The UK Gov Coming For Our Online Privacy

The latest sketchy propaganda from the UK government suggests that we should give up our privacy when it comes to end-to-end encryption online. No, thank you.

What does end-to-end encryption mean?

Put simply, when you send a message, it’s like that message is locked and the only people with the key are you and the intended recipient. This means that even the messaging app can’t spy on what you’re saying. It’s how people are able to send important documents, private information, and even do things like online banking. E2EE overall keeps us and our messages safe. To get rid of online privacy sets a dangerous precedent. More about E2EE here.

The #NoPlaceToHide Campaign aka Big Brother Wants to Watch You

The campaign attacks our privacy by trying to guilt and manipulate us into deciding that it’s best for us that the government can read our messages and police our private chats. Instead of trying to help at the root of crime and problems, the government simply hired an ad agency, spent a lot of money on advertising (*cough* propaganda), and an actual PR stunt with hired actors in a box (I haven’t seen this yet but it sounds grim). Yep. Not helpful.

Riana Pfefferkorn writes: “The goal of this propaganda campaign is to turn the UK public’s opinion against their own privacy, not just in their electronic conversations, but even in the home, where the right to privacy is strongest and most ancient… but the new twist of hiring an ad agency to sell people their own subjugation, using their own tax money, is just insulting.”

What is the problem with this campaign?

There are many.

The government’s campaign does not suggest an actual solution – while it’s accepted that E2EE is necessary for our individual privacy, the line they’re going with is still that holding onto our privacy is the wrong thing to do. 

It’s awkward to spend £534,000 of tax-payer money on some propaganda ads without offering an actual solution. If the problem is real, the government could use that money to fund research and studies to partner with online sites and apps to come to a solution. And it’s incredibly manipulative to use the cry “think of the children”.

At first, I thought – wouldn’t it be a solution (I’m a problem solver) to have something like “Teen Version” for social media and messaging apps, where parents could have access. But the second I thought of that, I immediately panicked – what if the parent IS the abuser and there is now no private safe channel of communication for that child to get help?

There will always be bad people who misuse things. People misuse the internet – should we ban the internet? The entire campaign is like saying “knife crime is far too prevalent in the UK” (it is) “therefore we should ban all knives. No idea what you are going to cut your food with. We’re going to spend £534,000 of the money you paid in taxes to create a PR stunt featuring a knife.” That would seem ridiculous.

Don’t just take my word for it…

Luckily, there are some very smart people speaking out against this, and so many sources to learn from. This article seeks to educate people on why end-to-end encryption is important and discusses what the problems really are and what else should be done.

More links to read and learn from:

UK Data Watchdog dispels these claims and explains that E2EE keeps us safer.

Riana Pfefferkorn sums it up really well here 

Some times that Priti Patel did not “think of the children”.

More about the campaign here

And here

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