How to Hide Your Digital Communications from Big Brother

J.P. Hicks
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Big Brother is hoping to eliminate anonymous digital communication, but a new messaging protocol may provide privacy advocates a way around their snooping government no matter where they live.

It couldn't come at a better time as governments increasingly demand access to private communications.

In fact, an FBI whistleblower recently revealed that all digital communications are being recorded and stored by the U.S. government.

Since most emails, instant messaging, and all voice calls (land line, cell or internet) run through central service providers that database all user activity, the government has easy access to this information upon request, secret subpoenas or even backdoors to these services to view private communications in real time.

The Associated Press was recently violated by the Department of Justice who, with a secret subpoena, forced service providers to hand over phone records of AP's reporters and central offices.

The U.S. government claims the authority to track, trace, and database all electronic communications in order to keep us safe. Despite the obvious intrusion of privacy, it clearly has the intent to spy on all communications and is actively seeking expanded legal cover and technological advances for full spectrum digital surveillance.

Large central service providers make this nefarious goal possible.

But as the government cracks down on Web privacy, a new decentralized communication protocol called Bitmessage has emerged to offer an easy way for people to send and receive encrypted messages.

What is Bitmessage?

Bitmessage is a peer-to-peer encrypted messaging protocol that allows people to communicate anonymously.

Bitmessage's official description is as follows:

Bitmessage is a P2P communications protocol used to send encrypted messages to another person or to many subscribers. It is decentralized and trustless, meaning that you need-not inherently trust any entities like root certificate authorities. It uses strong authentication which means that the sender of a message cannot be spoofed, and it aims to hide "non-content" data, like the sender and receiver of messages, from passive eavesdroppers like those running warrantless wiretapping programs. (Source)

Based loosely on Bitcoin's open-source protocol, Bitmessage utilizes the computer power of decentralized users to process the messages making them essentially impossible to track. Addresses are made up of 36 random characters as opposed to a name and other personal information that email services require.

Example Bitmessage address: BM‐2nTX1KchxgnmHvy9ntCN9r7sgKTraxczzyE

In their white paper, the Bitmessage developers emphasize that privacy was their main motivation for creating it:

Hiding one’s identity is difficult. Even if throw‐away email addresses are used, users must connect to an email server to send and retrieve messages, revealing their IP address.

...if just one of those organizations is run by a government agency, and if they have certain network hardware in place between users and destination servers, then they would be able to perform a targeted man‐in‐the‐middle attack of ostensibly secure communications at will...

What is needed is a communications protocol and accompanying software that encrypts messages, masks the sender and receiver of messages from others, and guarantees that the sender a message cannot be spoofed, without relying on trust and without burdening the user with the details of key management.

The addresses not only emphasize privacy but guarantee sender verification:

While certainly more cumbersome than an email address, it is not too much to type manually or it can be made into a QR‐code. Users have already demonstrated this to be acceptable as Bitcoin addresses are similar in format and length. This address format is superior to email in that it guarantees that a message from a particular user or organization did, in fact, come from them. The sender of a message cannot be spoofed.

Though it may sound complicated, Bitmessage makes it easy for anyone to communicate anonymously. Once the program is downloaded on your computer, you just need to set "Your Identities", "Passphrase", and "Addresses" in your Bitmessage folder which is much like a Bitcoin "wallet".

Then it works similarly to email where you choose from one of your "From" addresses to compose a message to "Send" to another address. The message's encryption is then "processed" by the peer-to-peer network of servers and delivered to the recipient's "wallet" (Bitmessage folder) on their personal computer. The "stream" or "proof of work" takes roughly four minutes to process the message to the recipient.

Bitmessage also offers a "broadcast" feature for mass announcements. So if you run an organization, website or blog with a newsletter, you can send anonymous "broadcasts" to subscribers. Meanwhile, subscribers can sign up without giving out their email address or anything that links them to the information.

Just as Bitcoin has the potential to displace centralized currencies, Bitmessage may be the future of free and private communication. As the government increases its Big Brother spying on average citizens, Bitmessage proves that freedom will always find a way.

Watch the video below for more information about Bitmessage:

Get started with Bitmessage here.

Another great resource for how to get started with Bitmessage:

J.P. Hicks is an entrepreneur, info-activist, pro blogger, editor of and author of Secrets to Making Money with a Free Blog. Follow @ Twitter, or like on Facebook.

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8 Respones to "How to Hide Your Digital Communications from Big Brother"

Anonymous said...

One just has to be sure that Bitmessage is not a government entity providing a """"secret""" messaging center for those that may want it most for "legal" purposes.

June 2, 2013 at 6:36 PM
Anonymous said...

packets are still sent through central ip's and "free" for capture at those points...albeit a little trickier to look at...bottom line is if government powers want to...they can record every packet that comes from devices they know to be yours...they don't even have to have fake servers to capture...
what about peer to peer with 24/7 noise and signals embedded and the key to signal passed in non-digital means ?

June 3, 2013 at 4:32 AM
JP Hicks said...

Honestly, the gov't or anything other central entity cannot capture a decentralized messaging system. Perhaps with astonishing computing power they may be able to track communications to certain IP addresses etc. Yet, the process would be extremely cumbersome and still not directly reveal the user's identity.

The gov't can't stop illegal drugs transacted with Bitcoin at Silk Road, what makes you think they can stop or track this type of messaging?

Anonymous said...

ya ya totally legit, accept now someone on the end of smartmail knows your #$%^ too lol..... you want big broher to stop watching,,, its called pen and paper

June 3, 2013 at 10:58 PM
Justin said...

I'm pretty sure the government can open an envelope.

June 4, 2013 at 6:52 PM
Anonymous said...

Unless one is communicating client to client directly or encrypting packets using a form of key encryption that only the two clients know are familiar with (and this encryption key between the client changes every so many hours), then there is no way for destination and source traffic to be hidden.
Even in a peer to peer network, there always has to be a destination IP and from that a source IP (even if it is the previous hop). In that aspect it can be tracked.
Unless we come out with an open protocol for peer to peer channel and packet encryption once IPv6 takes hold and every single device in the world has an IP address or we discover the true capabilities of quantum data transfer, then we will not have a true means of securing data from big brother.

June 6, 2013 at 11:06 PM
Anonymous said...

Are ham radio dial-up to BBS communications possible? Can Amerika scramble it? Can they scramble or block those signals during the final lock-down?

June 28, 2013 at 8:27 PM
donnie harris said...

We that have relied on our ability to communicate with our fellows has created a way to stop all meaningful communication at all from happening as a result of our creativity.

July 26, 2013 at 8:18 AM

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