Towards a world without mass surveillance

EFF image

A blog post from Ben Creet, Senior Issues Advisor at InternetNZ
1 June 2016

What the EFF are trying to do here makes a lot of sense to us. So I was tasked with analysing their plan, gauging whether we can do something to help and then identifying what parts of it we can contribute to.

We’re honestly not sure if mass surveillance happens here in New Zealand - we don’t have enough real information to come down one way or another. However what we are sure of is that we think mass surveillance is bad for everyone. People often don’t say or do things if they think they’re being watched and this can be a handbrake for creativity and some basic human rights.

Mass surveillance is about more than just the NSA or the Five-Eyes. There are more than 20 countries that do, or try to do, Internet-based surveillance. We think that surveillance using the Internet - especially government surveillance - is a form of capture and this is a global issue that needs addressing.

We are an organisation that cares about the Internet and the importance of it being both open and uncapturable. That’s why we want to help work towards a world without mass surveillance.
Therefore, aside from the usual advocacy work of making submissions to Government and Parliament, InternetNZ will support the EFF’s Game Plan by:encouraging user-side encryptionencouraging and incentivising the creation of secure communication toolscontributing to the legal principles around surveillance and privacyincreasing transparency.

You might recognise some of these in our 2016/17 Activity Plan. We finished our analysis of the game plan early enough to use it to inform our options. The first cabs off the ranks for us are:

  • our easy transparency project with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, which we are already working on (so watch this space)
  • a project we’re calling Easy Encryption; focussing on encouraging user-side encryption which we’re aiming to do in quarter four of 2016.

We also anticipate working on forthcoming legislation changes for our intelligence agencies as the Government responds to the Independent Review of Intelligence and Security.

We think this sounds like a good set of initiatives. But we can’t do this work alone, and we actually don’t want to. We believe in working with, and on behalf of, New Zealand’s Internet community. We have some fantastic people and organisations in our Internet community and we want to work with these people on these projects and initiatives. So if this sounds like something that you, or your organisation, would like to be involved with, please get in touch with us.

Here are links through to our position paper and to the EFF Game Plan.