BenCreetA blog post from Ben Creet, Senior Issues Advisor at InternetNZ
19 January 2016

Secure the Internet is an international open letter to global leaders asking them to strengthen the security of communications and systems and:

“reject laws, policies, or other mandates or practices, including secret agreements with companies, that limit access to or undermine encryption and other secure communications tools and technologies" 

We believe in an open and uncapturable Internet, and signing up to Secure the Internet is a good way of reinforcing our opinion. It speaks to similar themes as Andrew’s blog post from last year on implications for the Internet following the Paris attacks. 

One of the main things that we really like is that encryption is not a problem. It’s an enabler of any Internet-connected economic activity. 

“Strong encryption and the secure tools and systems that rely on it are critical to improving cybersecurity, fostering the digital economy, and protecting users.”

Encryption is necessary to protect payment information, ensure that no-one else is listening in to your important business call, it keeps your neighbours from using your wifi for their dodgy browsing and it ensures that someone can’t suck all the information out of your locked phone or laptop. Attempting to restrict or licence encryption to only “trustworthy” parties will prevent permissionless innovation, undermining the Internet as an engine of growth. Mandating backdoors both technically degrades the security of the system, it also risks confidence on the whole system.

So when an opportunity to sign onto a global letter like this arrives, we jump at it. InternetNZ has signed and is alongside organisations like the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, ACLU, Cloudflare, DuckDuckGo, Freedom House, Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2coalition), New America’s Open Technology Institute and the Tor Project. 

But, as one of our members pointed out, simply signing a letter isn’t enough alone. We agree, and that’s why part of our Law and Rights and Security portfolios are directly about making sure that there in New Zealand our society doesn’t drift into mass surveillance, that we don’t just sacrifice our privacy and the permissionless innovation that the Internet offers us “because terrorism”.

We’re committed to working for an open and uncapturable Internet. An Internet where human rights are applied and respected. We’re going to keep working for that, both through this initiative and through the rest of the work we do here at InternetNZ.

That’s why we’ve signed up to demand #SecurityForAll.