sean cassidy : Don't Give Up and Die

in: philosophy

Today, Groklaw shuttered its doors due to concerns of on-going privacy invasions. I understand pg's point of view and sympathize deeply, but I disagree. It is more important than ever to not give up, to not stop writing, to not stop writing privacy software.

When your government is tyrannical, you should not give up. You must right this injustice. When Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he said that when any government does not provide for the safety of its people and protect their innate human rights it must be abolished1.

I think that's unobtainable and undesirable2 in our modern world. Instead, we should join the EFF and the ACLU. We should protest openly and write our representatives messages. We should also solve the problem of communicating securely.

We need to provide the people tools they need to fight back.

I wrote the Diluvian Network to provide a safe and anonymous verison of CryptoCat. It wasn't particularly well received when I sent it to LiberationTech but that's the point of peer review in security software. Software gets reviewed, and then fixed or dropped if its bad enough. If more people were thinking about this problem, we could solve it.

The best open source project you could help with would be BitMessage. I plan on reviewing BitMessage in depth as I was trying to solve a similar problem, and you should too. Particularly, if we could make it as easy to use as CryptoCat is, we would be a great deal closer to solving anonymous and secure communication.

We must make sure that in a few years time, no one will say this again3:

There is now no shield from forced exposure. Nothing in that parenthetical thought list is terrorism-related, but no one can feel protected enough from forced exposure any more to say anything the least bit like that to anyone in an email, particularly from the US out or to the US in, but really anywhere. You don't expect a stranger to read your private communications to a friend. And once you know they can, what is there to say? Constricted and distracted. That's it exactly. That's how I feel.

  1. It was telling for me personally that I debated publishing this paragraph, for fear that some governmental official would read it and not the paragraph that followed it. 

  2. For a long reason why I feel this way, read The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker. 

  3. I think NSA snooping is particularly troubling because of the chilling effects it has on free speech. I think that because of the negative effect it has on free speech, the US government will eventually stop doing this. They've certainly done much worse before. Check out From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act by Christopher Finan for some excellent history on free speech in America. Did you know there were actually two red scares? 

Sean is the Head of Security at Asana, a work management platform for teams.

Follow @sean_a_cassidy