18 September 2015

Encryption, anonymity as human rights

The Blog

In May of 2015, a UN report asserted that secure encryption and anonymity on the Internet are human rights.

From the UN report:
Encryption and anonymity, today’s leading vehicles for online security, provide individuals with a means to protect their privacy, empowering them to browse, read, develop and share opinions and information without interference and enabling journalists, civil society organizations, members of ethnic or religious groups, those persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, activists, scholars, artists and others to exercise the rights to freedom of opinion and expression. 
The US regime has vowed and sought to implement a so-called "golden key" that will allow it to break through all encryption, contrary to the UN's above recognition of encryption as a human right. As of Edward Snowden's revelations in 2013, they were making significant gains against such protection, but they had not yet succeeded.

Dan Froomkin at The Intercept had written on the month of the report's release:
Encryption is not the refuge of scoundrels, as Obama administration law-enforcement officials loudly proclaim – it is an essential tool needed to protect the right of freedom of opinion and expression in the digital age, a new United Nations report concludes.
More recently, at the Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) in September, Jason Farrell concluded, "Governments do not have a right to see every communication on the web", and dismissed the so-called national security arguments of the White House. He wrote that "Even if the battle against terrorism, drug cartels, hackers, spies or other criminals becomes more difficult, “going dark” remains the right of all human beings."

A "golden key" to thwart encryption will not just allow the US regime to aggressively monitor and follow its own citizens without any legal justification, but will allow repressive regimes all over the world to do the same once they get access to US government information. Therefore, what the US is doing has become an example of what Martin Luther King Jr called 'an injustice anywhere being a threat to justice everywhere', potentially allowing the entrenchment of dictatorships all over the world.

However, the US's development of the ultimate tools of dictatorship and the repression of opposition should not be surprising. In all international conflicts, the US has proven repeatedly that it is on the side of armed coups and repressive dictatorships, using their territory to extra-judicially torture and murder its opponents over decades.

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