Should we stop encrypting our personal emails and messages so our governments can read them? Do we trust them enough for that?
I just read another disturbing article about security chiefs decrying encryption technologies being used in personal communications.
From the BBC News Site - Europol chief warns on computer encryption
Europol's Rob Wainwright said:
"We are disappointed by the position taken by these tech firms and it only adds to our problems in getting to the communications of the most dangerous people that are abusing the internet.
"Tech firms are doing it, I suppose, because of a commercial imperative driven by what they perceive to be consumer demand for greater privacy of their communications."
Mr Wainwright acknowledged this was a result of the revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who exposed how security services were conducting widespread surveillance of emails and messages.
He said security agencies now had to work to rebuild trust between technology firms and the authorities.
Trust, once lost ...
And what about rebuilding the trust between the security agencies and the people? The old adage about - "What would an honest man have to hide?" - doesn't wash. There is plenty of personal stuff that I write and send to other people that is personal and I don't want to share with the wider world. It's not illegal, it's not extremist, it's just personal. It might be about health or family matters. And the problem with the goverment wanting to read it, is that they have proved time and again that they can not be trusted with such information. They will lose it, they will leak it, they will publish it and they will send it round on humorous office newsletters, especially at Christmas.
And that is the core of why I don't want the goverment reading my personal mail - I don't trust them with it. Trust must be earned, and once it is lost, it can not easily be regained.
Sadly, the Government's response to this, sod earning your trust, we'll just take what we want and if you try to stop us that automatically makes you a "bad" person, so anything that happens to you, or is done to you, is "justified".
Ironically part of the problem is that a lot of the people working in these security agencies do believe that things like privacy and freedom of speech must be defended at all costs and by any means necessary, paradoxically up to and including, suspending the very principles they are trying to defend :-/.
George Orwell's "double-think" is alive and well and living in 21st century security agencies.
Our best defence - Democracy
I won't trot out the old adage about we pay your wages, instead I would invite them to consider who controls their jobs. At the end of the day we could shut them down and make their jobs illegal if we wanted to. It would take a lot of us, millions in fact, and it would take time, but we could do it. It's call democracy.
“Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.”
— Abraham Lincoln
“We, the people' ...”
Somebody once said that one of the most powerful phrases in a democracy is We, the people". And it is true. You can annoy some of the people all of the time, and all the of the people some of the time, but if you annoy all of the people, all of the time - we'll shut you down.