We need to do something, and this is something, so therefore we need to do this

Right now I'm watching my 9 year old son type out an email on a laptop. He and his younger brother have emails set up at one of our domains, and they've got a hand-me-down laptop running Debian, and Thunderbird is set up to check their mails. They email their friends, and sometimes their grandparents, and sometimes -- like now -- me. But I've set things up a little different with them: I've set up Enigmail, and set up GnuPG keys for them, and taught them how to use it to encrypt and decrypt email to me. The passes on their keys are silly, same as on the laptop, but it illustrates the point and it is fun for them to have s3kr3t wr1t1ng.

This is all part of a big, sprawling ball of worry in my head that stretches from now 'til their adult lives: how do I teach them the contours of the world they live in? And in particular, how do I begin to explain to them the surveillance they'll be under, what they can do about it and why they should care?

Being a Free Software hippie, I'm in pretty much complete agreement with Snowden, Greenwald et al: pervasive surveillance is corrosive and morally wrong, and fighting back is important. But as much as I hate to admit it, I think Benjamin Wittes has a point when he says that the average American (let's lump us in with them for the moment) has more to fear from Chinese or Russian intelligence agencies than the NSA. (I don't think he's entirely correct on that, and he's leaving out organized crime entirely, but there is a point...buried under a crapton of stuff I vigourously (read: shrilly) disagree with.) And while we're dealing with informed POVs, let's not forget Moxie Marlinspike's impatience/disappointment with GPG.

In the meantime: I make the most of the tools I have. I make it a fun game, talk about secret writing and the fun kind of spies. And I try to figure out what in heaven's name we're going to do next.