Breaking out of PRISM

With the allegations about the US government spying on individuals still causing much concern, the EFF (via) has put together a website listing a variety of software and service alternatives that help you protect your online privacy.

The site is at and I’m a little bit ambivalent about it.

Not being dependent on a single supplier is, in itself, a good thing and using different providers for different services allow to to avoid being locked in to a single monopoly. There is also a lot to be said for not being dependent on a supplier whose business model involves building ever more detailed profiles of you for the benefit of advertisers. And, of course, being in control of the software that you run on your own devices is a good thing in and of itself.

What concerns me is that this list of alternatives is being presented as an alternative to PRISM. As I said earlier, the problem is not that the state is able to pry into your online activities but that they want to.

Being in control of your comnputing devices is a good thing; being in control of your online profile is a good thing; not being locked into a single supplier is a good thing; and service providers that see you as a customer rather than a product are a good thing.

The EFF’s list of alternatives is well worth looking through and, by taking advantage of some of these, you can greatly improve your online privacy. But don’t fool yourself into believing that dealing with the specific cases raised by the PRISM allegations absolve you of the need to address the wider problem of governments behaving unaccountably.

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