This week in Techno-Liberty (March 21)

Learning digital security: A new project, the Digital Security Exchange, is dedicated to “helping the U.S. digital security community be more responsive to the needs of civil society groups and high-risk communities.” The introductory article, by Josh Levy, states that “digital security is largely a human problem, not a technical one.” It’s hard for people without much technical knowledge to understand. It will talk with high-risk groups and match trainers up with communities.

Fear in the executive branch: A Politico article claims there is an atmosphere of paranoia among White House staff. Employees are reportedly turning off their work phones when at home, out of fear of being spied on, and not taking their personal phones to work. Some fear that the CIA may be monitoring their phone calls.

Don’t google, duck! Do you think you don’t have to worry about government snoops because you have nothing to hide? But what if you’ve done suspicious things like entering a person’s name in Google? That’s enough to make you a target of a search warrant. Ars Technica reports a sweeping search warrant served against Google. It wants names, dates of birth, MAC addresses, and Social Security numbers on anyone who searched for a certain person’s name, or “variants” of it.

A Guardian article claims the warrant is only against people in the town of Edina, but what does that mean? Does Google retain the originating IP address of every search? Even if it does (which would be scary), an IP address is a poor indicator of a user’s location. This sounds like a fishing expedition just for the sake of getting personal information on local people who use the Internet.

People love to give Google free advertising by recommending you “google.” If you care about your privacy, though, it’s about the worst option. It collects lots of information on you. To its credit, it’s fighting this subpoena, but you’re safer with someone who doesn’t have your information in the first place. DuckDuckGo is much better at respecting your privacy. If you really insist on Google, you can use Startpage, which puts a private front end on Google.

Published by

Gary McGath

I am a freelance writer, author of the books _Files that Last_ and _Tomorrow's Songs Today_, with a strong background in software development, file formats, and digital preservation.

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