If you think your emails, texts, or other electronic messages are safe from prying eyes, think again.
“Most of the things that we send everyday are electronically naked and when these communications are observed, they can be intercepted, they can be abused, they can be subverted to purposes that are contrary to the intent of the person who originally sent it,” Edward Snowden said during an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson on StarTalk Radio Show released Friday.
“Electronically naked” is Snowden’s way of describing unencrypted communications sent across the internet.
The primary reason so many communications are still left unprotected is because the infrastructure used to send things over the internet was simply not designed with these privacy issues in mind, Snowden said during the interview.
“The problem is due to the practicality of how the engineering of these systems was designed back in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, we inherited architectures that did not foresee the problem of electronic interception by both civil and private authorities that would sort of interfere and do whatever they want with them,” Snowden said. “So now our expectation of privacy is being abused.”
Encryption is a hot button issue these days.
Major internet companies have historically not used powerful encryption tools to protect their communication products. But that is beginning to change in large part because of the backlash caused by the Snowden.
Snowden allegedly stole some 1.77 million NSA documents during his time working for the US government agency. According to some of his leaked documents, one way the government kept tabs on people was by tapping into the servers of several large internet firms, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo to track their online communications.
Since the revelation, tech companies have begun to implement stronger encryption measures across their customer data, which has spurred some tension with US authorities including the FBI and the Justice Department. For example, Apple heavily encrypts iMessages so it couldn’t share their content with the government even if it wanted to. The government is basically afraid that stronger encryption could hamper some of their criminal investigations.
But according to Snowden, as long as encryption is lacking, online privacy exists for no one.
Check out the full interview on StarTalk’s website.
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