Meanwhile, anti-encryption initiatives in the United States, including proposed legislation such as the Earn It Act, continue to set up law enforcement against technical protection. Peppercorns are aware of the scales. “You really can’t be pro-choice and anti-encryption at this point,” she says.
Researchers point out that encryption is often thought of in the context of enabling freedom of speech, but it can also be seen through the lens of self-defense.
“Effective, uncensored, covert communications are certainly far more valuable to resistance movements than small arms are,” said computer security consultant Ryan Lackey. “If you had magic, safe telepathy between everyone in your organization, in a civil war or resistance scenario where some of your allies were inside the opposition, you would not need a single gun to win.”
Lackey points out that there are parallels between encryption and firearms, as described in the second amendment, an observation which others have explored sometimes. The crucial element, however, is the connection to a right to self-defense, as the Supreme Court’s second amendment absolutists quote repeatedly as the “central component” of the law.
In addition to the ability of end-to-end encryption to protect people from their government, police and prosecutors, it also protects them from other people seeking to do harm, whether they are criminal hackers or violent extremists. While equating encryption with a weapon misinterprets its function – it’s much more shield than sword – these defenses are still the most powerful tool people have anywhere to protect their digital privacy. And a clear parallel can be drawn to the fervor with which gun advocates embrace their right to bear arms.
Stanford’s Pfefferkorn points out that it is logical and necessary for abortion providers, patients or anyone who is pro-choice to embrace and defend encryption in general, but especially in light of the overthrow of Roe v. Wade. She adds that at this moment, when the Supreme Court is reversing decades of established precedent on a series of issues at once, the most important generalizable takeaway is the benefits of access to end-to-end encryption and the need to maintain that access. .
“Laws can change. Social rules can change. The completely harmless conversation you had yesterday may come back to hurt you in many years,” says Johns Hopkins cryptographer Matthew Green. down and keep it forever. Encryption is just one way to give digital communications the same basic protection. “
Twenty-six states have either criminalized abortion, will do so, or are likely to take that step. How these laws will be enforced is still unknown. What is certain is that millions of people who had nothing to hide before the Supreme Court ruling on June 24 are now facing the prospect of potential targeting, surveillance and even imprisonment because of their reproductive health. And extensive encryption will be crucial to their self-defense. As Signals Marlinspike said during a panel discussion at the 2016 RSA Security Conference in San Francisco: “I actually think law enforcement should be difficult … I think it should actually be possible to break the law.”