How Free Market Encryption Can Combat Big Brother
Encryption and decentralized technologies are giving people who value their real life freedoms options for their online life.
Imagine a day when you wake up and see zero likes on your latest post. You upload a new meme your friends would like and still see no activity. Clicking open a chat window you ask a friend if they’d like to come over later, but still no response. You finally call that friend and ask if you’ve done something to alienate them — only to find out they haven’t seen your comments, posts, or messages. Googling this scenario you realize you’ve been shadow banned; muzzled and isolated by a tech company without realizing it and no recourse.
This is a real scenario some Americans have faced. Through subtle nudges on every interaction, social media has the ability to shape how people communicate. Algorithms, selective censorship, shadow banning, surveillance and a host of other tricks are being leveraged to drive global conversations, and by extension, how people think.
While the United States Constitution provides there will be no abridging the freedom of speech by government, this constitutional right only limits governmental actors and not private actors. Social Media companies like Facebook, Twitter, et al. have the ability (and right) to curate their environment how they like, just as users have the right to choose not use their platform.
Despite the rights involved, Americans increasingly feel watched, manipulated and censored by “big tech”. Some politicians have even claimed that social media companies are turning into unaccountable monopolies that must be regulated.
Thankfully, innovators are already meeting this demand and providing competitive alternatives which prioritize free expression and privacy. Programs utilizing encryption and decentralized communication technology are pioneering new ways for users to interact without fear of surveillance and censorship, and without need of government regulation.
Keybase, for instance, is an end-to-end encrypted messenger. That means a corporation or third party can’t read your messages even if they wanted to. By extension this means they aren’t mining your private conversations for personal information, arbitrarily deleting your groups, or silently blocking your ability to send links they disagree with. Instead the technology underlying Keybase allows you to chat 1-1 with individuals and larger teams completely uncensored. The app also does other things like help validate identity and encrypt file sharing, but most people looking for a home after deleting Facebook will find the chat and team functionality of Keybase a close enough replacement.
Online existence is a simulacrum of real life and critical to modern society. Many people understandably don’t want their life, thoughts and politics dictated by “big tech” or to give up their digital privacy in exchange for access to the Internet. Encryption and decentralized technologies are giving people who value their real life freedoms options for their online life.
Note from the Editor:
Frontier is pleased to announce the addition of Eric Fulton as an Education Fellow for our Frontier of Privacy Initiative.
Eric will be a regular contributor to the Frontier Institute’s blog, breaking down the most pressing issues on the frontier of tech, identity and privacy.
Eric is a tech entrepreneur, information security expert, and self-described “identity evangelist,” with over 10 years of experience advocating for privacy and internet freedom. With Frontier of Privacy, Eric continues his mission of contributing to a secure, free, open Internet.
In addition to contributing on our blog, Eric will be participating in a series of upcoming events around Montana, speaking about data privacy and how you can protect your online information from mass surveillance.
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