One of the benefits of living in a security-state aka mass surveillance state or Big Brother State is that one is constantly under the threat of being put under the microscope and dissected. Benefit? Nope. For those who love freedom, mass surveillance is a cancerous evil that should be resisted.
I came across a May 2015 article You’re a Criminal in a Mass Surveillance World – How to Not Get Caught by David Montgomery. It’s immensely long. But its length is absolutely required to get across the important issues it deals with — how to live in a society where mass surveillance is the norm. I am extracting a bit from that article. A small step toward freedom from Big Brother is to get a secure email channel. Here’s how.
If you like the convenience of using a webmail account, choose a provider who uses built-in encryption. I like Tutanota, Protonmail, Neomailbox, and Countermail. (I’d recommend Startmail too if they accepted bitcoin.) They all use an open source, gold standard encryption called PGP. Tutanota deserves particular recognition because it’s entirely open source. Some of them are subscription based, and some operate on donations. Unlike Gmail and its ilk, these all have robust privacy policies, are hosted outside the U.S. (making them harder to strong-arm), and make the encryption process seamless.
By contrast, if you want to use a local email client like Thunderbird, the only way to do so securely is to configure and use PGP yourself. Doing that on Windows and on Mac is frankly a huge pain in the rear for non-technical people. Even Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who broke the Snowden story, couldn’t follow the tutorial Snowden made for him.
If you’re dead set on using an insecure mail provider like Gmail, Yahoomail, or Outlook, your best bet is to use Mailvelope to incorporate PGP encryption. It’s still a hassle to use, though, compared to Tutanota and the others who do the encryption for you automatically.
I realize that switching email providers is a big deal (as far as these things go). But notifying people that you’re switching to an encrypted email provider is a desperately needed message people need to hear. Overcoming mass surveillance is more of a motivational challenge than anything else. Mass surveillance is packaged as just another news item to shake your head over. But personal action is the only thing that will inspire others to take it seriously. Mass surveillance is not a news items. It’s a silent war being waged against us.
When you choose an email address, consider not basing it on your name. There are constant security breaches at companies resulting in email addresses getting lifted along with other potentially embarrassing info. If your email address also reveals your name, it gives bad guys another piece of data to work with in taking you apart.