I'm trying to be more careful about my personal data, that I plan to back up using some secure online storage service. I'm looking at several encrypted services that are a much better alternative than Google Drive.

However, I have the feeling that if I take this route, I could be sharing storage service with some "bad guys", and maybe this attracts unwanted attention from Governments to my very normal but private content (ie. "Umh, let's hack this service and get all the data out of it, we will filter the bad guys later").

Do you think it's plausible to be wrongly targeted precisely because you follow some steps to harden your data? Is it risky to be a server neighbour of the mafias of the world?

Can you get in trouble precisely because you try to be more opaque to the Google and Governments of the world?

  • 2
    re:"much better alternative than Google Drive"; encrypt it before you upload and all providers are the same.
    – dandavis
    May 19, 2018 at 20:49

1 Answer 1


There is indeed evidence that suggests that users of strong cryptography (and of services that use strong cryptography) get selected e.g. by the NSA.

I would still recommend encryption and encrypted services:

  • The NSA will put you in the “crypto users” selector, so what? Most likely this will be it. If you actually intersect with another group, say “left wing activist” or “young man recently converted to islam” some analyst may actually have your name on screen before scrolling on.
  • If they actually hack your backup provider, break the crypto and get your actual data, see previous point.
  • I don’t know about you, but the NSA is very low on my of list of threats. If they are really bored they can write an internal memo about me. Drone strikes to my country are unlikely... But crypto and related products may actually save me from real threats - random internet criminals, hotel wifi "hackers", private detectives hired by my company’s competitors, nosey short-term boyfriends, the person who “finds” my laptop, etc.
  • If the NSA has hacked protonmail or backdoored tails, they will think twice about giving out this information willy-nilly to law enforcement so they can persecute you for using a 30-day-trial on day 31 (yes, do google "parallel construction", but don't be too paranoid).
  • 1
    Very good explanation thanks. I'd hate to be wrongly targeted, but I guess at some early point (I hope) they would assess I'm not a real threat and would go to the next suspect. It would be a very rare ocurrence that is outweighted by the benefits of encrypting your data.
    – Peanuts
    May 19, 2018 at 19:17
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    +1 for the overall assessment, but minor nitpick (perhaps not even seriously) - the trouble with the NSA getting your data, even if you are doing nothing illegal and they have no reason to bug you, is because the NSA is perhaps not the best at keeping secrets either (cough wannacry cough). One of these days the biggest password dump ever will show up on haveibeenpwned and it will turn out to track back to a hack from the NSA's database... But yes, let's not be too paranoid. May 19, 2018 at 23:43

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