You’ve heard of Google’s unofficial policy of “Don’t be evil“? No? Well, don’t sweat it, because it is a load of crap. It turns out that Google is about to respond to subpoenas in California court by turning over the IP addresses of some muckraking journalists from Turks & Caicos without even raising an argument. As WikiLeaks puts it,
Subpoenas for records are rubber-stamped by US courts, meaning that anyone in a position to start law suits in California can obtain private information about Gmail users who are not in a position to respond in kind, including cash-strapped corruption busting journalists from the Caribbean.
Google has elected to keep extensive, non-anoymized records on its users, but not defend these records from disclosure. This combination, together with inequitable access to justice in Californian courts, is toxic. Julian Assange
So, what are you, the independent journalist without a well-heeled legal department, to do about this? Step 1, as per usual, is to consult with the EFF and the Citizen Media Law Project and then follow their advice (I’m not always the best at this myself). Ultimately, and it isn’t pretty, the best solution is to setup your own email server and web server. That way, you only have to worry about your ISP selling you out.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go figure out a way to break my Gmail addiction, immediately if not sooner. If any of you have any great ideas about how to protect your anonymity while enjoying the bounty of the digital age, let me hear about it in the comments.