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How to Prepare for the New Era of Digital Surveillance

Electronic Frontier Foundation executive director Cindy Cohn on the most powerful spying apparatus that's ever existed: ours.

This Golden State is a podcast from veteran broadcast journalist Randy Shandobil. Click above to play.

San Francisco magazine and This Golden State podcast are collaborating on “The Resistance,” a portfolio devoted to the agitators, political leaders, and change agents who are fighting the incoming Trump administration on all fronts. San Francisco’s February issue will be devoted to the Resistance, with audio interviews conducted by veteran broadcast journalist Randy Shandobil, host of This Golden State. We’ll be posting Shandobil’s interviews online as they become available. 

Just before
President Obama left office, his administration unlocked the NSA's trove of raw communications data to the nation's 16 other intelligence agencies, leaving President Trump even more latitude to spy on Americans—if he and his administration decide that's their goal. And it may very well be, given Candidate Trump's desire to "spy on certain mosques" and his choice for CIA director, the pro-surveillance hawk Mike Pompeo.

The danger in all this, Electronic Frontier Foundation executive director Cindy Cohn tells This Golden State's Randy Shandobil, is that it has a chilling effect on speech. "Once people start worrying about what they can say online," she says, "they start self-censoring."

Cohn has some marching orders for anyone who doesn't want to see their smartphones turned into de facto spying devices: Pressure Silicon Valley companies to encrypt your data, and pressure the government to pull back on all the Stasi stuff.

Both of those things are hard. For starters, at least, here's this handy guide to protesting securely in the digital age.

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