The panel will explore the question of whether encryption builds business or drives customers away, and ways to make encryption easier to drive adoption.
Golden Frog has identified four main issues with encryption that Sunday will be speaking on:
Issue 1: Privacy is a right and encryption is the right to defend yourself
Apple’s Tim Cook famously said “privacy is a right,” and we agree. Golden Frog believes everyone has the right to privacy, which is why we are incorporated in Switzerland where privacy is a fundamental constitutional right. Taking this concept further, we believe if privacy is a right then Encryption is the Second Amendment for the Internet – it’s your ability to protect and defend yourself while online.
Issue 2: Encryption should be easy to use
Encryption should be easy to use and accessible to the masses – not just the technical elite. It should be turned on by default rather than as a special feature, and should be user-friendly to activate. Think about the days of dial-up, when users had to complete multiple manual steps to connect to the Internet. Technology has evolved past this, to make the Internet more accessible for everyone. This should also be the case for encryption. The technology certainly exists, and we’ve built it into VyprVPN. Our users simply need to login and press the connect button – it’s that easy!
Issue 3: Encryption must be ubiquitous and undetectable
Encryption should operate like a utility, such as water pipe or electricity. Ubiquity will come through making encryption available to everyone as part of a standard service – not an additional “add on.” If availability is widespread, there will be mass adoption of encryption. When we move towards mass adoption, it will be more difficult for governments to detect or identify whom is using encryption.
Mass adoption of encryption is not enough. We also need the tech community to work to make encryption undetectable. As Edward Snowden explained at SXSW 2015, VPN providers need to develop new technologies to obscure their services so VPN traffic can’t be identified as being encrypted. He also asserted that we need more randomizing efforts for other services so we, as a tech community, can defeat monitoring at the network level. Snowden’s suggestion was very encouraging because Golden Frog has already built our proprietary VPN technology called Chameleon that scrambles OpenVPN packet metadata to ensure it’s not recognized as a VPN connection. Chameleon allows people around the world, particularly in China, to defeat the deep packet inspection tactics of the Great Firewall and other network monitoring efforts.
Issue 4: No Backdoors
Recently, the United States and other governments have been pushing for backdoors into encrypted communications. This initiative is not only misguided, but also represents a serious threat to consumer privacy and business security, as well as a barrier to technological innovation. History is on our side on this one – the defeat of backdoors during the Crypto Wars of the 1990’s is what helped create the modern Internet. Today, we all use encryption in our daily lives; it’s used to facilitate online retail transactions, online banking, social media and many other online communications. Businesses also rely on encryption to provide secure communications that protect trade secrets, secure sensitive financial information and provide trusted services to their customers.
We have several counter-arguments to the backdoor issue, which we’ll be sharing in a second blog post tomorrow – stay tuned!