Is the decision to weaken encryption too technical for those in power to make?

Is the decision to weaken encryption too technical for those in power?

Who knows.. maybe they get it. Maybe they don't.

If they do get it, a reasonable mind will realise if encryption gets weakened for all - then there is a great probability that political or financial motivations are higher priorities ahead of common sense and logic.

Edward Snowden said "arguing you don't care for the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is similar to saying you don't care as you have nothing to say." He said "people who use the 'I have nothing to hide' line don't understand the foundation of human rights - that nobody should have to justify why they deserve the right and the burden to justify falls on those seeking to infringe upon the right."

 

  • If one person chooses to disregard their right to privacy - should this mean everyone must follow suit?

  • Should your rights be jeapordised because they're not useful to someone else, or vice versa?

When it comes to individual rights, a majority voting away the rights of a minority causes disenfranchisement and for the sake of enforcing mass surveillance to prevent criminal activity; this creates a catch 22 scenario as setting up such an infrastructure gives up the very freedoms we cherish and privileges we wish to preserve.

The counter argument is we'll be more protected and feel less threatened with the assistance of mass surveillance. This works if you're the public relations expert behind the campaign but unfortunately the evidential foundation to this theory is pretty delicate.

Former head of NSA’s Global Intelligence Operations – Bill Binney – said mass surveillance is more of an obstruction to the governments capabilities in halting criminals and terrorists and is why the US government were unable to prevent 9/11, the Boston bombing, the Texas shootings and other terror attacks as the amount of data they had to process was too mind-boggling. More paralyzing than helpful.

Binney told Washington’s blog:

“A good deal of failure is, in my opinion, due to balk data. So, I am calling these attacks as a result of data bulk failure.”

Too much data. Too many people. Upwards of 20,000 data analysts. Especially when they're making word match pulls (like in google), resulting in dumps of data selected from close to 4 billion people.

The major issue with mass surveillance is those in power having too much power; of which can easily be abused by people in positions of influence. This degree of power is as paralyzing to one's moral compass as the amount of data is those analysts must wade through in order to halt crime and in turn, save peoples lives.

Can the powers that be, people like you and me, capable of making errors of judgement even with the best intentions – government officers, agency’s, companies, contractors – can they be trusted with your personal information amongst the billions of others they yield from mass surveillance? Can you always trust them whole-heartedly to have your well being at the forefront of their hearts and minds? Will they act honourably when endowed with such a magnitude of influence? Could your information be lost or mismanaged?

The recent data harvesting debacle with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica (where it is estimated that tens of millions of facebook Profiles were targeted to influence the outcome of the US general election) has generated a global collective state of bewilderment as to how our personal data is being used.

Children of today and those growing up in tomorrows world may feel like Jim Carrey did in The Truman Show - the star of their own biopic.

All well and good if one's brittle ego is in need of such a boost but what's the price to pay here?

Will future generations ever really know what personal privacy is?

Huw Tremlett

Data Management Consultant

Huw Tremlett