Wednesday, March 4, 2015

How to Mess With Surveillance

Surveillance is both a technological and a legal problem. Technological solutions are often things we can do ourselves. We can use various privacy and anonymity technologies to protect our data and identities. These are effective but can be thwarted by secret government orders. We need to fight the political battle as well.

Political solutions require group effort but are generally limited to specific countries. Technological solutions have the potential to be global. If Microsoft designs its Windows operating system with ubiquitous file encryption, or if the Internet Engineering Task Force decides that all Internet traffic will be encrypted by default, then those changes will affect everyone in the world who uses those products and protocols.

The point is that politics can undermine technology, and also that technology can undermine politics. Neither trumps the other. If we are going to fix things, we need to fight on both the technological and political fronts. And it’s not just up to governments and corporations. We the people have a lot of work to do here.


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