An Encrypted Internet Is a Basic Human Right (Op-Ed)

In the next decade, billions of online citizens will join the Web, making national borders less relevant and the world more connected. Technology, as well as the hopes it fuels, has empowered millions of people across the globe to demand social and political change from some of its most oppressive governments. Yet, the same technology is being used to suppress and surveil more than half of the world’s population: those still living under undemocratic regimes and lacking basic rights.

The right to private communication

The establishment of the U.S. Postal Service was one of the most visionary civil liberties events of its time, deeply rooted in Washington’s belief that a strong state and society can only exist if every citizen has access to uncensored information and can freely communicate, away from the government’s prying eyes. The Postal Act of 1792 that led to the founding of the modern post office established free speech and a right to private communications, going as far as imposing the death penalty for robbing mail service personnel. The newly established post office was envisioned to be the antipode of the crown post operated by the British government, which frequently opened and censored correspondence.

The same commitment to privacy and access to free, uncensored information is the reason we started Wickr. We currently serve millions of private, encrypted Wickr messages each day for users in more than 190 countries. Our vision is to bring this service to billions by making strong, trusted encryption incredibly easy and intuitive for personal or business use. This is only the beginning. [Right to Privacy: Constitutional Rights & Privacy Laws ]

Today, society needs to breathe new life into Washington’s idea of an uncensored post office service by providing these basic rights to all 3 billion people already connected to the Web, and to those who will be coming online in the next decade. We need to collectively balance our global Web to ensure the Internet remains a platform for free speech and uncensored information, where privacy and real human connection enable strong social discourse and economic prosperity.

I call that space the private Web.

Away from prying eyes

The public Web has brought us incredible innovations that have improved lives and celebrated human creativity. But as we all move online, it becomes increasingly clear that, just as with any complex and ever-evolving system, the Internet requires a long-overdue fine-tuning.

We, as Web users, are generating millions of pieces of information about the most personal aspects of our lives on a daily basis, creating dangerous treasure troves of detailed and calibrated information. Once that information is in the open, we lose ownership of it, to the point that we do not even know who is collecting it.


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Camilla Wood

UK based Legal Aid Lawyer

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