How does Encryption technology further both Privacy & Security
A universal truth today is that information is power. The access information or data, therefore, is sought out by those in the public as well as the private sphere. An imbalance in access to information poses several threats to democracy and its ideals. The need for privacy is one that is intrinsically human in nature. We have, particularly in the last decade or so, realised the importance of privacy in the digital sphere that has led to it being recognised as a fundamental right under the Constitution. Not knowing who has access to you or how they have access are questions that would adversely affect anyone’s mental state, but particularly those belonging to minorities or vulnerable communities. The urge to protect one’s privacy also extends to the need to protect oneself from the overarching security threats posed within the digital sphere. The lack of privacy in today’s times poses a terrifying surveillance regime which would do away with most, if not all, individual autonomy.
Encryption has become an essential first step in securing online safety. A secure channel of communication allows mental security and encourages fruitful debate that only strengthens a democracy. The arguments advanced against it are not unlike those advanced against encryption in the form of HTTPS years ago. While backdoor access to encrypted data has formed a significant part of this debate, the rationale behind the need to protect one’s privacy is questioned - “Why is your privacy so important?” The need of the hour is to shift the onus of answering such a question on those wanting to encroach upon private communication - “Why is my privacy not important?”
What are the various challenges associated with encryption? Do its advantages outweigh its disadvantages? How would such technology fit into India’s legal landscape? Do we need to deepen our understanding of the importance of our privacy? All this and more was discussed by our panellists Prof. Debayan Gupta from Ashoka University, Mr. Udbhav Tiwari who is a Public Policy Advisor at Mozilla Foundation and Mr. Anand Venkatanarayan, one of the leading technologists in India in the latest of the #SecDevTalks, a series by The Dialogue in partnership with Nullcon and CNN News18.