Dear Fight for the Future member,
I wish we didn’t have to send this email. I wish we could take this week to reflect and grieve. But some politicians are wasting no time exploiting tragedy and manipulating our emotions to push their political agendas. (1) We can’t remain silent.
The attacks in Paris and Beirut have all of us looking for answers. What can we do to stop this violence?
But while people around the world are grappling with that question, government officials are instead seizing the opportunity to renew their attacks on our most basic freedoms, even though they know it won’t make us safer from attacks.
Specifically, officials in the U.S. and Europe are pushing to ban strong encryption technology. (2) They want every type of Internet security to have a “backdoor” so that governments can access literally everything. Here’s the problem: weakening encryption will actually make us all less safe. Even if you trust governments to never abuse this system and only use it in the most extreme circumstances, once a backdoor exists, it can be used by anyone who can find it, including criminals, other governments, and yes, even terrorists. (3)
Fortunately, we’ve done a mountain of work over the last year educating the public and fighting this kind of misinformation, so more people than ever before know what’s really going on. Security experts agree that putting backdoors in encryption technology and letting the government collect even more of our personal information won’t prevent attacks like the ones we saw last week.
The battle lines are being drawn, but some powerful voices have been listening and are weighing in on the side of freedom and logic. The influential New York Times editorial board just came out swinging with the headline: “Mass surveillance is not the answer to fighting terrorism.” This is exactly the message leaders need to hear right now.
The details from Paris and Beirut are still emerging. The latest evidence suggests that the attackers were using totally unencrypted SMS messages. (4) The facts haven’t stopped politicians and pundits from demonizing encryption, but the reality is that it’s still not clear exactly how this happened, or how it could have been prevented.
What is clear is that now is not the time to make hasty decisions and rush to pass laws we’ve barely read. That path has failed us time and again. (5) Now is the time for informed, thoughtful, discussion about the causes of this violence and the real solutions to address it.
Weakening the encryption that protects our hospitals, power plants, airports, and personal information isn’t going to make us safer.
Collecting a giant haystack of data about hundreds of millions of innocent people is not going to stop the next attack.
We need real answers and solutions, not politicians scrambling spin this terrible situation to grab more power.
These decisions about encryption and mass surveillance will determine the type of world our children and our children’s children will live in. We shouldn’t let them be made for us by opportunistic politicians or violent attackers.
Yours for freedom and a better world,
~ Fight for the Future
P.S. Here’s a link directly to the New York Times editorial. Please share it widely! http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/18/opinion/mass-surveillance-isnt-the-answer-to-fighting-terrorism.html
P.P.S. This is probably the only time you’ll see us rallying behind an NYT editorial. Savor the strangeness.
1. New York Times editorial board. “Mass Surveillance is Not The Answer to Fighting Terrorism” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/18/opinion/mass-surveillance-isnt-the-answer-to-fighting-terrorism.html?smid=tw-share&_r=2
2. Huffington Post. “It’s Unclear if Paris Attackers Relied on Encryption. Lawmakers are Attacking it Anyway.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/paris-attackers-cell-phone-encryption-terrorism_564cd67fe4b08c74b733d8ce?cbfyldi
3. The Guardian. “Academics criticize NSA and GCHQ for weakening online encryption.” http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/sep/16/nsa-gchq-undermine-internet-security
4. Techdirt. “After endless demonization of encryption, police find Paris attackers coordinated via unencrypted SMS” https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20151118/08474732854/after-endless-demonization-encryption-police-find-paris-attackers-coordinated-via-unencrypted-sms.shtml
5. The Intercept. “From Paris to Boston, Terrorists Were Already Known to Authorities.” https://theintercept.com/2015/11/18/terrorists-were-already-known-to-authorities/