The CryptoRights Foundation (CRF) was the first nonprofit to establish the interdependency of human rights and cryptology (or cryptography), a special branch of mathematics involving one-way functions. Cryptography is the only method for keeping a legitimate secret in the digital realm by enabling digital ‘locks’ and ‘keys‘. In the modern era, with the advent of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), it is crucial that math, and in particular cryptology, remain totally in the Public realm.
The “legitimate secrets” that cryptography’s digital locks and keys protect include: Your private thoughts/journals; Anything you say to someone with the expectation of privacy; A secret ballot in any democratic electoral process; The identities of journalistics sources; The development of artistic expression (e.g. literature); Witness statements establishing a crime against humanity; Whistleblower testimony/identity and; Evidence in a war crime investigation.
CRF’s origins in the late 1990s included ‘muddy boots’ communication security for human rights fieldworkers and war crimes investigators in war zones. But, the name ‘CryptoRights‘ is ‘bidirectional’: it literally brings the worlds of ‘crypto‘ and ‘rights‘ together to help each other. Therefore, another major focus is on protecting academic activity to evaluate, audit and/or discredit misinformational claims made to the Public by commercial vendors (driven by profit and not facts) and government agencies claiming making false security claims (e.g. the no-/low-value ‘security theater’ in modern airline travel).
In contrast to the protection of legitimate secrets, CRF has always taken a position against any kind of proprietary technology being used in consumer products — those commercial devices that touch the privacy/data of Citizens (e.g. home ‘security’ cameras, ‘secure’ garage entry devices, easily picked locks, weak medical information protection, etc). When the purpose of a mechanism is to enhance protection of human and/or civil rights, keeping that mechanism’s operations secret is amoral. Unless everyone using a technology can review exactly how it works and verify that it is being employed correctly, that technology cannot in good conscience be included in democratic activities such as elections. Consider the example of a proprietary voting system: a malicious (or even just sloppy) Vendor could subvert the results of an election and the Public would be unable to know the true outcome because the Vendor insists that it’s “trade secrets” must be protected (favoring profit over Public interest). CRF does not object to proprietary noisemakers in childrens’ toys or secret methods for trash compaction, but — when it comes to personal privacy, the security of legal evidence of criminal activity such as whistleblower testimony or voting and counting ballots accurately — there can be no legitimacy to secrets kept for private profits to the detriment of Public safety, security and governance.
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