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In this occasion, the expert points out the large technology corporations as an ally not always present of the populations of the world, for the simple fact of that complete anonymity would directly interfere with cash flow. In his view, the issue for such companies is to ensure that the government does not have backdoors that allow access to private content, yes, but also to obtain this same access for their own use. It has created, he believes, a contrast in which the same organizations that previously fought for protection now fear the next steps if a full shield is effectively applied.
“We’re at a point where encryption can become so complex that it’s impossible to crack without proper keys that only participants in a conversation will have,” explains Snowden. Here, he demonstrates a pessimistic stance, stating several times during the panel that privacy is dead and that, now, the ideal is to demand as much protection as possible against threats, since, with so many interests at stake, it is impossible get full protection.
- It shouldn’t be that way, he points out, and this would be an uncompromising discussion. But the expert is also a realist. “Cryptography is essential to maintaining the sanctity of our communications. Corporations and governments should be like beacons, transparent and clear, while individuals are boats. But when an institution measures everything you do, presents its news, indicates products for purchase and the cheapest airline tickets, affects business continuity. [Isso não muda o fato que] the only way to ensure that we are safe and that our lives remain private is to apply more protection.
- For Snowden, encryption application it is a matter of public safety and individual rights, as governments try to weaken protection and large corporations fear they will lose access to user metrics (Image: rawpixel/freepik)
Fostering this type of shield is one of the ideas of World Encryption Day, created this year by initiative of the Global Encryption Coalition. The organization brings together businesses and civil society in support of the application of secure communication protocols and stands against government initiatives to weaken data protection, while supporting platforms that make this their central point in providing solutions.
The other side
While stressing the need to use cryptography also from the cybercrime point of view, Snowden’s speech seems to echo a failed attempts by governments to obtain backdoors, especially after an attack that resulted in the manipulation of tools of this type that were used by the NSA. The disaster was such that, during the notorious intrusion into the systems of technology provider Juniper Networks, the National Security Agency saw the keys that allowed “only it” to access other people’s communications being replaced, with enemies linked to the Chinese state adding their own and assuming that capacity.
- This is why Snowden separates public security from national security and also shows the difficulty that a government, authoritarian or not, it would have to guarantee the necessary security for that purpose. “[Quem] wanting to break the privacy of its citizens, it has to isolate itself from the global communications standard, which is why the global effort in favor of cryptography is so important to evolve the discourse in favor of privacy”, he says.
- In this sense, Brazil seems to be in a better position, especially after the approval, this Wednesday (20), of a Proposed Amendment to the Constitution that includes the protection of personal data among the fundamental rights of citizens. The PEC has already been validated by the Chamber of Deputies and is now going to be promulgated in Congress so that it can enter into force, without the need for presidential sanction.
“We need to follow this path to ensure that privacy is a right, no matter how repressive or not the government. There is a kind of trust that can only be obtained with strong cryptography”, said Luiza Brandão, co-founder and director of IRIS, the Institute of Reference in Internet and Society. She also mentions protection services for women who suffer domestic violence, whose essential bases are established on the cryptography that guarantees the confidentiality of complaints. On the other hand, proposals aimed at weakening protection or opening backdoors, as also seen in recent Brazilian history, follow the opposite path and compromise the safety of all.
- In this regard, Istvan Lam, co-founder and CEO of Tresorit, a cloud hosting service focused on privacy, closed the World Encryption Day seminar with an alert. “It’s impossible to see what will go wrong if the fundamental foundation of cryptography is weakened. This is never a good idea and people would be surprised at the impact on their lives of a lower level of protection.”
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