Is strong encryption a fundamental civil liberty

IT Culture, Rant
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For a moment let’s ignore political affiliations. Let’s ignore whatever you may feel towards Snowden’s brain dump that exposed just how much the US government violates your privacy. Let’s ignore that our government is thoroughly incapable of preventing terrorist attacks: From commander in chief holding his dick and reading kids stories (while passenger aircraft are slamming into WTC and Pentagon) to the tens of thousands of TSA agents that continue to let stuff slip. Let’s even ignore the nationality, religion, motive, mental health – We live in a nation where we are getting murdered without regard for the color of our skin or the content of our character. It’s sad.

There are widespread calls from our politicians, lobbyists and virtually every other scared mouthpiece on TV to further violate your privacy by putting loopholes and backdoors into encryption products and services you use every single day.

The argument is as follows:

(paraphrasing) “These terrorists are using strong encryption to go dark and we have no ways or means to monitor or track them. We are asking companies like Apple, Microsoft, etc to create backdoors in their systems so that government can break encryption and help protect the country by spying on the terrorism suspects”

Sounds seemingly harmless, right?

Except when those backdoors go in, it’s just a matter of time till they are hacked, exposed and used to violate your right to privacy.

Except that there is literally no oversight over who has access to these systems, for what purpose and under what terms.

Except that government already has access to tons of this information already and is incapable (or unwilling to act on it).

Think about what is sitting in your iPhone right now – your bank accounts, your pictures, your home surveillance system (alarm, camera, thermostat), your travel patterns and your location data everything down to your blood pressure and whether you had a nightmare last night.

Giving government the right to break that encryption on demand, without oversight, without due process and without accountability – when they have proven that they cannot prevent disasters even when they have full intelligence, plenty of warning and time – should give you pause to hopefully ask yourself for what purpose they actually want all this data for if it’s not for catching criminals and preventing mass murders.

Digital Jihad

Now for a moment allow me to get more specific on the subject of sophistication of planning a terrorist attack in plain sight. ISIS, ISIL, IS or whatever you call them are not hiding: They are publishing stuff using their Twitter accounts, just like you and me. They even have a magazine.

Why isn’t our government shutting those accounts down? Why aren’t they taking their Youtube channels and videos down? Why are their forums still online? Why does the US government – through extreme threats, subpoenas and law enforcement force Internet Service Providers to keep these sites up even after they violate terms of service and cause the said company a public black eye as a terrorism supporter – because the government needs to be able to track them.

So aspiring terrorists, in the third world are granted more civil liberties and free public hate speech but US citizens are being asked to forgo their right to privacy in order to do what?

We live in a free country. We pay a huge price for that.

Let’s not allow handful of would be terrorists half the world away to take away our rights, our liberties and our privacy. If the US government feels so strongly about censorship, privacy violations, curbing free speech and so on may I recommend the following: Go after Youtube. Go after Twitter. Go after Facebook (WhatsApp). Go after Snapchat. All of these are for profit corporations based in United States – shut off the terrorists access to social media, to their funding – which they are doing in public.

As we have seen after 9/11, government is very quick to take civil liberties away (Patriot act) and very slow to give it away. It’s quick to detain, harass and intimidate citizens (TSA) but remains completely unaccountable and begging for even more.

And just one final observation:

If terrorists truly hate America, our freedoms, our way of life – then they are doing a marvelous job of helping our government take them away from us.

Terrorist state, half the world away, which there is lots of evidence was set up and funded by us (along with pictures of their leadership with Senator McCain) launches a small scale terrorist attack and all of a sudden US citizens should give up their privacy?

Think about it. Then go download PGP.