The scandal isn’t Swedish
June 19, 2008
So Sweden just passed “lex Orwell” allowing their Gestapo^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hsecret service to put all electronic traffic coming in or going out of the country under surveillance (fellow Zopista and Swede Lennart Regebro has written about this as well). This is, by far, the most drastic law in this respect and I’m literally speechless. Fortunately, something like this would be quite unconstitutional in this country (but then again IANAL, so what do I know). Mind you, this hasn’t stopped the German coalition of the willing from passing a law on data retention whereby all telecommunication providers in Germany must store telecom data for 6 months and provide them to the authorities when necessary. And if you live in any other European country, chances are good your government has also passed similar laws as there’s a EU guideline that inspired the German law.
Anyway, all of this really isn’t a scandal. It’s sad, wrong, and many other things. The real scandal, however, is that nobody is using email encryption. If we all wrote encrypted emails, good luck to any government agent trying to make out what we’re writing each other. We use encryption when buying junk off the internet, when doing online banking, even when checking in code into a version control repository. Why aren’t we doing email encryption?
Yes, I’m aware email encryption is out there and actively used, for instance by enterprises and corporations to prevent industry espionage (when I worked for Siemens, Infineon, etc., confidential emails to out-of-office addresses always had to be encrypted). When I say “nobody is using it,” I mean my mom and dad, my best friends, my fellow students at university, heck, even I. Where’s the built-in encryption functionality for Apple Mail? For Thunderbird? For Outlook? For Gmail? Who needs Exchange for the rest of us when there isn’t even email encryption for the rest of us?