By Larry Magid

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Some of the most popular websites are stepping up their encryption efforts to stop unauthorized snooping.

The move comes after former federal government contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents showing the extent of surveillance programs put in place by the U.S. government.

The term, Perfect Forward Secrecy has now come up. Twitter instituted it on Friday and Facebook and Mozilla both made announcements on it too. Google as well will be using a similar type of technology. Basically what it does, is it encrypts the data, just as it had in the past, but it does so in a way that if later someone were to get access to the keys that can decrypt the data, it would still be encrypted.

It protects you against some future snooping activity, whether it is the government (the U.S.’s or someone else’s), hackers or anyone else. This is all assuming that you are not posting in public (in that case there is no secrecy).

It’s remarkable that the industry would come together so in such a unified way over anything, but they seem to have a common concern against alleged National Security Agency (NSA) snooping and feel that there’s a lack of transparency with the government agency.

Tech industry firms and companies like Google and Facebook are claiming there are demands on them to reveal information. There are also reports, which the government is denying, that there have been tappings of fiber-optic cables coming into the U.S.

Even though some of these spy allegations involve non-U.S. citizens, it’s still a concern for these Silicon Valley companies, because they have to operate in an international climate and they’re looking for trust on a global basis.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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