Think the government is watching you? You're probably right.

But for the rest of us, we can turn to Surveillance Self-Defense to educate us about the law and technology of communications surveillance, computer searches and seizures -- and more importantly, how to keep your private data out of other peoples' grimy little hands.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has developed an online how-to guide for protecting your private data against government spying.

The guide includes tips on assessing the security risks to personal computer files and communications, strategies for interacting with law enforcement, and articles on specific defensive technologies such as encryption that can help protect the privacy of your data.

Sure, it seems a bit doomsday, but hey, those of us in the digital info business already know, privacy is whithering fast, if it's not already just a fantasy.

From the Guide

First, we learn about risk management and the "four distinct but interrelated concepts when considering security decisions"  then it's onto how to protect data on your personal computer, how to avoid being wiretapped and the legal rules that govern when and how law enforcement agents can obtain information stored by and with third parties.

It's a lot of information to process, but there are some useful tidbits, similar to those we have continually espouse when talking about governance, risk and compliance (GRC):

Learning Opportunities

  • Establish a retention policy
  • Do not destroy evidence
  • Encrypt your data
  • Maintain your firewalls
  • Keep software updated

If the internet is a "giant vacuum cleaner" -- as EFF Staff Technologist Peter Eckersley says it is -- then the Surveillance Self-Defense is like an anti-Dyson, ensuring that nothing gets sucked up without proper encryption and surveillance.

Being that the EFF is a civil liberties group that works to defend our rights in the digital world, who can blame them for being paranoid. And while the rest of us might scoff at the notion that we're being watched, it's our opinion that it's worth the time and energy to know the risks and be familiar with your options.

EFF Needs Your Help

The EFF describe themselves as the first line of defense when our freedoms in the networked world come under attack. Frankly, we're rather pleased that they exist.

If you share this sentiment, we recommend that you donate to the cause. Curious what they've actually accomplished? From defending journalists to getting compensation for wronged consumers, EFF has made their presence and beliefs felt. Take a look at their list of victories.