The German government is worried that Palantir's software, which is used by law enforcement agencies to gather and analyze large amounts of data, may not be sufficiently secure and could lead to inadvertent access to private details about citizens who are not the target of any criminal investigation. According to a report by Wired, a feature of Palantir's Gotham platform allows police to map networks of phone contacts, placing law-abiding people including activists, journalists and lawyers effectively under surveillance.
Last week a German court ruled the Hamburg law unconstitutional and issued strict guidelines for the first time about how automatic data analysis tools like Palantir's can be used by police, and it warned against the inclusion of data belonging to bystanders. The ruling said that the Hamburg law, and a similar law in Hesse, "allow police, with just one click, to create comprehensive profiles of persons, groups, and circles," without differentiating between suspects and people whose phone numbers might be part of larger contact networks that includes suspects.
The decision did not ban Palantir's Gotham tool, it only limited the way police can use it.
So, what can individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations do to protect their privacy in countries using tools like Palantir's? One option is to use an end-to-end encrypted service like Tutanota, with servers based in Germany, to keep personal messages and sensitive information secure from prying eyes. Here's why:
End-to-end encryption ensures that only the sender and recipient of a message can access its contents. This means that even if a third party, such as a law enforcement agency, were to intercept the message, they would only see encrypted data. This is a crucial aspect of online privacy, particularly in an age where governments are increasingly using technology to monitor and surveil their citizens.
Using an encrypted email provider is especially important in light of recent revelations about government surveillance programs and about cyber-attacks that compromise the security of traditional email services.
By choosing a service with servers based in Germany, individuals can take advantage of some of the strictest data protection laws in the world. Last week's ruling limiting Palantir's powers is just the most recent example. Germany's Federal Data Protection Act, for instance, sets out strict rules around how personal data can be collected, stored, and used. When you create an email address with a service that is subject to these laws, private individuals as well as professionals and companies can be confident that their data is being handled in a responsible and ethical manner.
It's also important to keep in mind that Tutanota is an open-source service, which means that anyone can review the code and ensure that it is free from backdoors or other security vulnerabilities. This is in contrast to closed-source services, where users have to rely on the company's good faith to ensure the security of their data.
But Tutanota is not just a secure email service, it's also one of the best email services available, with clients for iOS, Android, Windows, Linux and macOS devices, as well as a browser version. It offers a range of features that make it easy to create and manage email accounts, including a user-friendly interface and the ability to create multiple email aliases, use a custom email domain and even use your own branding with the whitelabel option.
If you want to find out more about how to send a secure email by using built-in encryption, our email encryption guide for newbies lets you send your first end-to-end encrypted email in seconds, right after you have finished reading.
This court ruling should serve as a wake-up call for anyone concerned about their online privacy. The recent concerns about Palantir's big data dragnet underscore the importance of protecting your data.
Encrypted email services like Tutanota are a powerful tool for keeping personal messages and sensitive information secure from prying eyes. By using a secure email service that offers end-to-end encryption, user-friendly features, and built-in compliance with strict data protection laws, individuals can take control of their online privacy and protect themselves from inadvertent access to private details about them by authorities or bad-faith actors.
It's worth noting that Tutanota is not the only secure email service available. There are many other options, including ProtonMail, ZohoMail, Skiff and Mailfence, to name just a few, but none of the others encrypt as much data as Tutanota, host the data exclusively in Germany or avoid integrating with closed-source third-party tools.
With its strongest encryption protocols, compliance with strict data protection laws, and open-source code, Tutanota is a solid choice for those looking to safeguard their online privacy.
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