Mark Surman from Mozilla Foundation shares thoughts on why mobile encryption isn’t a luxury but a necessity – a cornerstone of a healthy internet.
Today, the Internet is one of our most important global public resources. It’s open, free and essential to our daily lives. It’s where we chat, play, bank and shop. It’s also where we create, learn and organize.
All of this is made possible by a set of core principles. Like the belief that individual security and privacy on the Internet is fundamental.
Mozilla is devoted to standing up for these principles and keeping the Internet a global public resource. That means watching for threats. And, as events over the last few months remind us, one of these threats to the open Internet has started to grow: efforts to undermine encryption.
Encryption is key to a healthy Internet. It’s the encoding of data so that only people with a special key can unlock it, such as the sender and the intended receiver of a message. Internet users depend on encryption everyday, often without realizing it, and it enables amazing things. It safeguards our emails and search queries, and medical data. It allows us to safely shop and bank online. And it protects journalists and their sources, human rights activists and whistleblowers.
Encryption is key to a healthy Internet. It’s the encoding of data so that only people with a special key can unlock it, such as the sender and the intended receiver of a message. Internet users depend on encryption everyday, often without realizing it, and it enables amazing things.
Encryption isn’t a luxury — it’s a necessity. This is why Mozilla has always taken encryption seriously: it’s part of our commitment to protecting the Internet as a public resource that is open and accessible to all.
Over the last year, we’ve seen government agencies and law enforcement officials across the globe discussing policies that will harm user security through weakening encryption. This includes the so called Snoopers Charter in the UK and calls by agencies like the FBI for tech companies to create backdoors into encrypted communications.
In general, the justification for these policies is often that strong encryption helps bad actors. In truth, strong encryption is essential for everyone who uses the Internet. We respect the concerns of law enforcement officials, but we believe that proposals to weaken encryption — especially requirements for backdoors — would seriously harm the security of all users of the Internet.
At Mozilla, we continue to push the envelope with projects like Let’s Encrypt, a free, automated Web certificate authority dedicated to making it easy for anyone to run an encrypted website. Developed in collaboration with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Cisco, Akamai and many other technology organizations, Let’s Encrypt is an example of how Mozilla uses technology to make sure we’re all more secure on the Internet.
However, as more and more governments propose tactics like backdoors, technology alone will not be enough. We will need the online community to tell their elected officials that individual privacy and security online cannot be treated as optional. We can play a critical role if we get this message across.
We know this is a tough road. Most people don’t even know what encryption is. Or, they feel there isn’t much they can do about online privacy. Or, both. That’s why Mozilla launched a public education campaign about encryption. If we can educate millions of Internet users about the basics of encryption and its connection to our everyday lives, we’ll be in a good position to ask people to stand up when the time comes.
Join us at the 6th annual MEF Global Consumer Trust Summit in San Francisco on June 23rd to discuss the drivers in the mobile ecosystem when it comes to Privacy & Security. Showcasing a clear shift from simple compliance to business-critical, the Summit provides pragmatic insights, discussions and guidance on the value of Consumer Trust to businesses’ bottom-line.