Global Encryption Day 2023: bigger than ever!

The third annual Global Encryption Day on 21 October 2023 was bigger than ever! Encryption defenders from around the world made their voices heard to promote and defend the use of strong encryption, discussing the challenges facing encryption today and sharing their vision for a future where encryption makes everyone stronger.

Global Encryption Day 2023 included:

  • Over 70 events across five continents;
  • Over 210 organizations who signed on to the Global Encryption Day statement; And
  • many government officials, legislators, business and academic leaders who added their voice to the message of promoting and defending strong encryption on Global Encryption Day.

To celebrate Global Encryption Day, the Steering Committee of the Global Encryption Coalition held the first ever Encryption Summit on 19 October, under the theme “power to the people.” The summit brought together experts, business leaders, and other key stakeholders to discuss the state of the global debate around encryption policy and highlight the importance of protecting strong encryption. In five sessions, the Summit covered the state of the encryption debate in South Asia, the dangers of client-side scanning, the pitfalls and opportunities around content moderation within end-to-end encrypted environments, stories of how strong encryption empowered communities, and how encryption is used beyond messaging.

Check out the summit session recordings below!

Encryption and Free Expression in South Asia
Hosted by the Internet Freedom Foundation

“… in the region, what we see is that our offline rights are being undermined, our constitution, the laws that protect our rights. And in that instance I think we’re also at a loss…We’re battling very hard and firefighting every day to protect that space, and therefore many people have moved from that space to cyberspace, and that is the perhaps for some of them, the only space they have.”

Ambika Satkunanathan, Former Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka

Life in a World of Scanning
Hosted by the Internet Society

“End-to-end encryption creates a secure pipeline between you and another person, which third parties […] can’t inspect, even if they put pressure on the intermediary. Client-side scanning is a government response to the existence of that secure pipeline, saying “if we can’t see what’s inside it, we want access to the contents either before they go into it, or after they come out of it”.

One Dutch newspaper put it like this: Instead of steaming open the envelope at the post office, client-side scanning is like reading the letter over your shoulder as you write it. I think that gives us a very strong indication as to why it is a problematic technology.”

Robin Wilton, Internet Society

Ciphered Frontiers: Encryption’s Implications Beyond Personal Messaging
Hosted by Mozilla

“[Encryption] is so embedded in everything you do, that it’s almost a weird question to ask. It’s like, what’s the most exciting application of oxygen? It’s everywhere, keeps everyone alive. And to think about encryption as only messaging really misses everything encryption does to secure things we do every day. And it’s so foundational that we never even think about it – but it’s there. Anything you’re doing in the cloud, anything you’re doing with an object, there’s likely encryption embedded in it somewhere.”

Bruce Schneier, Harvard Kennedy School

Navigating Content Moderation In a World Embracing Encryption
Hosted by Center for Democracy and Technology

“For almost every category [of abusive content a provider of an encrypted service wants to detect] a content oblivious technique was deemed to be as, or more, useful for detecting abuse than a content dependent technique. And, specifically, user reporting, almost across the board, was deemed to be the most useful means of detecting abuse.”  

Riana Pfefferkorn, Stanford Internet Observatory

Encryption for All: Safeguarding Communications in Vulnerable Populations
Hosted by Digital Partners Global

“For apps to be more user friendly, developers should be investing more time working with users from vulnerable and marginalised communities. Groups can be facing jail time, criminalisation. [Do they know if] users are aware of how new features can subvert their privacy”? 

Caroline Sinders, Convocation Design + Research

“there’s a need to include children’s voices both in policy and design…there is a serious lack of data regarding children’s voices on encryption. It’s a polarised debate but that’s something most can agree on”. 

Diana Gheorghiu, Child Rights International Network