Spread the Word: Encryption Matters
Mark Surman

I find the idea behind the video series on encryption absolutely vital, as one of the undeniable realities of the current debate on encryption and privacy, is that the large majority of people still don’t care enough about encryption, privacy or mass surveillance.

The fact that a tech giant like Apple, with its huge fan and customer base, can put its weight behind encryption and privacy, is certainly positive. It’s also positive that Facebook and Twitter have expressed their support and that other companies have come forth. Nevertheless, we should also acknowledge that Apple, Facebook and Twitter have historically been more part of the problem of Surveillance than they are solution.

For now, it may be of convenience to all of us that Apple and other large companies are defending billions of dollars of US economy, and that they can’t afford to lose the trust of their customers worldwide. But as Edward Snowden pointed out today, it is all too weird — and not at all a good precedent — that a company is defending the rights of the people, and not the other way around.

We would also be way too naive to exclude the possibility that — as Bruce Schneier and Julian Sanchez reminded us — the NSA or China could have the capabilities to do what the FBI is asking Apple to do for them, or that the matter could ultimately be dealt in secret between Apple and the FBI.

Bruce Schneier and others have explained the particular vulnerabilities of the iPhone in question, and also made clear that Apple could make newer iPhones just as vulnerable through a simple firmware update, and even actually be able to comply with the court order without compromising all iPhones, as has been suggested.

Which is also why the court order, as Julian Sanchez pointed out, is clearly more about setting a legal precedent, that would submit not only Apple to equivalent future demands from the FBI or other law enforcement agencies, to comply under similar circumstances and through the same legal recourse.

Once such a disastrous precedent is established, other Tech companies would have to submit to providing access to law enforcement through back-doors, and even companies that have never endorsed the current business model of free internet services in exchange for private personal data, such as Open Whisper Systems, could be forced to back-door their products.

I wrote a piece here in Medium less than a month ago, to try and get people to sign the “Security for All” petition, which was the first petition to be joined by civil society, digital rights organizations and the Tech industry.

Trying to promote it under the climate rapidly heating up under the so called second Crypto War, was the only reason I decided to join Medium in the first place. My achievement within the Medium Sphere so far amounts to 4 recommendations. Not a complete failure, but considering the amount of recommendations and reads many other important - and sometimes trivial - topics receive, it is certainly not a result to celebrate.

The real win was that my piece was translated to Bahasa, and published by Indonesian web magazine Jakartabeat, where the piece has been read more than 400 times, and also been debated on FB and shared on Indonesian media. I’m really optimistic the Privacy and Encryption debate will continue to spread in Indonesia, but I’m rather disappointed in the response received from readers in Medium, especially since the topic actually does have a history on this platform.

The fact that Privacy continues to be the 12th article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that Mr. Zuckerberg believes Privacy is obsolete and dead, says a lot about where the Tech companies’ interests really lie, and how much we should worry instead of simply assuming that Apple is here to save us from Mass Surveillance. Corporate Mass Surveillance is not any better, and is arguably responsible as the NSA has decided to simply piggyback on the streams of private data and personal info that flows through social media platforms like FB, chats and e-mail clients like Yahoo, etc.

Mozilla has a completely different track record than Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter; in fact Firefox and the partnering with Tor has provided an effective alternative to protect Privacy and Anonymity, as well as supported a great deal of add-ons for the Firefox browser, such as https everywhere, privacy badger, NoScript, prim3, google sharing, Better Privacy, etc., which have made it the leading browser for Privacy.

I truly hope the upcoming video series will have all the impact my piece and many others’ attempts to get the public interested in the consequences of living in the Post-Snowden predicament, so far haven’t, but we must do a lot more to get people to support and more importantly start using strong end-to-end encryption. I’m happy you have decided to take it on, let’s keep it up!

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