Edward Snowden’s privacy tips: ‘Get rid of Dropbox,” avoid Facebook and Google

“According to Edward Snowden, people who care about their privacy should stay away from popular consumer Internet services like Dropbox, Facebook, and Google,” Anthony Ha reports for TechCrunch. “Snowden conducted a remote interview today as part of the New Yorker Festival, where he was asked a couple of variants on the question of what we can do to protect our privacy.”

“His first answer called for a reform of government policies. Some people take the position that they ‘don’t have anything to hide,’ but he argued that when you say that, ‘You’re inverting the model of responsibility for how rights work,'” Ha reports. “He added that on an individual level, people should seek out encrypted tools and stop using services that are ‘hostile to privacy.’ For one thing, he said you should ‘get rid of Dropbox,’ because it doesn’t support encryption, and you should consider alternatives like SpiderOak.”

“He also suggested that while Facebook and Google have improved their security, they remain ‘dangerous services’ that people should avoid,” Ha reports. “His final piece of advice on this front: Don’t send unencrypted text messages, but instead use services like RedPhone and Silent Circle.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Apple’s iPhone encryption is a godsend, even if government snoops and cops hate it – October 8, 2014
Short-timer U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder blasts Apple for protecting users’ privacy against government overreach – September 30, 2014
What if Osama bin Laden had an iPhone? – September 26, 2014
FBI blasts Apple for protective users’ privacy by locking government, police out of iPhones and iPads – September 25, 2014
Apple thinks different about privacy – September 23, 2014
Apple’s iOS Activation Lock reduces iPhone thefts, Samsung phone thefts skyrocket – September 18, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook ups privacy to new level, takes direct swipe at Google – September 18, 2014
Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for government, police – even with search warrants – September 18, 2014
Would you trade privacy for national security? Most Americans wouldn’t – August 6, 2014
Apple begins encrypting iCloud email sent between providers – July 15, 2014
Obama administration demands master encryption keys from firms in order to conduct electronic surveillance against Internet users – July 24, 2013
U.S. NSA seeks to build quantum computer to crack most types of encryption – January 3, 2014
Apple’s iMessage encryption trips up U.S. feds’ surveillance – April 4, 2013

88 Comments

    1. In the end, government is just a group of people you can’t trust to keep your information safe. If you want to be safer with your information, use these tools… Which are developed by groups of people you CAN trust to keep your information safe.

      Trust me, this group of people you have no connection to personally is way better than that other group of people you have no connection to personally.

  1. Personally I think it’s a good idea to keep a close watch on Facebook-type people. Especially the ones that take selfies that they then think other people may be interested in. They’re all clearly delusional and a potential public menace.

      1. Thank you, quiviran. I think there is no easy answer. Many who report vulnerabilities only get themselves in trouble, not the problem fixed. So they either shut up (and nothing is done) or the try the other way. I am not sure that the US government would have acted better than it did.

        Most of the time when someone points out a problem, they become the problem…..

        1. there ARE/WERE other avenues available to him, he CHOSE to commit treason instead.
          Thats the issue.

          Most of what he said/exposed I agree with him on, his METHOD I do not agree with.

          1. There is nothing treasonous in what he did. He exposed illegal activities of the government. No other avenues were available; many have previously tried to work through the system to expose such activity, but were either silenced, or ignored, or even prosecuted. Intelligence agencies of the American government have always been beyond the reach of the American judicial system. There was NEVER a way to use the system to expose their wrongdoing. The only way to do it was precisely what Snowden did.

            1. There ARE.
              We have LAWS that protect him. (Dating back at least to 1863)
              There are politicians that AGREE with Snowden, that would have protected him. (if you think they can’t…)

              BUT… we would not have known his name. He would not be giving interviews.
              And there’s your answer as to WHY.

            2. That is simply so idealistic and naïve.

              Of course there are politicians that AGREE with snowden; that is because there are politicians who DON’T. Most politicians will take a stand opposite the one taken by their opposing party member(s). That says precisely nothing.

              As for the laws, that is probably the most naïve part of the statement. As I said, and as most reasonable people (Americans, as well as foreigners) know, these intelligence agencies operate for the most part outside of the national (as well as international) law. Their “pragmatic” thinking is that this is necessary in order to provide security for the country… There is a very, very long list of actions committed by these agencies (mostly NSA and CIA) that was in violations to many laws, domestic and international. Needless to say, there never was any action on these. Nor will there be any meaningful change after the Snowden revelations.

              And to say that the ability to give a few interviews to the press was worth having to leave one’s own home and to live in Russia (of all places), uncertain of whether at any point in the future the Russians would unload him into the hands of the very NSA and CIA he had exposed, well that’s a bit disingenuous.

            3. It would have played out the exact same way, except nobody would know Snoden’s name.

              It’s been done before.

              He’d have protection, everything he said would still be out there in hearings and on the press.. and IF any government agency would do ANYTHING to him… his name would then be given openly to the media.

              Again, it’s been done before. And we still don’t know (publicly) who the whistleblower ended up being. Not saying the NSA/FBI wouldn’t know the person.. but they know they can’t do anything about the person.

              Fame was the motive in the end.

            4. @Backlash, knowing all we know now, how safe would he have been if we didn’t know his name? I’d venture to say he’d be dead by now. No trial, no jury, no judge, just another random murder victim.

              You really expect the secret agencies of this country to allow their secrets to be exposed without trying to shut the guy up?! He did what he did the way he did it so killing him would raise an outcry.

            5. you are not educated in the ways of ordinary citizens facing the monolithic machine that will silence all, simply to perpetuate itself

              Politicians are paid and that is known

              see brokovitch for instance, then do more homework, maybe you will realize the “backlash” is against ignorance, not what you promote

              thank gosh there are those like him, who would give up freedom to support the liberty our founding fathers fought so gallantly for

            6. The net result being… What exactly? As far as I know they’re still doing what they’ve always done with no change to how they do it. Good job?

            7. Hi Backlash,
              Even in The Netherlands, a country where freedom of press is held in high regard, a whistle blower will be condemned and stripped of all human decency. The whistle blowers we have had here had no job, no home and no credibility. No one has more money and time than the government, they can always outspend you with lawyers who can bill as many hours as they need to find the way to discredit you. Mind you, this is in The Netherlands, where most people only know about such practices from Hollywood……

            8. in the US whistleblowers are not treated badly, most are praised.
              Treason, different story.

              People need to quit basing their government off of hollywoods interpretation.

          2. Hi Backlash, I’m with you on this. The guy committed treason no question. But this forum seems to attract a very high proportion of people who seem to think that their individuals “right” are more important than the rights of the greater community they live in. A lot of very self focussed, selfish individuals. Perhaps many of them are too immature to understand the bigger picture in life. Anyway, you won’t have any luck changing their self-centred minds, just as I won’t either, so don’t bother trying rational arguments with them, you’ll just waste your breathe.

            1. .Me
              You need to be educated on this, for your references are too thin. It is ALWAYS in the best interest of the people that the governments ways are exposed. For if we were to give the government a finger in letting them do a little illegal work, they will eventually take the arm……
              (yes, I too would want a police officer to just shoot a child molester instead of spending millions on trials and prisons etc. But once you let that cat out of the bag…)

      2. Remember that Snowden set about doing what he did in a premeditated manner. He intentionally got hired as a contractor so that he could expose what he believed was going on before he actually saw what was going on. Some of what he ended up doing was a public good. But a lot of what he did was very very bad. Let’s not get carried away elevate him to sainthood just yet.

        1. If you suspect murder is happening behind a door, just don’t open the door? The problems are with the government actions, not Snowden. Governments goals are not to do the righteous thing, their goals are to acquire power and expand it. The vigilance of people like Snowden are necessary. We all suspected something was happening when the NSA built secret rooms within ATT switching centers and routed all of the lines through them. Snowden just figured out how to peek behind the door and did it.

          1. “If you suspect murder is happening behind a door, just don’t open the door? ”

            Unless you are Law Enforcement, or SEE the act.. if YOU break open the door, and there isn’t a murder taking place… YOU are breaking the law.
            Could be TV, or Acting class etc.

            You must be WITNESS to it, else you are a vigilante going around trying to stop crime. (Laws against you doing so)

            If you think a bank is being robbed… go ahead and run in with Gun drawn to “stop” it…

            “The problems are with the government actions, not Snowden.”
            BOTH are at fault.. One bad action does not cross out the other.

            1. and he KNEW this? Fame was motive, gotcha.
              If he KNEW this, and ALLOWED it to continue UNTIL HE could get the fame from it….

              If you know a murder is taking place, and you decide to not say anything until you can profit from it.. Call the News instead of the Police..

            2. And what happens when the police are standing guard for the murderers? if he had called the police, I’m pretty sure no one at the NSA would be in jail today, but Snowden would.

            3. “And what happens when the police are standing guard for the murderers? if he had called the police, I’m pretty sure no one at the NSA would be in jail today, but Snowden would.”

              The murder analogy is getting out of hand..

              And the “Police” still answer to others.. the NSA can do many things, get away with stuff others can’t. but they STILL answer to someone else.

            4. Fame is the only thing that’s kept him alive. Kill him now and you have a martyr on your hands. He’s a hero to millions. Just look at the votes on this board. A lot more people support him than don’t.

              He’s more honest than most politicians, but then again so are most convicted criminals.

            5. “Fame is the only thing that’s kept him alive. Kill him now and you have a martyr on your hands.”

              As has been done before, he would have been Known as a Whistleblower to the public and not a “name”. The NSA etc wouldn’t dare go after him even though they would easily know his name, because there WOULD be people that have his name etc, and would drop everything to the press the second the NSA etc tried to do anything.

              And you are correct, kill him now… or as an unknown, and he’d be a martyr.

              YOUR exact scenario (him being killed, making him a martyr) is EXACTLY what would have kept him safe as an unknown.

              Snowden is of the current “I want it now, and I want my 15 minutes” generation.

              As I have said before, i’m not against Snowden for what he found… Just the route he took.

            6. @Backlash, how exactly would have killing him as an unknown created a martyr? How does an anonymous dead guy, killed for no known cause create a martyr? It doesn’t. You need a face and a name for that to happen.

            7. “@Backlash, how exactly would have killing him as an unknown created a martyr? How does an anonymous dead guy, killed for no known cause create a martyr? It doesn’t. You need a face and a name for that to happen.”

              PAY ATTENTION….

              If he were to have went proper routes….. LIKE OTHERS HAVE DONE IN THE PAST…. He would be only known as “The NSA Whistleblower”
              If the NSA or *any* other agency would have touched him…. THEN his name would be released, the NSA/whoever would then be in a lot worse situation.

              He could have done this properly, stayed anonymous and safe. This could have played out the same way, but nobody outside the NSA and a few other people would have known his name.

              But no… he wanted his 15 minutes of fame. (And committed treason in the process)

            8. @Bachlash, If he was under government “protection” and anonymous, the government would not have let him expose the government corruption he had proof of. Are you really that naïve? That would be like anonymously asking a crooked cop for protection while exposing the crooked cop.

              The result would’ve been the same, no exposure, a dead body and an unsolved crime.

              Do you really think the government wouldn’t have killed him to keep him quiet?

            9. “@Bachlash, If he was under government “protection” and anonymous, the government would not have let him expose the government corruption he had proof of. Are you really that naïve? ”

              My God…. are YOU that F’n stupid?

              Or maybe you have decided to target one damn post, and forget all others.

              the NSA DOES ANSWER TO OTHERS….
              Nutshell: He could have received protection as a whistleblower (AS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE) with those protecting him obviously knowing his real name…. and prepared to RELEASE HIS NAME if the NSA or whoever does in fact do anything to him.

              Quit watching hollywood for your “news” or how Government works.

              Take a read here, Snowden could have started here, but we know he went out in SEARCH of something to leak… and then Fame.
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Director_of_National_Intelligence
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidential_Policy_Directive_19

            10. there are a few ways to look at this conundrum, some inflammatory… I must admit

              “you are a little man with a little brain”
              (native north american indian saying before being slaughtered by “amuricans” after promises of freedom)

              we have succumbed
              no need to resist,
              believe what the government tells us,
              and the truth will set you free.

              “War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength.”

              “Those who control the past, control the future:

              who controls the present controls the past”

              (edward snowden knows this in spades)

              yeah right, just follow the legal path to spread the information and sure you will open the minds of the NSA and CIA and all will be well…..

              there is no avenue left for someone like edward to educate the masses, even the way he did the release, since FUD has destroyed the message as has happened to our poorly educated friend “backlash”

          2. I’m going to ignore the whole murder scenario you brought up because it’s not a terribly good analogy for what actually occurred.

            If Snowden had limited his public disclosures to illegal US wiretapping or the mass scanning and data harvesting of phone calls he might have been given a more sympathetic ear from the wider public. But he didn’t. Instead he let loose a steady torrent of sensitive information with hardly a thought as to what the consequences might be. that damaged US interests around the globe immeasurably.

            Snowden acted with the naiveté of a child and demonstrated a complete lack of responsibility for his position. He broke the faith with his coworkers, with the agency that hired him and, with the wider intelligence community in which he willfully inserted himself. The fact that some good was done by exposing the NSA’s illegal phone surveillance activities in no way excuses him from the indiscriminate carpet bombing of sensitive information he shortsightedly unleashed upon the world.

            Obama, who is certainly no right-winger, wants this guy prosecuted to the full extent of the law. This should tell you something about the nature of the acts he committed and the resulting damage that occurred.

            Oh by the way and back on topic, Go Apple!

    1. I don’t understand this mindset. This man exposed tremendous government abuses of power at great personal risk, and you’re angry at him for it? You’re angry at Snowden for letting you know the extent of your government’s pernicious and unconstitutional intrusion into your life?

      1. Yeah, and it’s still considered treason. It’s a thing it happened and whether you like the outcome or not, it’s treason. That makes no value judgement against the person, it’s just a description of the activity.

            1. But who actually commits treason, the one disregarding the basic tenets of the Nation, or those who disregard the basic tenets of the Nation to expose them?

              Yes

          1. If the founders of this country didn’t commit treason, we’d still be part of the British empire. God hail the Queen!

            Snowden committed treason to expose a corrupt government. He should be celebrated as a national hero in the same company of the fathers of this country.

  2. Facebook/Google blocked already (except when I’m using iOS..)
    Spideroak.. 2gb. while nice, I have other online storage accounts with 50gb of storage.. free. I don’t use them that much, but I have the accounts.
    Dropbox, I only use for a few things but i see his point.

  3. the problem with Facebook is that they can put words in your mouth like you said it yourself and it will hold up in court for search warrants and to even put someone in a psych ward. How do we know the authenticity of any post. We don’t. Just having a Facebook profile could open you up to being illegally jailed in the USA land of the free and home of the brave. Facebook is a censor and they are the leading discussion forum in our society and direct how so many people get their information. Everyone wake up before it is too late.

    1. “The difference between Dropbox and SpiderOak, as explained elsewhere, is that SpiderOak encrypts the data while it’s on your computer, as opposed to only encrypting it “in transit” and on the company’s servers.”

      Kinda see his point, if your computer is compromised then someone could get access to what you have in dropbox. then again.. if your computer is compromised.. you have other problems.

      I’ll give him 1/2 point for the Dropbox part.

      1. Condoleeza Rice holds the encryption keys for all your dropbox stuff. So No, you don’t need your computer to be compromised. Dropbox IS compromised already.

        by the way, Edward is a TRUE patriot. You merely believe that your government can do no wrong. I guess I would probably be the same if the first thing I did was salute the flag every morning for 10-15 years immediately after leaving the womb.

        1. wow.. a FORMER official has the current encryption keys to Dropbox?

          Do you even read what you post? or just throw shit against the wall in hopes something sticks?

          I do not believe the Government can do no wrong, cause a LOT of shit they do *IS* wrong. But the government is not all bad.. just parts of it.

          1. Ahh, just now found out She’s on the board of Dropbox, by reading your comment below.
            Did not know that, also do not care that she is.

            One member on the “board” wouldn’t have the ability to get into a users account though.. it would take all the members, and odds are if anyone member tried… it would be LEAKED to the press real fast.

            1. No i just don’t follow former officials around and attack them.

              I don’t care what anyone does once they leave office, unless they are breaking the law. (Which Condi is not)

      2. “I’ll give him 1/2 point for the Dropbox part.”

        I’ll deduct that half a point because you can encrypt data locally, and have it remain encrypted in transit and stored/synced in Dropbox.

    2. Dropbox supports some encryption, for data in transit, but it’s not a fully encrypted system. The difference between full and partial encryption is that one leaves open the possibility of getting hacked.

      Personally, I think complete encryption of EVERYTHING is more trouble than it’s worth, for most people (spies and dissidents excluded). it wastes time and it makes data recovery impossible in any scenario where the key is lost.

      I recommend putting saved passwords, financial information, anything-to-hide data on a separate fully encrypted system. But everything else, I use the convenience of semi-secure system (like on a hard drive in my possession, or a password protected web service.) This type of data can potentially be hacked by the government or anyone else with the resources and determination to violate constitutional privacy rights – so while I wish and advocate changing this broken system, I reluctantly accept I have to limit my non-encrypted data to being nothing-to-hide.

    1. Paranoid city!

      I don’t care whether or not a cloud storage service encrypts data, or how it manages access to encryption keys. If I put sensitive information out into the cloud (which I prefer not to do), I will add my own layer of encryption. If I don’t control the security of my own information, why should I trust anyone else to do that? As a practical matter, I use Dropbox in preference to others such as Box or SpiderOak. Why? Dropbox has a better business plan than does Box (which I doubt will be around much longer). For the truly paranoid, how do you know that NSA doesn’t have a backdoor to the encryption used by SpiderOak?

      I’m amazed by the hatred of Condeleeza Rice, a brilliant lady who has had a distinguished career in academia and public service, and is an accomplished musician as well.

      1. She is no brilliant lady. She is a war monger and war criminal together withe Bush and Cheney clans. Over a million people dead for lLIES that took us to Iraq. Iraq had NO weapons of mass destruction, NO complicity in 911, No ability to use Nigerian Yellow cake and NO ability to hit Europe in 45 minutes. THESE WERE ALL LIES. Lies concocted to steal OIL and grasp a strategic position in the Middle East. How did all this turn out for us? Not so well. Instead we have lost an enormous treasure (costing in the TRILLIONS) supporting a war that was suposed to last a “couple of weeks, a month at the most”. Iran ended up benefiting more than us, and there is no end in sight to the turmoil to this day. Yeah, great lady.

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