Almost Fearless

Email Around the World




I was in surgery last week — I’m recovering now (thank you for those who asked!) — but I have been following the US scandal on spying on US citizens via phone or email. At this point, you can have a private, encrypted, totally safe text, phone or video conversation from the guy who invented PGP (pretty good protection, aka the encryption most people use) at Silent Circlebut email is never safe.

In the last week, two very popular encrypted email services (Lavabit and Silent Circle) shut down. I don’t even use encrypted email but this freaked me out. See this very long, but interesting video that explains exactly why that is:

Do you travel overseas?

The crazy thing is to think of any government in the world having access to your email — intellectual property, IP, location, information or anything you send.

I don’t know, I hardly think about these things because I feel like, “well I have nothing to hide” and yet… what would it take? A negative post about China? A complaining tweet about Vietnam? Then visiting a year later and finding myself on a list? Paranoid? Yes. Absolutely. This has never happened to anyone I know… yet… I have seven years of archives on Gmail. SEVEN! What if I said the wrong thing? What if someone WANTS to make a case against me?

Okay, maybe my surgery meds are making me paranoid, but there it is… passing the info along… he says, “I don’t know a single power that the US has ever granted itself that it has ever been able to pull back.”

Something to think about, maybe not for immediate action, but in the coming years. Maybe just avoid politics (criticizing the Thai King for example) via email. Or start a peer-to-peer super encrypted email system. Tell me when you do, I want to sign up.

“Your ability to communicate around the world is literally under attack under every corner.”


Christine Gilbert

I’ve been dragging my husband around the world since 2008 always with the promise that, “Yes, Drew there will definitely be hammocks there.”



  • Thanks for putting this out there on your blog too! Freedom of speech is something we all take for granted in the western world and attention needs to be paid to what is happening around us. Glad you are feeling better. Thanks for putting me on to DuoLingo!

  • Really Christine? lol – I do think it’s the meds. 😉

    While such is arguably food for thought, in this case – (though why, I’ll never know, but I listened to every blessed word of the 34+, and…) to me it was clearly just ONE.BIG.INFOMERCIAL.

  • It may have been the pain meds, but it’s true none-the-less. As communicators we have to share our thoughts, but now there is this whole other “thing” to worry about. If you find that encryption service please send me an invite. 🙂

  • As an avid user of Lavabit, I cried when it went down. This is DIRECT interference by the government into our privacy (4th Amend.), our ability to communicate without fear (1st Amend.), and many other “rights” we thought we had as Americans. I am your average baby-boomer and harbor no thoughts of harm to anyone, but I also believe it is my right to share discourse about any subject I choose with anyone I choose.

    In the wake of the Boston marathon bombings, residents of Watertown were ordered by police to stay inside and then subjected to involuntary searches of their homes. Besides the obvious violations of the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee of the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, Watertown citizens were eyewitnesses to SWAT officers dressed in combat gear using weapons and riding in vehicles more at home in the battlefield than suburbia. I found the militarization of the search for the marathon bomber to be quite disturbing but what I found even more disturbing is the fact that more people did not find it disturbing, A dangerous precedent was set in Watertown and the surrounding cities and I believe it was a trial run and I expect more of it in the future.

    It seems that every time we turn around our governments are taking another inch in their goal to take a mile. We have a War on Drugs, a War on Terror, a militarized Homeland Security, a militarized emergency response group called FEMA, we have 72 unexplained FEMA camps, we have DHS stockpiling billions of rounds of ammunition, soon we will have our skies full of drones and cameras on every corner, and, of course, we have NDAA, which allows a President to decide to have the military arrest Americans without due process.

    While we consider bombing a sovereign state (Syria), we are surveilled by the NSA, harassed by the IRS, have quietly built prisons-for-profit which must have a guarantee of incoming persons, are subject to “civil forfeiture” of our property even when innocent of any crime, can be charged and tried as a “terrorist” if we cause financial harm to any “animal enterprise” (see 2006 Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, think big pharma), may face years in prison for “vandalism” for writing anti-banking graffiti on sidewalks with chalk (see Jeff Olson), and most scary, we have lost our rights to not have the military used against US citizens on US soil (see 32 CFR 185.4 Policy) whenever *any* local, state, or federal entity decides it’s needed.

    When will the American people stand up and say enough already? What the #%$ are we leaving for our children and grandchildren????

  • Here are some ways to send email:

    1. try Infoencrypt free software for a PC
    2. try SafeGMail free encryption email by Google where only you and the recipient know the code

    Macs have Preview which allows the user to encrypt the document. Send this as an attachment, and the code in another email.

    Thankfully, developers have created ways to avoid the NSA!!

    • I recently bought a PC because I’m overseas and couldn’t get my Mac fixed. I had to — FORCED to give microsoft my email address in order to use Windows 8 and log into my brand new machine. If I want to use MS Office, they have my name, address, credit card, email, everything. Same with adobe. It just bothers me that it’s not even an option to be invisible. If I buy a computer with cash, is it even possible to get online, send emails, use these programs without ever disclosing my IP or identity? I think we gave away a lot in the last 10 years and no one is really thinking about what it means. And yeah here I am disclosing so much of my life online, but that’s not the point! When I get my new mac I’m going to see if I can set it up 100% secure without a trace of my identity on it. Just to see.

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