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With the NSA snooping around anywhere and everywhere, violating the constitution in the process, the following development was inevitable: Harvard & MIT Students Have Created an Email So Secure Even the NSA Can't Crack It.
Nearly a year ago, former CIA technical assistant Edward Snowden stepped forward to say he was responsible for one of the most explosive leaks in history. The National Security Agency was exposed, and Andy Yen, a Harvard PhD candidate, was appalled.Supposedly, if you can understand Gmail, you can understand ProtonMail. If it's as good as advertized, will it be banned?
"I posted on Facebook, 'Hey, I don't really like the fact the government is wiretapping us. What's happening in America?'"
At the time, Yen was working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland, known as CERN, where the elusive "God Particle" was discovered, coincidentally alongside a handful of other Cambridge, Mass.-educated students from either Harvard or MIT. A team of five suddenly formed, all focused on creating a service stronger than Lavabit, Snowden's email provider.
That service is called ProtonMail, and it is launching out of private beta Friday.
ProtonMail is end-to-end encrypted email that is based offshore in Switzerland, where the team could operate free of surveillance mandates. Although "encryption is not necessarily a new technology," according to Yen, "only one to two percent of the population knows how to do it." ProtonMail handles the entire process without forcing users to install any software, and promises NSA-proof correspondence.
"Even we don't have the ability to read that email," Yen asserted. "If we can't read it, we obviously can't turn it over to any government agencies."
A main motivation behind starting ProtonMail was the human rights component. Referencing a writer in China who blogged about the service, Yen said, "Say you're an activist in China fighting for democracy, this is a life or death service."
The catch is similar to that of Dropbox's model — the service will be free, unless you're a "power user," and then ProtonMail will ring in at roughly $5 a month.
This is what it had to come down to. Government nonsensically spying on everyone led to a more-secure service that freedom lovers and criminals alike will embrace.
By the way, the encryption might be secure, but that will not stop the NSA from hijacking entire computers.
Cisco CEO Complains About NSA Allegations
Please consider In Letter to Obama, Cisco CEO Complains About NSA Allegations
Warning of an erosion of confidence in the products of the U.S. technology industry, John Chambers, the CEO of networking giant Cisco Systems, has asked President Obama to intervene to curtail the surveillance activities of the National Security Agency.If your computer and your router are not safe, is ProtonMail safe? Is anything really safe?
In a letter dated May 15 (obtained by Re/code and reprinted in full below), Chambers asked Obama to create “new standards of conduct” regarding how the NSA carries out its spying operations around the world.
The letter follows new revelations, including photos, published in a book based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden alleging that the NSA intercepted equipment from Cisco and other manufacturers and loaded them with surveillance software. The photos, which have not been independently verified, appear to show NSA technicians working with Cisco equipment. Cisco is not said to have cooperated in the NSA’s efforts.
Addressing the allegations of NSA interference with the delivery of his company’s products, Chambers wrote: “We ship our products globally from inside as well as outside the United States, and if these allegations are true, these actions will undermine confidence in our industry and in the ability of technology companies to deliver products globally.”
“We simply cannot operate this way; our customers trust us to be able to deliver to their doorsteps products that meet the highest standards of integrity and security,” Chambers wrote. “We understand the real and significant threats that exist in this world, but we must also respect the industry’s relationship of trust with our customers.”
The letter follows a May 13 blog post by Cisco General Counsel Mark Chandler saying the NSA had “overreached.” Chandler said that Cisco does not cooperate with any government, including the U.S. government, to “weaken our products.”
Concern about the aggressive tactics of the NSA have hit Cisco’s results, especially in emerging markets like Russia, Brazil and China. When the company reported quarterly earnings last week, it said that orders from emerging countries fell seven percent, and that Brazil, Russia, India, China and Mexico combined for a 13 percent drop. Individually, orders in Brazil fell 27 percent and in Russia, 28 percent.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock