21 November 2008

I Love Cash

Not in a "love of money is the route of all evil" way, it's just that the more the government tries to build all encompassing databases of our every movement and interaction, the more I value the anonymity that using cash brings. Lately, my use of credit and debit cards seems to have been reducing and my use of cash increasing and I think that's a subconscious attempt to reclaim my privacy and reduce the information available to prying eyes.

I've been taking the same approach to my online life. I've switched to using free and open source software, so that I know that the code is open to scrutiny and should be free of any nasty hidden features like back-doors. I've ditched Windows and started using Ubuntu, a process which was a lot less painful than I expected and I've find Ubuntu to be a much better system to use. I use Firefox for web browsing and Thunderbird for e-mail for the same reasons.

I've also started taking care to secure my data more thoroughly. I use Truecrypt to encrypt files, especially if I have to store them on somebody else's server and I use Enigmail to encrypt my email whenever I can, although there seem to be few people that use it heavily. That's a shame, because encryption is only truly effective when it's used extensively and for non-sensitive as well as sensitive data. There are a couple of reasons for that:
  • If people only encrypt data which is sensitive, such as their medical data, it flags up which files are sensitive and in the process tells any privacy invader where they should be directing their efforts.
  • If the use of encryption is limited, it allows the government to reverse the "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" argument and claim "if you're encrypting information, you must have something to hide." If everybody were to encrypt data as a matter of routine, that argument (as weak as it already is) would be completely destroyed.
Hopefully, the increasing erosion of privacy will push people to make greater use of encryption and open software, which will create beneficial network effects for everybody who does it.


lisa moore said...

Who doesn't love money, anyway? But our world should not revolve around it. As for privacy, it is very important in people's lives. Same goes with business. Some stuff in a company must be kept confidential, to prevent scam and identity theft.

-Lisa Moore

Mac Pherson said...

Money is important. But like what Lisa said, our world should not revolve around it. Privacy is more important than money. Privacy helps people and even business maintain their individuality.