Is Big Brother Blocking Your Mail?
You send an email to a reporter saying that you’ve got proof of criminal wrongdoing by a government official … or a big bank. You never receive a response.
Or you send an email to an expert on monetary policy asking if the Federal Reserve’s policies help the rich at the expense of the little guy … or an expert on radiation asking if the Fukushima accident might endanger public health. You never receive a response.
This might be for any number of perfectly innocent reasons, including:
- Your email ended up in their spam folder
- They’re busy
- They’re not interested enough to write back
- They think you’re a bore or a crank
But there could be another explanation …
By way of background, China has blocked gmail for its citizens.
Yahoo blocked emails relating to the Occupy protests.
Tunisia monitored and blocked the emails of activists, so they were never delivered. For example:
There is also technical surveillance whereby downloading or adding attachment to an email must go through a central server. Under the pretext of protecting public order and national security, a 1998 post and telecommunications law enables the authorities to intercept and check the content of email messages and in fact electronic surveillance such as filtering of email messages of government opponents have been reported. Global Voices Advocacy Director and Tunisia Activist Sami Ben Gharbia conducted a test from the Netherlands with two Tunisia-based activists and confirmed by logging to their email accounts from the Netherland that what he sees is not what they receive when they login from Tunisia, and that they cannot access some of the messages they receive.
The Tunisian government used software from Western companies to block emails of political dissidents.
A prominent American political writer said that – if Tunisia is doing it – you can bet that Western countries are, as well.
Indeed, Snowden revealed that the British spy agency GCHQ has developed numerous offensive digital tools, including:
Ability to deny functionality to send/receive email or view material online.
Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity.
Mass delivery of email messaging to support an Information Operations campaign.
The potential for stifling dissent is staggering.