In an opinion column at the Guardian, Cory Doctorow discusses the need for privacy-protective technology that is easy for the general public to use:
Internet privacy tools have an unfortunate but well-deserved reputation for being technically difficult and bothersome. There’s a persistent story that says that there is an intrinsic, irreducible complexity to the problem of keeping your communications from being snooped on and keeping your data from leaking that makes it the exclusive domain of spies and the professionally paranoid.
I don’t believe it. I think that the real reason that privacy is so user-unfriendly is that the case for privacy is intensely technical. […]
You don’t need to be a technical expert to understand privacy risks anymore. […]
The time has come to create privacy tools for normal people – people with a normal level of technical competence. That is, all of us, no matter what our level of technical expertise, need privacy. Some privacy measures do require extraordinary technical competence; if you’re Edward Snowden, with the entire NSA bearing down on your communications, you will need to be a real expert to keep your information secure. But the kind of privacy that makes you immune to mass surveillance and attacks-of-opportunity from voyeurs, identity thieves and other bad guys is attainable by anyone.
I’m a volunteer on the advisory board for a nonprofit that’s aiming to do just that: Simply Secure (which launches Thursday at simplysecure.org) collects together some very bright usability and cryptography experts with the aim of revamping the user interface of the internet’s favorite privacy tools, starting with OTR, the extremely secure chat system whose best-known feature is “perfect forward secrecy” which gives each conversation its own unique keys, so a breach of one conversation’s keys can’t be used to snoop on others. […]
So this is critical, and not just for “normal people”. Even technically sophisticated people often find it difficult to follow security protocol in their own communications and computing. Things that aren’t usable just don’t get used. Making crypto as easy as your favourite websites and apps is the only way to make privacy a reality for everyone.