NSA-resistant Android application…

Silent Circle, a company specializing in encrypted communications, released a messaging application for Android devices that encrypts and securely erases messages and files.  The application, called Silent Text, lets users specify a time period for which the receiver can view a message before it is erased. SilentText2It also keep the keys used to encrypt and decrypt content on the user’s device, which protects the company from law enforcement requests for the keys.  Silent Circle, whose co-founder is encryption expert Phil Zimmerman, abandoned its privacy-focused email service in early August following leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden detailing the U.S. government’s vast electronic surveillance efforts.

How it works – The Silent Text application generates a new encryption key for each new message. The key is then destroyed “so even if your device is examined, there are no keys to be had after the conversation is complete,” according to the company’s website.  Only the sender and receiver can view a message. If it was intercepted in transit, it would be unreadable unless the interloper could obtain the encryption key or use brute-force computing power to decrypt the content.  The “Burn Notice” feature lets the sender set a time for a text, video, voice recording or picture to be erased from the recipient’s device. The sender can also recall or destroy previously sent messages. It supports files up to 100 MB.  Although I’ve been reading mixed reviews about the app and I’m not sure if casual users would be willing to pay the services fees, This sounds pretty cool.  I especially like the fact that the keys are stored on the device.  Here at the Villainous VooDoo, we take our privacy seriously and welcome tools such as Silent Text available to the general public.  Hopefully, in the near future we  can begin seeing such apps offered free.  Doom on you, NSA.

Pirate Bay introduces Web browser to elude censorship

The Pirate Bay has introduced its own browser, which can be used to circumvent censorship and blockades.  The PirateBrowser is a simple, one-click, pre-configured Firefox browser that makes The Pirate Bay and other blocked sites instantly available and accessible in countries where the site is blocked, the torrent search website said in a blog post over the weekend.  pirate_bay_logoPirateBrowser uses Vidalia, a cross-platform graphical controller for the Tor software that allows users to start and stop the Tor anonymizing network.  This client is bundled with Mozilla’s Firefox portable browser with the FoxyProxy addon, a set of proxy management tools for Firefox, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer that bypass content-filtering in certain countries.  Combined with some custom adjustments, the PirateBrowser allows users to “circumvent censorship that certain countries such as Iran, North Korea, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Denmark, Italy, and Ireland impose onto their citizens,” according to the PirateBrowser site.  The launch of the browser that celebrates the 10th anniversary of The Pirate Bay is only intended to circumvent censorship, The Pirate Bay said. PirateBrowser is available for Windows on piratebrowser.com. Linux or Mac versions were not announced.

Groklaw falls victim to the NSA…

Groklaw, an award-winning legal news website has stopped work, saying it cannot operate under current US surveillance policies.  Pamela Jones, Groklaw founder, cited the alleged US practice of screening emails from abroad and storing messages “enciphered or otherwise thought to contain secret meaning” for five years.  Groklaw had promised its sources anonymity, but said it could not now ensure contributors would stay secret.  A screenshot of the Groklaw websitePeople, remember when I said: “…privacy is something you make for yourself…”?  We all know the NSA is snooping around and now we’re seeing fallout from it.  “There is no way to continue doing Groklaw, not long term, which is incredibly sad,” Ms Jones wrote, adding: “There is now no shield from forced exposure.”  Ms Jones suggested that the anonymity of Groklaw contributors could be at risk, since emails were screened by the US government.  “I can’t do Groklaw without your input,” she said. “There is now no private way, evidently, to collaborate.”  London-based patent lawyer Andrew Alton, of Urquhart-Dykes and Lord, said: “Groklaw has been a great resource because it brings together all the available documents, instead of reading second or third hand analysis.  “I understand why Ms Jones has decided it cannot continue.  “There is a danger that, by encouraging people to contribute, those individuals might be incriminating themselves.”  As the Villainous VooDoo has warned before, Big Brother Obama is listening.  Had enough yet?

UPDATE – 09/16/13 – Interesting reading on the subject.

Encryption App Silent Circle Shuts Down…

The communications encryptions firm ‘Silent Circle’ chose to shut down it’s e-mail service as one if its competitors ‘Lavabit’ recently shut down it’s core email service.  Lavabit cited that he had been the subject of a U.S. government investigation and gag order.  It appears the NSA came knocking and instead of fighting for our disappearing privacy rights, Lavabit decided to fold.  Silent-Circle-screenshot5Co-founder and CTO Jon Callas said in a blog post Friday that Silent Circle’s e-mail service had “always been something of a quandary for us.” This, in spite of the fact that one of Silent Circle’s other co-founder is Phil Zimmermann, inventor of the popular e-mail encryption software PGP.  Electronic mail uses standard internet protocols that cannot have the same security guarantees that real-time communication has, Callas said. “Email as we know it with SMTP, POP3, and IMAP cannot be secure.”

“We’ve been thinking about this for some time, whether it was a good idea at all. Yesterday, another secure email provider, Lavabit, shut down their system lest they ‘be complicit in crimes against the American people.’ We see the writing on the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail.”  Callas said Silent Circle had not received subpoenas, warrants or anything other similar request from any government. The company had been debating what to do about its email service for weeks, and up until Friday was ready to phase the service out so that it would continue for existing customers. “It is always better to be safe than sorry,” Callas said.  What he meant was “…better whipped and submissive than free…”

Friends, this is truly sad.  On a daily basis, I see our rights and liberties evaporating due to the efforts of our government and it’s agencies that LIE to us and SPY on us, all under the banner of Social Reform.  This post show that a society that fears and distrusts it’s own leaders cannot thrive.  Had enough yet?

UPDATE – 08/15/13 – Monterey-based Privato Security sped up the launch of its email service.  “I think it is a golden opportunity for us,” CEO Neal Smith, 68, said Tuesday.  Privato works by sending an email to a cloud server, an Internet-based storage system, where it stays — heavily encrypted — until the recipient downloads it, instantly deleting it from the server.  Check it out.

UPDATE – 08/16/13 – NBC reports that senior US Attorney James Trump sent Lavabit founder Ladar Levison and his lawyer a veiled arrest threat when Levison shut down his private email service (used by NSA leaker Edward Snowden) rather than comply with a secret order to spy on his customers.  More interesting reading on the subject here.

UPDATE – 08/23/13 – Ladar Levison, the owner of the now-shuttered encrypted email service used by Edward Snowden said that he will continue to defend online security free of government surveillance, hopefully with success in courts or a possible move of his company overseas.

UPDATE – 08/29/13 – Usage for Tor doubles in wake of secure email shutdowns.

UPDATE – 09/16/13 – Interesting reading on the subject.


Looks like Edward Snowden has leaked another little tidbit about the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs.  According to The Guardian, the NSA taps all you do online and XKeyscore is the program they use to do it.  This program essentially makes available everything you’ve ever done on the Internet – browsing history, searches, content of your emails, online chats, even your metadata – available without any prior authorization — no warrant, no court clearance, no signature on a dotted line. snowdenSome NSA flunky simply plugs in a private email address, and seconds later, your online history is no longer private.  That is more power than government should have over its own people.  XKeyscore is the second black mark on the NSA’s record in the past few weeks. The Guardian’s first story uncovered PRISM, a highly controversial surveillance program that reportedly allows the security agency to access the servers of major Internet organizations including Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, YouTube and Skype, among others.  As I mentioned on a previous post, you should have no expectation of privacy when communicating digitally.  There are however, steps you can take to limit what is collected about you.  I’ve started using the Startpage search engine rather than Google.  StartPage combines the powerful search results of Google with the strong privacy features of Ixquick, the world’s most private search engine.  No IP addresses are stored, no personal data is gathered or passed on to third parties, and no identifying cookies are placed on your browser. Startpage also offers secure SSL encryption, a proxy option that allows anonymous web surfing, full third-party certification, and numerous other privacy features.  I recommend switching to Startpage immediately.  FYI, work continues on the Villainous VooDoo data encryption solution; stay tuned…

UPDATE – 08/21/13 – A new report by the Wall Street Journal says the NSA “has the capacity to reach roughly 75% of all U.S. Internet traffic.” And while the NSA is only supposed to “target” foreigners, the NSA sometimes “retains the written content of e-mails sent between citizens within the U.S.”

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