Cyber-privacy Under the Current Administration

2017-04-12 19:41:01

Anyone paying a nickles worth of attention to the media see's the terrible things this administration is doing for American's online privacy. Currently there are two main fronts in the battle. Namely, crytography and net neutrality.


The obvious example here is the the government attempting to force Apple to unlock the iPhone of the San Bernadino shooting suspects. During the trial, it was made quite apparent that this wouldn't be an isolated instance and future requests are imminent. Though the requested Apple backdoor requirement was unnecessary due to outsourcing the crack, it is still unsettling to think elected officials agree that device manufacturers should put a backdoor into their cryptographic solutions.

Backdoors are a terrible solution. At least the cybersecurity community can agree upon this (if little else). The reasoning behind this is quite simple. If a manufacturer has backdoor access to all of their users data, another entity (perhaps malicous) will discover an exploit to access all of that data as well. It's criminal to believe top-tier hackers aren't capable of this. If history has proven anything in security it's that given time, all things can be broken.

Net Neutrality

With the passing of SJ Res 34 and new bills introduced to strip net neutraility measures put in place by the last administration, I'm getting more uncomfortable with who my information is available to. If you're unfamiliar with SJ Res 34, basically it allows ISP's to sell your information to advertising companies, something it was previously banned from doing. The proponents argument was that hindering ISP's from monetizing customer information put them at a disadvantge to top Cyber companies like Google, Facebook, and the like. Personally, I think this argument is ludacris. Recent ideology is that the Internet is a basic human requirement. Try to picture you're life for a day without access to the Internet. It's arguably impossible, whereas alternatives are plenty for Google's services (search, maps, mail, etc) and Facebook's hollow relationship platform. I fear the passing of these measures is a small glimpse into what will happen to the Internet during the next 4 years. With any luck, officals voting on the legislation will heed the advice of those who invented the Internet. One example being Tim Berners-Lee who has been outspoken in his opposition, going so far as to say VPN's aren't a good solution because it show's we're complacent with the changes (I'm paraphrasing of course).

Possible Counter-measures?

Much coverage on this topic focuses on VPN's, and while I think they are a good solution, they are not a perfect solution. Nothing is a perfect solution. The transfer of your privacy trust from the US government, ISP's, etc to the company with whom you're now effectively proxying your traffic is a personal preference.

Closing Remarks

Obvioulsy, I've missing about a million and a half link opportunities in this post (I got lazy), but if you're interested a quick DuckDuckGo search will fill the void. I've never been a very politically active individual but I might bust out a new pair of stomping boots before this is all said and done. Personally, I think legislation reducing the privacy of individuals is going to contribute to a massive increase in adoption of privacy enabling technologies. We've already seen this as app store downloads of the encrypted SMS app Signal soared following the election. With the ease of adoption and use of privacy tools increasing I don't see how the governments current approach is going to solve any of their issues.

tag(s): privacy