Skip to Content

Cybersecurity & Standards, Government Surveillance

Help Reset the Internet

One year ago, the world was shocked by revelations that the NSA was collecting records of millions of phone calls made in the US every day. This phone call “metadata” revelation was the tip of a massive iceberg, with ensuing reports detailing how the NSA and its global intelligence partners, such as the UK’s GCHQ, had been subverting technology and the law in order to collect and analyze as much data on internet activity as possible.

Since that time, there have been some movements in both the legal and technical realms, with global standards organizations stating that mass surveillance is a fundamental attack on internet activity and that it undermines the trust and confidence of internet users.

However, these efforts move slowly. It takes months and even years to change laws and standards, and the changes will not necessarily be the most protective in terms of the public interest in a free, open and secure internet. Technology and internet companies have responded much more quickly. For example, Google recently released software that can be used to encrypt email, hiding the contents of emails from even its own automated scanning software used to display ads. In addition, Google is encrypting all bulk data transfers between its data centers, and it has added to its transparency reports a description of what email services are not allowing encrypted transfers of email. Facebook, Twitter, and other companies now encrypt their web pages by default, using particularly strong forms of encryption that change every time you make a new connection, thwarting some efforts at mass surveillance.

There are measures everyone who operates a web page can take to make the internet more secure, and there are easy things that we can all do to strengthen our own digital hygiene

But there is much more to be done. There are measures everyone who operates a web page can take to make the internet more secure, and there are easy things that we can all do to strengthen our own digital hygiene. Today, the one-year anniversary of the first revelation from the trove of documents Edward Snowden exfiltrated, CDT is proud to support the Reset The Net effort, in which we all agree to do at least one thing to increase the security of our daily lives online. At CDT, we’ve committed to making sure our staff can use secure chat tools, such as the Off-The-Record encryption method for encrypting chat sessions.

CDT also supports the effort lead by Access called Encrypt All The Things, in which we will implement as much of the Digital Security Action Plan that we can. We will share our experiences in making our web page and online presence more secure and privacy protective.

What will you do? There are great resources available for password managers, web encryption, anonymous browsers (Tor Browser), and other things you can explore and incorporate into your daily life. Whatever it is, we hope you join the movement to reset the Internet to strengthen personal security and privacy.