Beware! Big Brother may be monitoring what you do online, and there is absolutely no way to tell for sure! Echelon is the name of the beast. It is an automated global interception and relay system that is run by the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Echelon has actually been around for 30 years, but it was mainly used to capture satellite traffic and tap international phone lines. In recent years, however, the government agencies responsible for this intrusion of privacy have also started tapping into internet traffic and major nodes with packet sniffers, which allow them to see the data that is transmitted (unless, of course, it has been encrypted).
The American Civil Liberties Union has put together a website to encourage discussion about Echelon and to keep people up-to-date on the latest Echelon news. You'll find information about this threat at http://www.echelonwatch.org/ .
So, how do you encrypt your e-mail so that it isn't as easy for people to read? The most popular way is probably via the Pretty Good Privacy public-key encryption technology. PGP allows you to encode your messages so that only those that have the key to read them can decode them. You can download a free version of PGP, and get a bit more information at http://www.pgp.com/products/freeware/default.asp .
If you want to surf the web anonymously, so that nobody can get your computer's address, then Safeweb (https://www.safeweb.com/) is a good bet. It is a free service that offers encryption and masking, as well as protecting your computer from programs that try to change your configuration. You might have to change the configuration a bit to visit certain sites, but that hassle may be worth it if you want (or need) to be anonymous.
EPIC, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (http://www.epic.org/) is another great resource for privacy information. EPIC provides updates on the latest legislation working its way through Congress, as well as alerts and other resources on Cyber privacy. Check it out.
As long as I'm being political this month, I might as well continue on with more interesting politically-oriented websites. 2600 is the Hacker Quarterly, and it has been around forever. I was hoping their website would have more articles from the magazine, but at least it has hacker related news reports and audio files of OFF THE HOOK, the 2600 radio show. You'll find all of this at http://www.2600.com/ .
Next up is the online bookstore leftbooks.com, which, as you might have guessed, specializes in left-wing literature. From Peltier to Mumia, Media Analysis to Marxism, Leftbooks has pretty good selection of reading. Plus, you can get it gift wrapped! -- http://www.leftbooks.com/ .
If it is online Anarchy you are looking for (and really, who isn't) then you'll want to make http://www.infoshop.org/ one of your first stops. Infoshop.org has information of interest to anarchists, activists, and anti-authoritarians on subjects ranging from the Anti-capitalist movement to Pirate radio. Heck, they even have an anti-internet section.
Another website that covers a lot of different topics of interest to the underground community is Disinformation (http://www.disinfo.com/). While most of the writers and editors of Disinformation are left-leaning, their website contains information and opinions from all sides of the political spectrum. Tons and tons of material here on every controversial subject under the sun.
Speaking of controversial subjects, Gray Areas is a print magazine who's stated purpose is to "explore subject matter which is illegal, immoral and/or controversial." This ranges from sex and prostitution to hacking and drugs. Lots of interesting articles presented in a non-judgmental manner. Fortunately, many of their articles are available for free at their website -- http://www.grayarea.com/ .
And my final site for the month is that of the Coalition Against the American Correctional Association at http://stoptheACA.org/ . The Coalition argues that the goals of prisons have become those of punishment rather than rehabilitation. Of course, that's what prisons have always been, but now there are big bucks to be made because of the privatization of the prison industry.
Okay, that's all I have time for this month. Perhaps next time around
I'll toss some music sites your way. Remember to e-mail me if you
have a kick-ass site you'd like to see in these pages -- firstname.lastname@example.org
. I'll give my PO Box Address, though none of you ever write me --
PO Box 8059; Santa Cruz CA 95062. See ya.