government surveillance around the world.
U.S. intelligence agencies, on the other hand, claim this legislation is critical to keeping U.S. citizens and our allies safe from terrorism. I think this is an incredibly slippery slope: Where do you draw the line between gathering intelligence for the security of our nation and invading the privacy of innocent people?
Watch Your Back
The bottom line is we know the government conducts surveillance on civilians. This is one of the many reasons you need to take your privacy into your own hands and enact the necessary steps to protect yourself.
Here are five cybersecurity measures you should consider employing to shield yourself from prying eyes — whether it’s the government or a hacker who’s trying to steal your information:
1. Encrypted messaging. No matter what communication device you use (Android, iPhone, etc.), you should download an encrypted messaging program such as Signal or WhatsApp. These secure messaging apps offer end-to-end encryption, which means your messages cannot be deciphered while being transmitted. In other words, your conversation is protected and can’t be seen by anyone other than the people involved in the conversation (the end users). I recommend avoiding messaging platforms that don’t offer encryption such as Google Hangouts because these conversations can easily be intercepted.
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