Reddit and Others Spearhead Anti-NSA Privacy Campaign

The National Security Agency (NSA) can access your social media and email, whether you're living in the United States or overseas. Over the last few months, Internet users have discovered that if they value their privacy, they must take Internet security into their own hands. Reset the Net, an Internet privacy campaign with some of the Internet's favorite hangouts supporting it, encourages them to do just that.

The names supporting Reset the Net are impressive, including Reddit, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Imgur, Amnesty International and Boing Boing. The NSA is not likely to curtail its surveillance operations, argues the initiative. However, everyday users can use a plethora of tools at their disposal to protect their data.

MORE: 12 Mobile Privacy and Security Apps

"The NSA is exploiting weak links in Internet security to spy on the entire world, twisting the Internet we love into something it was never meant to be: a panopticon," the Reset the Net website explains. To browse the Internet, chat and email privately, Reset the Net recommends a privacy pack of software including Adium and Pidgin for chatting, Textsecure and Redphone for secure phone calls, HTTPS Everywhere for Web browsing, GPGtools and Enigmail for personal encryption and TOR for those who don't mind doing some legwork to ensure total browser privacy.

On June 5, the campaign will also take more proactive steps to protest NSA surveillance. Websites can join the Reset the Net campaign to display a splash screen promoting Internet privacy (and the software pack), and everyday users can join a social media protest called Thunderclap. The campaign also encourages website owners to add SSL certifications to their websites.

While Reset the Net's recommendations are all good ones, it's important to remember that the NSA can still get its hands on whatever data it pleases, no matter how many layers of privacy or encryption it's behind. Where these programs come in handy is that it makes your data more trouble than it's worth for the NSA to acquire it.

Of course, by that logic, your data will probably remain just as private even if you don't lift a finger: Unless you are actively breaking the law or consorting with criminals, the NSA does not have any interest in your data, nor does it have the resources to sift through it. Securing your data is often more a matter of principle than of necessity.

Still, the principle is a good one for all those who value their privacy online. If you believe that the government should not be able to access your private data without a warrant, consider following Reset the Net's recommendations.

Follow Marshall Honorof @marshallhonorofand on Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi. 

  • southernshark
    "You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide."
  • Darkk
    "The campaign also encourages website owners to add SSL certifications to their websites."

    You realize of course NSA already have the keys to the CAs around the world so any SSL keys generated by them are not safe. Only self generated keys are safe, problem is it's not signed by a CA so users will get that warning.

    For personal use it's fine but won't work for business.
  • coolitic
    "You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide."

    Except NSA messing with internet security opens the pathway for hackers to use their backdoors/methods which could compromise security.
  • danwat1234
  • virtualban
    "You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide."
    Nothing to fear in your shopping habits, movie habits, porn habits. And yet, some things are best not known around.
  • skuzzle butt
    I personally don't care. I'm not doing anything illegal it's not like it's an actual person. Just a bunch of computers scanning for certain phrases and giving them an alert when it pings on one. So I gotta ask what are you doing that's so private that you're afraid of the government knowing about? Hell you when you go to the doctor they have the information right there. Scan for the bad guys hiding in the endless mass of morons clucking about things they know nothing about. Wouldn't be surprised if you dopes believe 9/11 was a conspiracy too.