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Tom Wheeler, the newly crowned chairman of the Federal Communications Commission in the US, has ambitious plans. He's already on a crusade to get carriers to allow mobile phone unlocking, and now he plans to rewrite the technology that supports America's ageing landline phone network.

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Skype has long claimed to be "end-to-end encrypted", an architectural category that suggests conversations over the service would be difficult or impossible to eavesdrop upon, even given control of users' internet connections. But Skype's 2005 independent security review admits a caveat to this protection: "defeat of the security mechanisms at the Skype Central Server" could facilitate a "man-in-the-middle attack" (see section 3.4.1).

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In the past several weeks, EFF has received many requests for advice about privacy tools that provide technological shields against mass surveillance. We've been interested for many years in software tools that help people protect their own privacy; we've defended your right to develop and use cryptographic software, we've supported the development of the Tor software and written privacy software of our own. This article looks at some of the available tools to blunt the effects of mass surveillance.