Privacy & Encryption Will Be More Important Than Ever In Wake Of Coronavirus

from the encrypt-ALL-the-things! dept

Be it Cambridge Analytica, Equifax, or wireless carrier location data, the U.S. has already faced a steady parade of privacy and security related scandals. Now as countries around the world hunker down to slow the rate of COVID-19, the problem could easily grow even larger as a chain reaction of implications make privacy, security, and tools like encryption more important than ever.

Millions of Americans are now telecommuting for the first time. As they do so, more than a few of them won't be wise enough to use basic security precautions while handling sensitive work or health related data. And as we've noted for years, services like VPNs often don't provide reliable protection, given it's hard to verify just how secure or trustworthy service owners are. Many services were already shady as hell, and even the reliable offerings may struggle under the load.

Many folks are already using the pandemic as scam fodder. As a result, the shift to home work -- and the dramatic spike in healthcare information being shoveled around the internet -- means that the battle over encryption is also more important than ever:

As with everything this pandemic is going to touch, there are layers and layers of complications here. Many popular teleconferencing services don't have particularly great privacy standards. And with no U.S. privacy law to speak of for the internet era (outside of the problematic COPPA), it shouldn't be hard to see how we might run into some additional problems. It should also be easy to see how the pandemic may provide justification for all manner of problematic privacy and security related behavior, from the war on encryption to the quest to expand domestic surveillance.

Israel, for example, has started using a previously unknown database of phone location data to help track the spread of COVID-19. The Washington Post this week indicated that both Google and Facebook (that bastion of privacy-related trust) are also working with the U.S. government to explore the use of location data to help combat the spread of the virus. Experts suggest that we should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, including data sharing and sunset provisions into any efforts designed to battle the pandemic:

We're only going to have so much attention to go around as we worry about ourselves, our families, and our livelihoods. Unfortunately, the pandemic could easily provide cover for the steady expansion of problematic domestic surveillance efforts that continues at a pretty brisk clip, even in normal times.

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Filed Under: covid-19, encryption, privacy, surveillance, tracking

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  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 19 Mar 2020 @ 6:44am


    We need government mandated ROT17.

    "The government selected ROT17 because two applications of it will not revert the ciphertext back to plain text.", the senator explained.

    "...and furthermore", the senator added, "we chose ROT17 because 17 is a prime number unlike 13."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Mar 2020 @ 8:01am

      Re: ROT17

      pfl wleep!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        DannyB (profile), 20 Mar 2020 @ 6:48am

        Re: Re: ROT17

        That would rotating 17 backward or 9 forward.

        aqw hwppa
        brx ixqqb
        csy jyrrc
        dtz kzssd
        eua latte
        fvb mbuuf
        gwc ncvvg
        hxd odwwh
        iye pexxi
        jzf qfyyj
        kag rgzzk
        lbh shaal
        mci tibbm
        ndj ujccn
        oek vkddo
        pfl wleep
        qgm xmffq
        rhn ynggr
        sio zohhs
        tjp apiit
        ukq bqjju
        vlr crkkv
        wms dsllw
        xnt etmmx
        you funny
        zpv gvooz

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Mar 2020 @ 9:16am

    as long as the government and security services can get round them, that's all that will matter. our 'privacy and security' dont mean squat anymore, as pointless as 'land of the free, home of the brave'. welcome to today's USA!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    tom (profile), 19 Mar 2020 @ 5:28pm

    Because sunset clauses have worked so well to contain government spending.

    Also funny that many of the same Congress critters who where so eager to pillory government officials of present and past administrations for using unencrypted communication methods are now worried that folks might use encrypted comms.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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