Given the gloomy reality that even if we were to migrate to a new set of *internet-based* apps someone clever and resourced enough to crack a code will do so, regardless.  

Really, the fact is that if we are going to use the *internet* we’re going to be exposed to PRISM and probably several other as-yet-unknown advanced spyware systems.  One of my all-time favourite films is “enemy of the state” (1998) with actors Will Smith and Gene Hackman, which 15 years ago gave us some scary insights of governments’ ability to poke around our private lives.  That was then.  Today the technology must be so much more advanced.  I’m not paranoid, but I spent a uncomfortable amount of time in *pre-independence* Namibia where, simply because of my *association* with friends considered to be “enemies of the state”, my post was opened, my phone was tapped and our social gatherings were subdued by the likely presence of informants.  


PRISM – Intelligence director Clapper said in his *declassified* description that the US government can’t get information using Prism unless there is an “appropriate, and documented, foreign intelligence purpose for the acquisition (such as for the prevention of terrorism, hostile cyber activities, or nuclear proliferation) and the foreign target is reasonably believed to be outside the US.”  (The US Department of Defense overall spends about $1.5 billion a year on basic (i.e., pure, not applied) research – that’s stuff which doesn’t kill, directly :-)).

So that means that unless I’m using some hectic form of *encryption*, I’m likely to be “picked-up” virtually as soon as I (or my *associates*) use any terminology which is *flagged/tagged* for further *classified* investigation – words such as jiha… oops! There – I’ve just set off alarm bells at Fort Mea… (oops again!) and all my stuff will be examined with a higher level of interest.  Why?  Because I’m a *foreigner* using a mail server which requires several hops between me in Namibia and it (going via routers based in EU and US).  

What to do (WTD)? 

Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt.  If you feel you need to. 

I’ve looked over the diverse options provided on the prism-break site.  I do like the clever name!  It provides a good set of alternatives to the conventional OS apps and resources that gazillions of people use all over the world.  

However, I’ve looked at the *paucity* of humans engaged with such alternative apps, sites and resources (Mumble has only been downloaded 80,500 times!), and frankly, I’m not convinced that throwing away my smart phone,  putting on an aluminium hat and hanging out with people like Richard Stallman will give me the same camaraderie and satisfaction I get from existing social networks – including list-serves like this one!)  where I’m pretty sure most of my family, friends, and colleagues hang out. 

And I simply have no idea how to up the popularity stakes of apps like Mumble!  Crowd-sourcing perhaps? 

So, should we opt out ? I don’t think so.  The concept of ‘privacy’ is rapidly evolving in our younger generations if one listens to folks like danah boyd (see  In particular, she argues that teenagers are evolving an effective (Social) steganography –  an age-­old tactic of hiding information in plain sight, driven by the notion of “security through obscurity”.  Perhaps we can learn some lessons from this, and apply a new set of rules to the manner in which we associate ‘freely’. 

I don’t have anything to hide, but I appreciate that many, many others do, at the risk of losing their lives, income and freedoms! Perhaps we can help others by sharing resources like prism-break and tactical technology collective ( in the use of data, design and technology for campaigning and helping activists understand and manage their digital security and privacy risks.  Perhaps we can co-host an African info-activism camp?  

Best, Joris@Namibia

On Wed, Jun 12, 2013, at 21:24, Dorothy K. Gordon wrote:

> I would like to know if this would really be enough to create an opt out?
> People let us here from you.

> Culled from bytes4all

> Opt out of PRISM, the NSA’s global data surveillance program. Stop
> reporting your online activities to the American government with these
> free alternatives to proprietary software.


> best regards

> Dorothy K. Gordon
> Director-General
> Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT
> Mobile: 233 265005712
> Direct Line: 233 302 683579
> Website:
> Encrypt Everything –


Read my blog

Posted in #Idlelo6, #OpenSF, Crowdmapping, danah boyd, EduNet Namibia, FOSS, FOSSFA, ICT4D, Ict4e, PRISM, schoolnet, social steganography, Stallman, tatejoris

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