As Agent K said in Men in Black, “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it”.
The behavioural mores we espouse as individuals rarely survive in the context of larger groups, organisations, governments and so on. One only has to look at the behaviour of governments and corporations to realise that they are capable of the kind of behaviour which few individuals would relate to themselves.
Google’s famous “Don’t be evil” slogan, once induced a warm fuzzy feeling. A relatively small company of idealists trying to do things ethically, Google now conjures an image, in my mind at least, of a crude-oil-drenched seabird, fighting for it’s last breath through the poison of corporate and governmental fear, and greed.
In an astonishing defence of the newly revealed lack of privacy, Google is quoted as saying:
“Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their communications are processed by the recipient’s ECS [electronic communications service] provider in the course of delivery.”
Two subtle misnomers have crept in here. Firstly, when my ISP or any other service provider for that matter, “processes” email, one should not assume such “processing” includes sharing email and personal identities with state spooks.
Secondly, their statement explains all too clearly how Google views its relationship with its users. Most users do not consider Google to be their trusted secretary – but rather they consider Google to be the electronic equivalent of the Royal Mail – and if it turned out the Royal Mail had been steaming open our letters for decades and copying the contents to GCHQ, then I imagine there would be blood on the carpets of Westminster!
The revelations of PRISM and our own GCHQ’s involvement with that particular project has abhorred anyone who regards personal liberty and free speech as an essential cornerstone of democracy. While nobody wants to support terrorism or paedophilia, it is naïve to imagine that the machinery now put in place to deal with them will itself avoid abuse.
We quickly forgot Walter Wolfgang, the 57 year long member of the Labour party who, at the grand age of 82, was arrested under the Terrorism Act simply for heckling then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw over the Iraq war. If an inoffensive octogenarian can seriously be treated in this way, then you should consider which of your emailed, facebooked, tweeted opinions or shopping habits might have gained the unwarranted attention of agent Smith – these people have already experienced the results.
Knowledge is power, and how better to suppress any threat to your power than by knowing everything your opponent ever did online.
As much as I would like to wax on about the slippery slope towards tyranny being greased by the continued censorship and erosion of privacy on the internet, I am here to talk about Krystal’s view on the matter.
Krystal believe your personal privacy is sacred
We believe in privacy. We will NEVER join any scheme that exposes our customer’s data to the state. We hope to re-iterate this fact on a regular basis. If we are ever gagged, then we will write no more on the matter (unless they force us to lie)! Clearly, we have always been obliged to provide data under warrant to law enforcement agencies, but this has to be targeted and specific in scope – this is utterly different from providing the state with a comfy chair in the heart of our operations.
Krystal are a 100% UK operation. Our hardware, datacentre, and staff are all UK based. The only third party email provider we use is MandrillApp, for sending out customer account emails. If we see any evidence to suggest that MandrillApp are complicit in schemes like PRISM, then we would immediately take action to protect our customer’s data.
We STRONGLY encourage the use of SSL for email connections to our servers to avoid snooping of your data by your ISP or WiFi provider. All Krystal hosting accounts include free the facility to use SSL protected email and webmail connections.
Krystal provide a FREE shared SSL certificate on every server. You can read on our support site how to serve https using an SSL certificate (https://support.krystal.co.uk/entries/25224666-How-to-serve-https-using-an-SSL-certificate). This allows you to encrypt the connection between your visitors’ web browsers and your website, reducing the risk of eavesdropping. Of course, you can also purchase a dedicated SSL certificate to protect your own domain names as well.
In future articles I will be discussing how to secure your email completely, from writer to reader. While it’s been possible to do this for years, until now email encryption has remained in the purview of corporates and geeks – recent developments have helped to accelerate the maturing of this technology (which is free) to make it more accessible to less tech-savy users, and I’ll be discussing some options for home and small business users.
In the meantime, why not head over to https://prism-break.org/ and see some of the ways to keep prying eyes from your online life.