Edward Snowden and the Global Encryption Coalition say “Meddling with strong encryption puts public and economy at risk” – Press Release

Edward Snowden and the Global Encryption Coalition say “Meddling with strong encryption puts public and economy at risk”

  • The Global Encryption Coalition is calling for the public to ‘Make the Switch’ on Global Encryption Day to strong encrypted services and defend their right to privacy and security
  • Currently, encryption is under threat by governments around the world who want to create backdoors for law enforcement
  • This could provide bad actors access to sensitive information risking national security and public safety
  • Hundreds of technology companies and civil society have already made the pledge to use strong encryption

21 October 2021, Reston, Virginia – A group of civil society organisations and technology companies around the world has come together to promote the use of strong encryption and prevent dangerous attempts by governments and law enforcement agencies to undermine it on the first ever Global Encryption Day.

Encryption safeguards the personal security of billions of people and the national security of countries around the world. Marginalised communities, domestic abuse survivors, and politicians who work with highly sensitive information all need encryption to keep their communications private and secure. Even law enforcement uses encrypted communications systems to ensure that organised criminals and terror organisations cannot gain access to their investigations. Thanks to strong encryption, people can access online banking and healthcare services without fear of their personal data being stolen.

The use of strong encryption has been called into question by many governments worldwide who are concerned about criminals exploiting encryption technology to hide illegal activity online. However, these proposals to weaken or undermine strong encryption could actually leave users more vulnerable to cyber-attacks and criminal activity.

Edward Snowden, Board Member of Freedom of the Press Foundation and the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations says “If you weaken encryption, people will die. This year alone, after the fall of the government of Afghanistan, we saw how crucial encryption is in keeping ordinary people safe. The Covid pandemic brought home how essential encrypted messaging apps on our smartphones are for communicating with loved ones if we’re ill and need help. Doctors used encrypted messaging apps to communicate with their patients and share personal information securely. Encryption makes us all safer. From families protecting photographs of their kids, to personal healthcare information, encryption keeps our private information private.”

“It would have been impossible for me to whistleblow without encryption. My first messages to journalists were made with encryption and without secure end-to-end encryption it is impossible to see how brave investigative journalism could happen at all.”

“Despite this, governments around the world are seeking to weaken encryption by calling on platforms to create “backdoors” for law enforcement. I have seen first-hand how governments can abuse the power they have to access the personal data of innocent people in the name of national security. Weakening encryption would be a colossal mistake that could put thousands of lives at risk.”

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia says, “Protecting strong encryption is essential for protecting the human rights of millions of people around the world. Everyone has the right to privacy and security – that can only be maintained with secure end-to-end encryption. Weakening encryption puts us all at risk. When we started Wikipedia, it was prohibitively expensive to use secure encryption for every page on the site, but it was always a priority of ours and we introduced it as soon as we could. There is no excuse for not using encryption now – governments and technology platforms have a duty to protect the public.”

On the first ever Global Encryption Day, there will be a series of events around the world to showcase how different walks of life have been kept safe using encryption. From LGBT Tech hosting an Instagram Live on why encryption is essential to the LGBTQ+ community, to leading civil society groups in Brazil hosting an all-women panel discussing the importance of encryption to keep social activism alive, and world renowned investigative journalists publicly pledging to Make the Switch to strong encryption in an open letter.

The Global Encryption Coalition is asking the public to Make the Switch to encrypted services on Global Encryption Day. Make your pledge to switch.

Additional quotes from Global Encryption Coalition members and supporters:

Strong Encryption allows marginalized communities around the world to protect themselves from the harms of technology. It allows us to escape the pervasive suspicious gaze that criminalizes our very identities. For too long the Black community in the United State were the ones technology “happened to” instead of “worked for”. Marginalized communities’ stories are the “canaries in the coal mine”, cautionary tales of what awaits all people in a world without encryption. Out of control state/corporate surveillance, bias AI/Algorithms, facial recognition gone wrong, etc. Encryption returns humanity, empowerment and agency to all communities especially those who need it most. Strong encryption allows for privacy and privacy is not secrecy. Privacy is the ability to have doors and curtains, which allow us to choose with whom and when, to share our most personal & beautiful thoughts and moments.”
Matt Mitchell, Tech fellow at Ford Foundation and Founder of CryptoHarlem
Now more than ever, journalists are facing digital threats to their work and safety. Encryption plays a critical role in protecting journalists and their sources, enabling them to share information even in the most dangerous environments. Those who uphold press freedom must commit to the right to encryption.”
Lisa Dittmer, Advocacy officer for Internet Freedom, Reporters Without Borders
Encryption is increasingly under attack across the world, putting the privacy and security of billions of users at risk. Recent proposals, such as those around traceability and web traffic interception, are a worrying trend and require urgent intervention to safeguard the open Internet.”
Udbhav Tiwari, Public Policy Advisor at Mozilla
The demand for end-to-end encryption has increased steadily in the past decade and now it has the potential to become a gold standard for privacy. However, there are some requirements to make this happen: companies offering e2ee products need to go the extra mile to develop user-friendly apps, users need to value end-to-end encryption together with its complexities and potential trade-offs, and governments need to accept once and for all that no encryption backdoors are tolerable whatsoever. Having an even bigger demand for end-to-end encryption will help motivate and fuel more research into new technologies that can enable solving the usability challenges in the future”.
Istvan Lam, co-founder and CEO, Tresorit

For more information please contact [email protected]

About Global Encryption Day

Global Encryption Day is an opportunity for businesses, civil society organizations, technologists, and millions of Internet users worldwide to show governments and our communities why encryption matters to all of us. The larger the movement, the harder it will be for critics to make decisions that undermine our safety by weakening or banning end-to-end encryption.

Who’s Listening? Exposing Global Multicorp

In a world where sharing information securely is crucial to exposing corruption from the rich and powerful, strong encryption is key. Who’s Listening is an interactive story-telling game where players have to make meaningful decisions using strong encryption to protect themselves and others from danger.

Play as a local journalist attempting to break the biggest story of your career, while protecting your sources from nefarious forces intent on silencing them. Can you make the right choices to save the whistleblower’s life? Play the game.

About the Global Encryption Coalition

With over 200 members from across every region of the world, the Global Encryption Coalition promotes and defends encryption in key countries and multilateral fora where it is under threat. It also supports efforts by companies to offer encrypted services to their users.  The Global Encryption Coalition (GEC) was founded by the Center for Democracy & Technology, Global Partners Digital and the Internet Society.