Privacy 2.0: We Need Weapons, Not Words

When we set out to explore the internet we felt like singing “We are young, we run free” from the Supergrass song Alright (1995). Actually back in the 90s we were young, we were free. Unfortunately it turns out we were green as well. Optimistically we explored all the possibilities of the internet and we gained a lot from it: knowledge, friends, fun.

Now being, well, not yet old, but being parents, we look at the internet somehow differently. Now we carry the responsibility for our kids and we have to keep them safe online. A tough task since George Orwell‘s 1984 is a long-time reality online and surveillance is all around us.

We don’t like it, but still we log on to Facebook and Google. But now is the time to change the internet. If not for us, then for our children. We have to allow them the same carefree experience. We have to let them run wild, also on the internet, but at the same time we have to protect them. We have to make sure that their pictures, the places they go to, all the information the internet takes, doesn’t get in the wrong hands.

Now is the time to change our habits.

  • As long as we happily save our data in cloud service like Gmail and Dropbox, unauthorized access is just some clicks away.

  • As long as the technical possibility to monitor online data exists, it will be used. Not only by the NSA, but by several other players – big companies, foreign Secret Services, attackers.

Since Edward Snowden came into the picture, the media wrote a lot about mass surveillance and how Politicians should protect us. More than a year later nothing has happened. Instead the US Senate just voted against the USA Freedom Act, which would have stopped the NSA’s continuous collection of practically all US phone data. Let’s be honest with ourselves: Politicians will not change the system. Neither will Secret Services or companies who generate income with our data. The only chance we have is technology. We need to use technology as a weapon, a weapon to fight for our human right to privacy.

Encrypt all the things. It’s our only chance.

If we want to stop mass surveillance online, the protection of our data must become much easier. The best encryption solution is of no use if most people dread the effort. We have to develop modern, open source software that secures our data hassle-free. This is the minimal requirement so that people might consider to stop using Gmail or WhatsApp - even though the latter now comes with encrypted messages. We have to reach out to the users. Everybody has to know how easy it can be to secure their data – even if they have “nothing to hide”. For the future I hope that everybody understands the value of our data. It is priceless.

Once the data is out there, we can’t take it back. Whether we like it or not.

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