Freshly Minted

Freshly Minted: Mysterious Encryption Startup Wickr Nabs $30B and Jim Breyer Endorsement

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Welcome to Freshly Minted, where we examine an overlooked deal or funding announcement in tech from the past week, and tell you what you need to know, and why it matters.

This week’s deal: Secure messaging app Wickr closed a $30 million Series B to build a social network with NSA-level encryption.

If the naysayers are to believed, privacy is dead, and no one cares whether or not Facebook, Twitter and Google are collecting our personal data and selling it to marketers. Wickr, on the other hand, is an app for people who haven’t given up the fight to keep their correspondence private. And it’s growing rapidly. Read More

privacy wars

Harvard and MIT Students Launch ‘NSA-Proof’ Email Service

ProtonMail was created in Switzerland, where privacy laws are totally chill. (Facebook)

Troubled by Edward Snowden’s revelations about the U.S. government’s snooping habits, a group of Harvard and MIT students created an email service they insist is completely NSA-proof.

The new email platform is called ProtonMailBostInno reports. The service’s five brainy founders met while working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland. They bonded over a shared desire to build an email service even more secure than Lavabit, Mr. Snowden’s now-defunct email service of choice.

Following a few weeks in private beta, ProtonMail is launching its open beta phase starting today. Read More

privacy wars

Snowden Biographer Claims His Text Would ‘Self-Delete’ When He Wrote About NSA

Snowden proof. (Photo: File)

The journalist Luke Harding’s book, The Snowden Files, came out earlier this month. But judging by Mr. Harding’s assertion that his words were somehow deleting themselves while he wrote about the NSA, it’s a wonder it came out at all.

While he was working on the book about Edward Snowden’s exploits, Mr. Harding writes in the Guardian, the sentences he wrote about the NSA would periodically garble or delete themselves. Read More

Protests

Uh Oh, NSA: People Are Protesting Online and IRL Today

Two weeks ago, we called your attention to the forthcoming “Day We Fight Back,” an Internet movement designed to fight back against the NSA’s data collection program. Guess what? The day is finally here. Watch out, government.

Today, as planned, dozens of participating websites like Upworthy and Piwik are posting banners on their home pages, encouraging viewers to call up and email their local legislators and complain about the NSA. Read More

privacy wars

Gov’t Spied on 12,000+ User Accounts in Six Months, Google Says

Google has released Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) information requests for the first time thanks to a lawsuit filed last year, says Google’s blog.

“Under FISA, the government may apply for orders from a special FISA Court to require U.S. companies to hand over users’ personal information and the content of their communications,” the blog reads. “Although FISA was passed by elected representatives and is available for anyone to read, the way the law is used is typically kept secret.”

Per the data, the government made content requests to peek at 12,000 to 12,999 users or accounts during the peak period of July to December 2012. Those requests appeared to build in number since January 2009, with another one or two thousand being tacked on every six months. Read More