Edward Snowden’s exposure of the illegal mass surveillance of basically everybody conducted by the NSA and GCHQ, has and is still causing international political fallout. Hijacking diplomatic flights and using anti-terror legislation to intimidate journalists, aren’t doing much to help matters.

Glyn Moody suggests that, given the widespread abuse of communication technology by the security services, campaigning to get everyone online may not be such a good idea.

Here’s my response:

People shouldn’t necessarily throw away an entire technology just because a few (thousand) bad apples abuse it. As technologists, what this means is that we need to build in safeguards (encryption, obfuscation, anonymous routing etc etc) which make such abuses impossible in the future.

This is already starting to happen (almost every other post on Hacker news these days is some new product that solves one part of the puzzle).

Everyone can do something:

Joe User can do some simple things – install the EFF’s HTTPS Everywhere plugin, and use email encryption (if we can make encryption ubiquitous then we make the PRISM/Tempora kind of abuse much much harder).

Network admins can do things like move their DNS over to OpenNIC (a drop in replacement domain name system run by volunteers outside of government control, often without any logging of queries) and use DNSCrypt to encrypt lookups.

Coders can look at throwing their weight behind an open source project – perhaps add encryption support to their favourite mail client (or make the UX easier), or take a look around at some of the decentralisation projects going on (particularly worth looking at the #indiewebcamp community).

Basically, we need more engagement, not less. Decisions are made by those who show up, and as Tesco put it, “Every little helps” :)

What are your thoughts?

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