Conversations about life & privacy in the digital age

Privacy Roundup #7 of 2013

August is upon us and summer in the northern hemisphere is in full swing. And although it seems like yesterday, news of PRISM broke several months ago and Edward Snowden continues to be firmly in the conversation. Further, the US government has been under relentless pressure from foreign governments, congressmen, senators, and companies for what many consider a very intrusive information gathering policy.

For this roundup we did try to include some links to news other then the aforementioned but – as you can tell below – we still felt obligated to include several PRISM / NSA related coverage as the associated privacy issues are still significant.

Click away and catch up on some of what has been going on in the world of online privacy and security in the last month:

From our perspective, we are happy to see a national and international debate rising around privacy and its growing importance in the online world in which we live. This will be a significant issue of our time as we need to understand where lines should be drawn and who is responsible for drawing them. Finding a fitting quote to end this privacy roundup with was not a terribly difficult task in light of this recent news.

“Big Brother is Watching You.” ― George Orwell, 1984


  1. Seth Ra says:

    Hi there!
    Today, an email-service which offered a privacy-policy not unlike SpiderOak’s “Zero Knowledge Policy” decided to shut down. Shortly after, another encrypted communications service followed suit.
    (link to article:
    It would be nice to hear some thought from the SpiderOak team about this.

  2. martin says:

    how would you react if you were to receive an national security letter?

    e. g. you could give them access to your user accounts if those users use their webinterface to access their data.

    So what would you do if you were forced to do this?

  3. Eric says:

    I also want to hear comments from SpiderOak on what they plan to do when the NSA comes knocking. Are you guys going to roll over and install backdoors for them? Will you abruptly close shop like Lavabit did?

  4. Open Source Please says:

    Please open source your complete client so people can have more confidence in your service (and not just your words). It’s even more pertinent now with all the NSA related leaks and such. Dodging this by saying you have open sourced a lot does not qualify – you either open source everything or it’s meaningless. I’m a happy SpiderOak customer, but would really like to have more proof than mere words.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’m getting pretty nervous about US Gov. bullying service providers inside the US too. Especially after Lavabit and Silent Circle shutting down some of their services, and not even being able to talk about it, due to Secret Letters sent by US Gov.

    I understand that SpiderOak receives hashed passwords, sent by customers SpiderOak client software, but I’m afraid if SpiderOak receive a National Security Letter, you will be forced to install a backdoor into your software if requested to do so.

    SpiderOak has been great, and I love the service, but I’m starting to think it might be too risky to do business with US based cloud service providers due to Secret FISA gag orders. :(

  6. Ethan Oberman says:

    @ Previous Commenters: Thank you for sending along your thoughts and reactions to all that has been going on over the last few weeks. The concept of privacy has escalated to a new height of awareness in this country.

    I will be releasing a more comprehensive blogpost soon that clearly defines our stance on many of the issues raised above as well as our plans moving forward. Rest assured, privacy is not just something we use as a marketplace differentiator but a tenant we believe in very deeply. It is from this place of care and commitment that we developed SpiderOak and we will continue to maintain that essential right to privacy afforded to us all. Again – more on these topics soon.