The Elimination of Privacy

Posted on January 30, 2015


Since 9/11 Privacy has been under assault in the name of national security in the fight against terrorism.

The bye product of this ‘protection of citizens’ is to strip away the very privacies and means by which individuals and collectives can question the actions of the governing elite. Without a right to privacy, how is it possible to have a free and open discussion? What good is the right to free speech if it is not protected? Whilst we may accept that there are times our Governments do nothing, or even threaten our liberties, what is critical is the right to voice our concerns.

What is more traditionally known as liberty and freedom is now often muddied up privacy. When we lose privacy, we lose agency we lose liberty itself because we no longer feel free to express ourselves safely.

Surveillance for example is NOT passive, it is control. Governments foster knowledge of their populations and that is the basis behind many surveillance and monitoring programs. The recent publicized objection to encryption technology is testament to this in the Guardian headline ‘Cameron wants to ban encryption – he can say goodbye to digital Britain’ . Cameron simply does not get technology, or perhaps he is not challenging his advisors with common sense questions before committing words to newsreel and proposed government actions. Actions that he will either have to do a U turn on or fudge and sweep under a carpet at a later date pretending they had the desired result (aka costly failures).

Banning encryption is the top of the Cameron wish list of White Elephants. For any encryption ban to work it would need to be unilateral and UK users ring fenced from accessing external services. What on earth makes him think he can achieve what more authoritarian countries around the world have failed to achieve. Syria, Russia and Iran to name a few, and the great firewall of China by the self-named.

To be frank it is an embarrassment to have a leader with access to some of the best and most competent down to earth technical specialists to be spouting such gibberish. He is either deaf to his advisors or listening to individuals lacking in real world practicalities.

Next on his list of light bulb moments was the Extremist diatribe and intent to recruit ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) to police their networks and repor

Metadata collection is a fig leaf of a protection that monitoring agencies, and some vendors, herald to be a legitimate method of monitoring or essential to their software maintenance. The pretext being that the data is generated as you are using the technology ie: your internet address accessing a website, or a timestamp of a mobile phone call.

The ideal would be to remove the service provider from the equation – NO logs on the servers, no access to communications or visibility of comms through use of encryption and no access to encryption keys. Far from this, Governments are mandating retention of such data.

Never before has it been so convenient for Governments to monitor and conduct surveillance, or corporations for that matter. The prevalence of electronic mediums for communications are now the preferred proxy for face to face meetings, this lowers all communications to a common denominator – electronic communications. Communications that transit all to readily accessible conduits that can be tapped into, or devices such as Laptops or mobile phones that can themselves be compromised through electronic bugging or tracing toolsets.

Quote President Obama’s UN Statement, September 2014: “Where a genuine civil society is allowed to flourish – where people can express their views, and organise peacefully for a better life – then you dramatically expand the alternatives to terror … “

He went on to say “If young people live in places where the only option is between the dictates of a state, or the lure of an extremist underground, then no counterterrorism strategy can succeed.” Surveillance and oppressive practices drive people to extreme measures and a very fertile underground movement towards greater use of anonymization tools such as VPN (Virtual Private Networks) and encryption.

As individuals have to resort to enforcing their own privacy controls they will flush out the privacy defilers.