HTTP Secure, or HTTPS, allows for surveillance-free browsing, but they’re really only used by corporations for secure transactions. Can HTTPS help restore internet privacy after the civil liberties violations of recent years?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Tor Project have launched “launched an official 1.0 version of HTTPS Everywhere, a tool for the Firefox web browser that helps secure web browsing by encrypting connections to more than 1,000 websites.”
1,000 websites is hardly staggering, but we must start somewhere.
The EFF press release states, “HTTPS protects against numerous Internet security and privacy problems, including the search hijacking on U.S. networks that was revealed by an article published today in New Scientist magazine.” A company called Paxfire has been intercepting and “altering” the internet traffic of various ISP networks.
HTTPS would prevent this from happening by encrypting requests for certain pages and the displayed results. One can well imagine that the usual state counter-argument to this encryption will be, “But what about child pornography?” An ostensibly noble aim but a convenient cover for spying on a populace.
EFF’s Everywhere “make[s] it easier for people to keep their usernames, passwords, and browsing histories secure and private,” and also:
[E]ncrypts connections to Google Image Search, Flickr, Netflix, Apple, and news sites like NPR and the Economist, as well as dozens of banks. HTTPS Everywhere also includes support for Google Search, Facebook, Twitter, Hotmail, Wikipedia, the New York Times, and hundreds of other popular websites.
HTTPS Everywhere currently doesn’t work with Yahoo and Bing search engines because the sites don’t support HTTPS.
One must then ask: Do certain websites and search engines not support HTTPS because of government pressure? We famously saw Amazon buckle under pressure from Senator Joe Lieberman to drop WikiLeaks from its servers. Could the same be happening with Yahoo and Microsofts’s Bing search engine?
Hopefully, however, the EFF and Tor’s efforts with HTTPS Everywhere will create a movement toward a more secure and free internet.
But count on the government machinations that will create new “legal” measures to get around HTTPS.
To download HTTPS Everywhere for Firefox:
For more on implementing HTTPS in websites:
Interested in The Tor Project’s Tor Relays? Read my article “EFF’s Tor Challenge Creates 549 New Tor Relays: Vive le Anonymous Activism.”