Archive for December 19th, 2005

The NSA isn’t all bad…

Concerned, in light of recent events, that the NSA might have a file on you? Well, it turns out the NSA makes it really easy to file a Privacy Act request about yourself. How easy? If you have a PGP or GPG key, or other way of creating a meaningful electronic signiature, you can email them your request. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

As far as I know, the NSA – perhaps understandably – is the first – so far, only – federal agency that accepts digital signiatures in lieu of holographic signiatures for Privacy Act requests.

If you don’t have PGP or GPG, go get one – or both! In this day and age, there’s really no excuse not to have, and use, a public-key cryptosystem for, at the very least, email. Encryption has come a long way in the last couple years; the old horribly complicated command-line-only programs have been joined by a number of extraordinarily user-friendly pieces of software that integrate smoothly with various popular mailreaders.

Even if you don’t think you have any pressing need for encryption – even if you believe that honest men have nothing to fear from their, or other, governments, you should still get – and use! – cryptographic software. Why?

Because you still can.

Update: You can see the NSA’s response to my PA request here. Most people’s responses will be identical, I expect.

Published in: Geekiness, General, Security | on December 19th, 2005 | 4 Comments »