1. Privacy is a fundamental right, not a favor.
2. Anonymity and encryption are indispensable for privacy.
3. Privacy preservation necessitates proactive individual involvement.
4. Corporate and governmental systems may pose threats to privacy.
5. Anchoring Democracy in the Pillars of Privacy and Security.
6. The inevitability of time will test systems' resilience.
7. Self-custody of private keys reinforces privacy.
8. How to bring privacy into your digital life ?
As we go deeper into the digital age, the issue of privacy becomes increasingly critical. Privacy has transformed from being a secluded concern to becoming a core pillar of an individual's digital identity. This article embarks on a journey to assert that privacy isn't a favour granted by corporations or governments; instead, it's a fundamental human right. We'll explore why anonymity and encryption are crucial for privacy, the significance of individuals' proactive roles, and the pitfalls of relying on corporations and governments for privacy protection. Ultimately, we aim to underline the indispensability of self-custody for ensuring privacy around crypto assets.
Privacy: A right, not a favour
Privacy, in any democratic society, should be understood as a human right. A right to which every individual is inherently entitled, regardless of any factor such as race, nationality, or socioeconomic status. Privacy is not a privilege accorded to us by governments or corporations. Instead, it is a fundamental right that affirms our human dignity and autonomy.
Unlike privileges, which can be granted and rescinded based on various factors, human rights are inalienable. Governments and corporations must acknowledge this crucial difference. However, a disturbing trend has emerged, with powerful entities treating privacy as a favour that they can bestow or withhold, depending on their discretion. This perception is both dangerous and degrading. It strips individuals of their autonomy and devalues the very essence of privacy.
Anonymity and encryption: Essential tools for privacy
In the digital age, anonymity and encryption have emerged as essential tools for ensuring privacy. These tools allow individuals to shield their identities and protect their information from unauthorised access, thereby enabling them to exercise control over their personal data.
However, these tools have come under fire from various quarters. Some governments have sought to regulate or even prohibit encryption under the guise of national security. This stance is deeply problematic. Without encryption, we become vulnerable to all sorts of cyber threats, including identity theft, hacking, and online surveillance.
For these reasons, any attempt to regulate or restrict encryption should be resisted. Instead, we should be promoting technologies and policies that strengthen encryption and safeguard our privacy. This includes endorsing open-source systems, which are inherently transparent and can be independently verified for their security features. Nothing is perfect, but open-source code greatly improves transparency.
The need to actively defend privacy
Privacy, like any other right, requires active defence and enforcement. It's unrealistic and even dangerous to solely depend on external entities like governments or corporations to safeguard our privacy. This reliance often leads to complacency, creating a false sense of security that our privacy is being protected.
The harsh reality is that these entities may not always act in people's best interest. Governments may succumb to the temptation of mass surveillance in the name of "national security" or "state of emergency", while corporations may exploit user data for commercial gain.
It's important to underline that many governments are authoritarian by nature. According to HRF's 2020 annual report, 54% of the world's population — that's 4.2 billion people — live under authoritarian regimes. For them, privacy could occasionally tip the scales between life and death.
An effective way to protect our privacy is by using privacy-enhancing technologies, such as encryption tools (VPN, encrypted emails, secure messaging, etc...), anonymity networks (such as Tor) and, of course, open-source, decentralised and censorship resistant crypto networks such as Bitcoin, to store and transact value with. These tools allow us to control what information we share and with whom we share it. Additionally, they make it harder for unauthorised parties to access our data or funds, thereby safeguarding our freedom.
Are corporations and governments reliable guardians of privacy?
While many corporations and governments proclaim to uphold user privacy, their claims may not always hold water. The line between a truly open-source system by design, with robust encryption, and a lookalike system that merely gives an illusion of privacy is precariously thin.
Corporations often have economic incentives that may justify softer privacy terms, while governments regularly use arguments of national security to justify their intrusive surveillance. It's essential to question these systems and practices critically and demand transparency.
There is an increasing trend of governments and corporations making tall claims about privacy and encryption. However, these claims often fall flat under scrutiny. In many cases, these entities use privacy as a marketing gimmick without providing substantial protections. This trend is deeply concerning, as it undermines the public's trust in these institutions and exacerbates the privacy crisis.
Anchoring Democracy in the Pillars of Privacy and Security
The digital era thrusts upon us an intricate web wherein the preservation of an intimate sphere of privacy not only becomes a civil necessity but also stands firm as an inalienable human right, pivotal for safeguarding democratic values and ensuring the perpetuation of a free world. A scrupulous balance, however, must be recognized between sustaining individual privacy and mitigating the exploitation of digital anonymity by malicious entities. While encrypted tools and anonymization techniques can, indeed, be manipulated by nefarious actors, providing clandestine channels for communication and obfuscation of illicit activities, this represents a challenge to be met with innovative, targeted approaches rather than a broad compromise on privacy norms. Technological advancements permit the development of alternative, enhanced methods for tracking criminal and terrorist activities, such as artificial intelligence-driven analysis, behavior prediction, and anonymous tip platforms, negating the necessity to erode the privacy rights of the collective. Thus, the challenge navigated in the continual evolution of digital privacy is the crafting of a judicious equilibrium, where the imperative of individual privacy rights is upheld whilst concurrently ensuring a robust framework for the security of society at large. The strategic alignment of technological capabilities, legal frameworks, and ethical imperatives demands a meticulous exploration and understanding of the myriad facets embedded within both individual rights and collective security in the digital age."
This formulation seeks to encapsulate the dual need for upholding privacy as an inviolable right essential for democratic sustenance while acknowledging and addressing the potential malfeasance shielded by privacy tools, all within a professional tone. It's crafted to weave the complexities and nuances of the topic into a cohesive narrative, positioning privacy not merely as a personal necessity but as a bulwark of democratic practice and freedom of expression, with a nod toward innovative approaches to security challenges.
Removing third parties: A step towards robust privacy
When it comes to privacy, encryption, and trust, we need to rethink our reliance on third parties. There are inherent risks associated with this dependence that often go unnoticed. The critical question to ask here is, how long can a system promise and maintain privacy and encryption? Digital services are vulnerable, and they can fail for a range of reasons, either within a short span or over a longer period.
Moreover, the survival of these systems isn't merely about their existence. It's also about how they evolve and adapt to changing circumstances. For instance, a corporation may remain in business for decades, but its commitment to privacy can waver due to various factors such as changes in leadership, market pressures, or regulatory constraints.
Not your keys, not your coins: The imperative of self-custody
When it comes to digital assets like cryptocurrencies, the adage "not your keys, not your coins" aptly encapsulates the need for self-custody. Trusting third parties with your digital assets is equivalent to entrusting them with your privacy.
The act of entrusting a third-party with your full seed is akin to handing them the keys to your assets. This creates a precarious situation where the safety of your assets hinges on the third-party's continued trustworthiness and operational efficiency. Potential failure points are numerous: from internal attacks within the custodial organisation to external threats enticed by the wealth accumulated in one place, not to mention the risks of organisational bankruptcy or legal actions and the specter of the custodian colluding against you.
An alternative is to delegate a share of the seed to a third-party, while retaining the remainder for yourself. This approach allows you to capitalise on the resilience and convenience offered by the third-party for as long as they are in operation.
However, contingency plans should be in place for a scenario where the third-party ceases to exist or the entrusted share becomes inaccessible. In such situations, it's vital that you have retained enough shares to recover the full seed independently.
How to bring privacy into your digital life ?
As discussed above in this article, ensuring privacy in the digital realm invariably boils down to encryption and, fundamentally, 'who holds the keys?'
Across various digital platforms and services, including email, cloud storage, and password managers, the challenge of maintaining privacy hinges on whether or not third-parties are entrusted with your encryption keys.
Bitcoin: Enveloping Finances with Encryption
Bitcoin heralds a shift in this paradigm, providing not only an encrypted envelope around your finances but also empowering you to hold your own keys, without the need to rely on external entities. This characteristic renders your Bitcoins unassailable and impossible to seize, placing unequivocal control in your hands and constructing a fortress of privacy around your funds. Applying this to other online services has become paramount.
Seeding Privacy Across Digital Services
Presently, certain cloud service providers, committed to advocating for privacy, have instituted systems that are designed from the ground up to safeguard privacy, wherein they hold no keys to your data's ultimate layer of encryption. Sole possession of these keys is vested in you, solidifying your data’s privacy because when it comes to keys: not your keys, not your data.
The Proton example: A Suite of Privacy-Centric ToolsPrivacy-focused service provider Proton has formulated a comprehensive suite of tools, including encrypted email, cloud storage, calendar, VPN, and a password manager, all underpinned by open-source technology and enabling you to retain your own keys. Mirroring the offerings of software wallets, they’ve introduced an option for customers to back up their keys using a recovery file or a 12-word seed phrase, acting as a master password to retrieve all your data if your password is lost.
Extended Control over Your Digital Footprint
Consequently, the same command you have over your crypto and Bitcoin can now extend to your emails, calendar, cloud data, VPN connection, and all your passwords. If Proton is new to you, exploring their offerings may well be worthwhile. Furthermore, all Hodlr products are compatible with Proton recovery seeds, ensuring a seamless, secure experience.
In conclusion, privacy, isn't a favour granted by governments or corporations—it's a fundamental right that we must assert and defend. The increasing prevalence of digital technologies has made it imperative for individuals to take active steps towards protecting their privacy. This includes leveraging encryption and anonymity tools, practising self-custody of digital assets, and critically evaluating the privacy practices of corporations and governments.
In a world deeply entrenched in digital platforms, security and privacy have emerged as paramount concerns. With encryption and control over keys forming the bastion against data compromise, mechanisms like self-custody of keys, exemplified by Bitcoin, and the adoption of privacy-centric tools have become essential.
Online services providers like Proton, delivering a robust suite of encrypted and user-key-controlled tools and offering the option to backup your encryption keys with a 12 words seed, represent a stride towards harnessing technology and cryptography to safeguard our digital activities and assets. It is not merely about choosing platforms wisely but also about embracing practices and technologies that enforce privacy by design.
The journey towards a secure digital future isn’t about isolating aspects of our online existence but seamlessly intertwining every facet - from finances to communication, in a fortress of secure, user-controlled encryption. As the aphorism amongst cryptocurrency enthusiasts goes: "Not your keys, not your coins"; this may well be broadened to encompass all digital assets and communications in the future, asserting an era where you are the sole gatekeeper of your digital world.
If you ever need help understanding more about privacy or choosing the right tools for your self-custody needs, you can always reach out to our expert team at Hodlr. We're always glad to help, and you can reach us through our online chat or email us at email@example.com.