The story is in: e-mails encrypted with encryption are on the rise, and we’re not the only ones.
The US government is taking a page from the encryption playbook.
On Friday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published a postscript urging Americans to embrace the latest tech, and urged anyone with access to a private e- mail account to take advantage of encryption for their own protection.
The letter from the FCC, published by the US Government Accountability Office, was written by a spokesman for the agency’s Office of the General Counsel.
In the letter, which the FCC declined to publish, the spokesman cited research from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which found that nearly two-thirds of all US emails sent or received in the last five years had at least one encrypted message.
While encryption is not yet a universally embraced technology, it’s become increasingly popular in recent years and is increasingly common in US and foreign communications.
“E-mail is one of the most ubiquitous and pervasive technologies, with an enormous number of users and uses, and the FBI, the Department of Justice, and others have been using encryption to protect communications for decades,” the FCC spokesman wrote.
“Encryption is used by many government entities and businesses, including the United States Postal Service, which uses it to protect millions of letters in the mail.”
The FCC’s postscript comes at a time when the US government has been actively promoting encryption and the importance of strong encryption in communications.
In December, the US Department of Homeland Security announced the creation of a “digital homeland security plan” that includes a plan to “develop a new method for encrypting the contents of e-messages, documents, and other data to make it more difficult for cybercriminals to intercept them and share them with others.”
In May, the Trump administration ordered the US Postal Service to create “the strongest and most secure encryption possible” for all of its e-commerce services.
In May 2018, the FCC issued a statement asking the government to “adopt a plan that supports a robust, efficient, and effective system of secure electronic mail.”
On Wednesday, the agency published its own letter, stating that it was not seeking to make the US postal system any safer, but rather to “encourage the use of encryption and to support efforts to support the public and private sectors to help protect the nation’s most important communications infrastructure.”
The US Department for Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
For some people, however, the government’s post-election push to embrace encryption is a new trend.
In February, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden made headlines with a video message that was posted online, in which he called on Americans to “open your hearts to encryption.”
“We can stop this madness that’s destroying our democracy and our freedom,” Snowden said in the video.
“We are the champions of our freedom.”
On Wednesday, a federal judge in Texas issued an injunction to force the NSA to stop using the NSA’s PRISM program, which collects metadata about millions of Americans’ internet activity.
The case is being brought by a former employee who claims that he was tricked into signing a secret agreement to help the NSA spy on him, and that he is being forced to decrypt the content of his emails.
The former employee is seeking to compel the NSA and other agencies to turn over records related to his case, including any e-spilling from the NSA or others.
The Electronic Frontier Foundry is representing Snowden, and is expected to argue for the order in the court.