The Russian intelligence service has put in an order for typewriters and ribbons in hopes of avoiding Edward Snowden-type digital leaks. Writer Marc Herman notes that for the rest of us, this approach won't make much difference.
This week the Russian news service Izvestia reported that the country’s intelligence service plans to replace the computers it uses for some of its information systems with typewriters. Theoretically, the hope is that this will help prevent massive leaks of sensitive data. However, assuming paper-based communiqués are ever truly protected, would abandoning digital communications altogether be a good idea for the average citizen who’s concerned about their privacy? Writer Marc Herman says it could be, but only “if you also stopped using the regular mail.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Herman cites the National Criminal Justice Reference Service: Last year “the feds received two million consumer fraud and identity theft complaints…most of which had to do with private information getting stolen out of someone’s mailbox.” While the data doesn’t distinguish between digital and non-digital mischief, the fact that over half the complaints involved benefit fraud — using someone else’s ID to steal pension and government checks — implies paper was involved in some way, says Herman. Credit card fraud was the second biggest complaint, prompting him to note that “you probably hand your credit card to waiters only for them to disappear with it for several minutes all the time.”