Hey, Ravinder here.
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Authoritarian governments are getting smarter. So smart that they can read every email, text, listen to every phone call and even turn on the camera to see the whereabouts of their target. In this instance, the target being journalist, Omar Radi.
Trained in cybersecurity, Radi was proficient in encryption techniques. He hadn't fallen victim to many of the trivial hacks adopted by perpetrators. Instead, he became victim to a terrifyingly stealthy method, which solely involved him visiting any one website.
Evidence gathered by Amnesty International shows that Radi's phone was infected by 'network injection'. A method whereby an attacker intercepts a cellular signal when it requests to visit a website. Within milliseconds, the browsers diverted to a malicious site with spyware downloaded, which then allows remote access to the entire phone.
Though Amnesty couldn't outrightly state that the Moroccan authorities were behind the attack, from evidence, they were able to conclude it was highly likely to be so.
This open letter provides an articulate response to Graham's assault on encryption. An attack whereby Graham outrightly says, end-to-end encryption is a tool for criminals.
It'd be naive to assume that criminals do not use end-to-end encryption. But, banishing such technologies won't deter criminals. Lindsay Graham's bill assumes that criminals are a byproduct of end-to-end encryption. That's a dangerous statement to make.
Banning end-to-end encryption punishes law-abiding citizens. Lots of people use end-to-end encryption to protect sensitive conversations. Even the EU Commission ordered all of its staff to switch to Signal - a messaging app geared towards privacy.
There will always be bad people in the world, period. But as this letter so succinctly puts it; 'what kind of dystopian authoritarian government says that it's okay to strip everyone of their freedoms, in exchange for stopping a few bad guys?'
Removing Google from your life is no painless task. However, it's possible. I've drastically reduced my reliance on Google's (and Facebook's) ecosystem of products. Opting for those who are more in line with Google's original mission; 'don't be evil'.
Here are a few ways in which you can begin to make the switch: Google Search for DuckDuckGo, Gmail for ProtonMail, and Google Chrome for Firefox.
Soon, I'll be creating an in-depth guide on Google alternatives for you. In the meantime, this guide does a great job of getting you started with the switch.
Since the start of this millennium, various companies have tried to tackle Google's 90%~ stronghold of the search market share. The likes of DuckDuckGo have had a good attempt, but in the grand scheme of things, failed, settling for a market niche.
This time around, we have another contender - Neeva. The founder of Neeva, Sridhar Ramaswamy, formerly ran Google's monstrous $115 billion ad business. With $37.5 million in funding from Silicon Valley heavyweights, Neeva is priming itself for a fight.
Neeva's first differentiation is that it will not have advertising. Instead, subscriptions will support it. Neeva's model feeds into my thesis of privacy becoming a luxury. Sources have mentioned that Neeva will initially be free, and then cost $10~ per month.
From what I can gather, Neeva's second differentiation is that it will not track users. However, it will be personalised, just not personalised through data mining.
Neeva is not out to reinvent search. Neeva will sit on top of existing content and data sources: Bing search results, Apple Maps, Intrinio and other sources. If you've used DuckDuckGo, you'll understand my pain of unreliable search results. I'm intrigued as to how Neeva will tackle this. Though, I'm willing to put up with it for the sake of privacy.
In a New York Times profile, Ramaswamy commented the following on his previous employer; 'The pressure to maintain growth, has come at a high cost to the users. With useful search results pushed down to squeeze in more ads, and privacy sacrificed for the sake of online tracking tools to keep tabs on what ads people are seeing'.
Unfortunately, a focus on revenue growth is an inevitable function of being a publicly traded company. In the case of Google, its profitable advertising arm is under immense pressure from shareholders to keep cashing out quarter after quarter.
I've signed up for Neeva's waiting list. I'm intrigued. Will, it beat my current combination of Firefox and DuckDuckGo. Or, will it become another luxury software for the few. After all, it only needs to inspire a certain number of users to sustain itself financially.
Incognito Weekly | Sepapaja 6, Tallinn, Estonia
A newsletter with links and commentary on all things related to privacy.
Written By @RavinderDeolCom | Unsubscribe