Is it time to Reset the Net?
Almost exactly one year after exposing the details of the U.S. government's wide-reaching surveillance effort, Edward Snowden has joined Google, Mozilla, and the American Civil Liberties Union in an effort to increase Internet privacy dubbed Reset the Net.
With the confidentiality issues inherent to communicating with clients online (and most lawyers' failure to effectively address them) effective encryption of email and increased data security are things any attorney should be interested in.
But what can actually be done to improve your online privacy?
Reset the Net
In a statement reported by CNET, Snowden praised the Reset the Net campaign, saying it "will mark the moment when we turn political expression into practical action, and protect ourselves on a large scale."
Also promoting the cause was Google, who announced in a blog post that they were releasing the source code for End-to-End, an email encryption tool for use with its Chrome web browser. Though the extension is currently being tested, when it's released it will allow users to uninterrupted encryption of emails sent from web-based email platforms. According to the announcement, currently between 40 and 50 percent of emails sent between Google's Gmail and other email providers have no encryption.
What You Can Do
In the meantime, there are several relatively simple ways to improve your Internet privacy:
- Secure your smartphone. From creating longer passcodes to making sure your phone can be wiped remotely if it is ever lost or stolen there are some fairly straightforward and very necessary ways to secure the trove of data on your smartphone.
- Add two-factor authentication to your passwords. Two-factor authentication is rapidly becoming a must, since even the most difficult passwords can be cracked. Two-factor refers to a second level of security after the password, needed to access your email or other passworded service or site. It is typically either a code sent to your cell phone via SMS or biological information such as the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5s.
- Consider using Tor. As part of its "privacy pack" the Reset the Net campaign recommends using Tor to browse the Internet anonymously. Though Tor does indeed allow for anonymous browsing, there are some downsides to switching over to the favored tool of the web's dark side.
Whether Reset the Net is successful in having any sort of lasting effect on government surveillance of Internet communications, it's never a bad idea to update your personal online privacy practices to insure you're doing everything you can to safeguard both your and your clients' information.
- Google Joins 'Reset the Net' With Encryption Tool (Newsweek)
- 4 Ways to Protect Yourself on Free Public Wi-Fi Networks (FindLaw's Technologist)
- The Winners and Losers of EFF's 'Who Has Your Back?' Privacy Report (FindLaw's Technologist)