Edward Snowden and Golden Frog Present at SXSW
Edward Snowden, for obvious reasons, couldn’t attend in person, but he made a virtual appearance at the SXSW convention. At that convention, according to The Guardian, he referred to the tech crowd at the audience as the “firefighters” and told them that they have the power to help protect people’s privacy through technical standards.
Tech Business Leaders
The NSA spying scandal has brought together many prominent figures in the tech industry, who do, as Snowden said, have a unique position in being able to protect the rights of people on the Internet. Golden Frog, who provides the VyprVPN service, was also represented at the convention. The co-founder of the company, Ron Yokubaitis, sat on a panel with several other experts representing various views on privacy issues, for a spirited debate. You can go over to YouTube and watch it for yourself.
Golden Frog and Yokubaitis are not shy about where they stand on the issue, titling the panel “Take Back Your Internet”. Yokubaitis has been very vocal in advocating for Internet privacy and freedom and VyprVPN has even developed a protocol, Chameleon, that allows people behind national firewalls to get through by disguising the fact that their data is encrypted.
There has been a seemingly constant string of reports about the breadth and scope of the NSA surveillance program since Edward Snowden put most of their claims to the lie when he leaked internal documents. Since then, the New York Times has released reporting that has revealed that the FISA court, which is only supposed to approve or deny requests to spy in secret, has been increasingly reinterpreting laws in very questionable ways, all in secret. This led to some of the NSA’s eventual spying on civilians and anyone else who makes a phone call, uses the Internet or does virtually anything else via electronic means.
As Snowden said and as Yokubaitis’ presence on the panel demonstrates, tech companies can do a lot to increase privacy. One recommendation of privacy advocates is that companies start making end-to-end data encryption the norm rather than the exception, allowing people to take advantage of the privacy it provides without having to “opt in” through some convoluted process.
There are many other steps that tech companies can take, as well. One of the most effective is simple transparency. By letting users know how their data is handled and stored, VPN providers can ensure that users are empowered and, if there is a problem, that those users know about it.