DIGITAL ERA - "Forget How Smart Your Phone Is, What About Protecting My Data!"

by Ron Morales October. 18, 2020 925 views
Photo: CyberHacker

Photo: CyberHacker

Written by Michelle Botello

In the digital era we are one busy people on the internet and we like to be informed about what lies beyond the screen.  Today’s technology can be hacked and that’s the truth.  At the European Security Summit webinar October 13-15 a wide variety of sessions took place. 

The event lasted three days in the Brussel time zone, but can be viewed on YouTube.  With today’s technology, one thing in mind can be encryption, the sure way to keep personal data safe.

Without encryption millions of people would be in danger of being exposed in every form and shape and some governments and organizations want to weaken this and compromise all that we have, our health and security, globally.

Photo: Kruptos_Encryption-Key

Photo: Kruptos_Encryption-Key

How encryption works is you send data, it scrambles data with the means to return it to the party you sent it to in a readable state so that party can read it.  No third party can read this data.  Encryption protects data by scrambling info, like when you use a credit card, your card scrambles, until it reaches the other end, then it is readable again.

Any intruder between point A and B cannot read this data before it is scrambled.  Drug cartels, hate speech, misinformation, child exploitation, and terrorism can become part of your system without encryption and if the third party rule is broken. 

Photo: Internet Society - Ryan Polk (Senior Policy Advisor)

Photo: Internet Society - Ryan Polk (Senior Policy Advisor)

Forum Europe presents Global Encryption Coalition (GEC) by Internet Society.  The group was started in 2020 with the Center of Democracy and Technology (CDT) and Global Partners Digital (GPD).  Ryan Polk, The Internet Society (ISOC) Senior Policy Advisor at the ISOC shares a description of the society.  He is a group of civil society, private sector and technologists who work to promote and defend encryption around the world.

Photo: eaPolitics

Photo: eaPolitics

Iverna McGowan, Director of the Europe office for CDT where she leads the Brussels-based Europe team who work towards Human Rights and Democracy with the European Union, is for fundamental rights in the European Union known as the union for local champion for privacy rights.  McGowan said there is a leaked paper on technical solutions about child sexual abuse and encryption communications.  She has been working with others for many years for a solution to this issue, being a Human Rights lawyer as well.

McGowan said that it is unusual to see the European policy level steal this discussion about whether or not we need to totally safeguard encryption since the Union is so protected.  

"The key is it protects our data online. Especially during the covid.  Everyone uses encryption, and even the government cannot break the third party rule.  Unless you use the key escrow, called the “back door”, where you encrypt and decrypt the data, but then your data becomes an “open door" to criminals."

The debate is concrete in Europe and the E privacy directive, AKA a data protection directive, and can be used for its purpose but also for surveillance. 

Sheetal Kumar, Senior Program Leader at Global Partners Digital (GPD), Photo: Global Partners Digital (GPD).

Sheetal Kumar, Senior Program Leader at Global Partners Digital (GPD), Photo: Global Partners Digital (GPD).

Sheetal Kumar, Senior Program Leader at Global Partners Digital (GPD) where she shares with the Global Building Society program and also joins in Civil Society and other forums, provides strategic oversight for GPD’s global cybersecurity capacity program, supports civil society, and has earned an MSc in Media, Communications and Development from the London School of Economics and an MA in International Relations with French from the University of St. Andrews. where she  also joins in Civil Society and other forums.

The Global Coalition was founded in January 2020 by three organizations,, SEDT, GPD, and the GEC to defend strong encryption wherever it is under threat. Kuman points out that this debate has been growing over the years due to encryption rational, language, and technical approaches which have been proposed. 

She said that what unites this coalition is their commitments to the founding statement which you can find in the website. Also, “We call all governments and the private sector as well to reject efforts, underline cryption, and to pursue actively policies that enhance, strengthen and promote the use of strong encryption to protect people everywhere.”  

The GDP is about the support towards local members and their meetings with stakeholders in order to push back the attempt to underline encryption.  In all, she said  that now our lives are world-collectively more dependent on technology, and how important it is to defend strong encryption and the efforts of the coalition.

Kuman stated that their members are from all over the world and are represented in all regions of the world.  Umbrella, Civil Site Organizations, Academics, Technologists and companies as well, big and small.

Q:  Ryan Polk:  How do we change the minds of governments who seem to have made up their minds already on encryption perhaps in ways that we don’t care about encryption and do we have a good chance of changing their minds?
A: Iverna McGowan:  Advocacy 101 is to recognize where the other person is coming from, so I think it’s really important for the advocates to listen and engage with the concerns of whether its government officials or politicians and then to really lay on the table what the alternate solutions are…”
A:  Ryan Polk:  I think another side too is ensuring that governments understand the value that encryption and the ending encryption play in their successes country and the safety of their people because, like I said earlier, it underpins so much that we just don’t realize and the people making decisions in governments may not realize that as well.  Ensuring that they understand the positive side of encryption is really crucial.


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