Our Security, Our Rights

Every day it feels like our rights to privacy and security are under attack, and indeed, if you’re keeping up with the news, this is a lot more than just a feeling.

Governments and law enforcement agencies around the world are pushing hard for new powers to keep tabs on their citizens. They argue they require the ability to track your activities and access your private information in order to protect you. And they’re willing to weaken encryption for everyone to do so.

We’ve already seen this happen in the UK with their newly passed laws that grant the government unprecedented surveillance powers, and as James Vincent so eloquently states there, the new laws establish a dangerous new norm where surveillance is seen as the baseline for a peaceful society.

Laws like these in the UK are likely to spread to other countries if citizens don’t take a stand. Indeed these laws could end up appearing tame by future standards if we’re not vigilant.

As tempting as it is to give the government more powers to nab the bad people before crimes have even been committed, history has proven time and again that these broader powers are most often used against law-abiding citizens rather than criminals themselves.

It’s possible laws like these will find their way into Canada as well so I’m asking for your help to send a clear message to our ministers before the ball starts rolling in that direction.

Since September Public Safety Canada has been holding a Consultation on National Security to prompt discussion and debate on future policy changes. Feedback is accepted from all Canadians as well as international readers, so everyone is welcome to contribute.

The set of questions and discussion points is quite broad but the one that’s most important to 1Password users is Investigative Capabilities in a Digital World, particularly this question:

How can law enforcement and national security agencies reduce the effectiveness of encryption for individuals and organizations involved in crime or threats to the security of Canada, yet not limit the beneficial uses of encryption by those not involved in illegal activities?

Or said another way, how can the government institute a backdoor into encryption software that only they can exploit? It sounds simple but in fact it’s simply not possible. As we discussed previously on this blog, back doors are bad for security architecture, and when back doors go bad: mind your Ps and Qs covers an example of a backdoor that went awry along with the math that made it possible.

Please complete the survey and let the Canadian government know you’re not willing to weaken your security or give up your privacy. The opportunity to provide feedback ends on Thursday, December 15th.

I know it’s tempting to give up some freedoms to allow someone else protect you, but whenever I feel that way I remind myself of what Benjamin Franklin would say:

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

Please forgive a Canadian for quoting one of America’s founding fathers, but Ben summed things up so well that I couldn’t resist. ?

Thanks for caring about privacy and security as much as we do ❤️

28 replies
  1. timovibritannia
    timovibritannia says:

    Hi Dave,
    first of thank you for writing this amazing Blog post. I hope that this law will not happen in Canada. But if it would happen what would Agilebits do to respect that law and still protect their customers secrets? I just hope that they will figure out that their idea is nonsense. I think security is essential and should be in the interest of the goverment because when one goverments weekens its security with backdoors how says that another country can’t use that backdoor too ;) And I still hope that Germany won’t get a data preservation because its really useless. And only adds costs that we as tax payer have to pay….

    Have a great day over their,
    Timo

    Reply
    • Dave Teare
      Dave Teare says:

      Thank you, Timo. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. I don’t tend to dabble in opinion pieces very often but this topic was too important for me not to share my personal feelings ?

      As for what AgileBits will do if all governments follow the path of the UK, I’m not going to speculate on that right now. While it’s something I certainly think a lot about, I’m not big on hypothetical conversations, and I pray that cooler heads will prevail so that we never need to cross that bridge.

      The really good news is we have some very big players in the technology space along with many public rights advocates on our side. That doesn’t mean we can leave them to fight it alone, but it’s great to know that a ton of attention will be brought onto this important issue before any laws can be changed.

      ++dave;

    • Dave Teare
      Dave Teare says:

      Hi Tom,

      This is a great question! It’s really hard to speculate and comment on a hypothetical law that doesn’t exist yet, but there’s certainly things we can do to fight if it ever comes down to that. For one thing we could move the company offshore. Obviously it’s way too early to speculate on how effective this would be as we simply don’t know any facts here, and we don’t know if all other governments will have similar laws by the time that happens.

      In my heart of hearts I believe that Canada can continue to be the bastion of hope for privacy and security advocates around the world. I really hope my fellow citizens continue to keep this a priority and make moves to double down on these critical rights that everyone should be allowed to enjoy.

      Hopefully we never need to cross the bridge you describe – it would be a disaster for everyone. We’ve spent over a decade pouring our heart and soul into protecting people and their privacy; it would be devastating to have any government attempt to unravel that.

      ++dave;

  2. James Koole
    James Koole says:

    I took about 10 minutes to offer my comments via the survey.

    The question you highlighted, “How can law enforcement and national security agencies reduce the effectiveness of encryption for individuals and organizations involved in crime or threats to the security of Canada, yet not limit the beneficial uses of encryption by those not involved in illegal activities?” was the easiest to answer: They can’t.

    If that is the kind of question that government and law enforcement are asking with regards to encryption and personal privacy, then we all need to be very, very afraid.

    Candians: take the time to offer your comments and then make sure to take the time to also learn how to use encryption in your own life. If our own Government deems itself to be entitled to our digital lives whenever it suits them, then it only makes sense for us to use technology to protect ourselves from them.

    All people should have the absolute right to keep whatever they wish to keep private from the eyes of government, law enforcement or anyone else.

    Reply
    • Dave Teare
      Dave Teare says:

      Thank you, James. ❤️

      And let’s remember this is not just about Canadians. This is a battle that is taking place in every country, which is why I think this survey is open to everyone worldwide.

      ++dave;

  3. Thomas
    Thomas says:

    Dave!
    I really appreciate your thoughts on these issues and how you are addressing some of the pain points. The survey however cannot be meant to be serious: who and how are the going to interpret the free style answers. I feel this is just an alibi for the government.
    For me as a nonresident alien it would take some time to find the right wording in the answers.

    Good luck for all of us and keep up your vigilance.

    Thomas

    Reply
    • Dave Teare
      Dave Teare says:

      Hi Thomas,

      I see where you’re coming from, but I chose to take a more optimistic approach. My feeling was the ministers probably assumed very few people would care to respond and therefore decided on the free style answer approach. I very much hope that the number of responses is so high that they have to change their question and answer style next time around ?

      Now with that said, two other things crossed my mind as well. First, never underestimate the number of positions a government will invent in the name of “job creation” ? Second, and I really hope this is the case, many governments have found manipulating the phrasing of multiple choice questions a great way to further their agendas. I understand it’s wishful thinking but I’d like to think that they chose free style answers so as to not skew people’s opinions.

      To me this is one of those “if you don’t vote you’re not allowed to complain” type of situations. The Canadian government has asked for feedback and I think we should trust them enough to provide it to them. They are Canadian after all! ? ??

      ++dave;

  4. Thomas
    Thomas says:

    Dave!
    I did answer your post 15 minutes ago. My post showed for 5 minutes and then disappeared. Did you or the government delete it?

    Thomas

    Reply
    • Dave Teare
      Dave Teare says:

      Hi Thomas! Sorry for the confusion – I needed to approve your comment before it would appear. There’s no government interference here ?

      I’ll reply to your comment above now…

      ++dave;

    • Dave Teare
      Dave Teare says:

      Doh! I had two proofreaders review this and neither of them found that one! Of course I’m not the one to blame, right? I simply wrote it ?

      Thanks for letting me know, Fred. It’s been fixed ?

      ++dave;

  5. Mathieu
    Mathieu says:

    Thanks Dave for your wonderful software. But, I’m french and I dont understand all your texte. I would just say, thanks for your blog and I hope, you guys, will work hard if Canada law pass because, I need this software ! Have a great christmas time whit your team and sorry for my mystakes. Math

    Reply
    • Dave Teare
      Dave Teare says:

      Hi Mathieu!

      There’s no need to worry about your English – I understood you perfectly fine! ?

      Thank you so much for the kind words and well wishes. As for new laws, we’re no where near that stage just yet; the government is simply soliciting public feedback at this point. The Canadian public has defeated poorly thought out privacy laws in the past and I’m sure we will do so again if it ever comes to that. It’s one of the reasons I love my fellow Canucks so much ❤️ ??

      Take care,

      ++dave;

  6. eak
    eak says:

    Thank you for the lead in your sentence “They argue they require the ability to track your activities and access your private information in order to protect you” since their excuse has no foundation in reality. The ones our governments actually fear are their citizens. Police in the U.S. kill far more U.S. citizens than terrorists do, over a 1000 per year (I don’t know the Canadian statistics). As H.L. Mencken said, “Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazies; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” The whole terrorist threat is just another hobgoblin so they can direct their power against their own citizens.

    As an aside, it takes it to a Canadian to actually quote Franklin correctly! Many in the US mangle the quote. In case anyone is curious, the context is non-obvious, it being 1755 and about the frontiers.

    “In fine, we have the most sensible Concern for the poor distressed Inhabitants of the Frontiers. We have taken every Step in our Power, consistent with the just Rights of the Freemen of Pennsylvania, for their Relief, and we have Reason to believe, that in the Midst of their Distresses they themselves do not wish us to go farther. Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Such as were inclined to defend themselves, but unable to purchase Arms and Ammunition, have, as we are informed, been supplied with both, as far as Arms could be procured, out of Monies given by the last Assembly for the King’s Use; and the large Supply of Money offered by this Bill, might enable the Governor to do every Thing else that should be judged necessary for their farther Security, if he shall think fit to accept it. Whether he could, as he supposes, “if his Hands had been properly strengthened, have put the Province into such a Posture of Defence, as might have prevented the present Mischiefs,” seems to us uncertain; since late Experience in our neighbouring Colony of Virginia (which had every Advantage for that Purpose that could be desired) shows clearly, that it is next to impossible to guard effectually an extended Frontier, settled by scattered single Families at two or three Miles Distance, so as to secure them from the insiduous Attacks of small Parties of skulking Murderers: But thus much is certain, that by refusing our Bills from Time to Time, by which great Sums were seasonably offered, he has rejected all the Strength that Money could afford him; and if his Hands are still weak or unable, he ought only to blame himself, or those who have tied them.”

    Reply
    • Dave Teare
      Dave Teare says:

      I was hoping someone would notice! ? I had planned to use the modern interpretation of Franklin’s quote but elected against it. I felt the original was a better match for what I was trying to convey, even if it is more about taxes than anything else ?

      ++dave;

  7. brenty
    brenty says:

    Thanks for bringing my attention to this, Dave! I’ve been following this debate, but didn’t know there was a survey like this available. I was a bit dismayed by the confusing phrasing of several of the questions, as I think it may discourage many people from responding. Nevertheless, I’m glad there’s a dialogue here. That’s really the only way forward with important, contentious issues like this.

    Reply
    • Dave Teare
      Dave Teare says:

      There’s certainly a lot there to digest, isn’t there? There’s also entire documents to help set the stage for the questions, so much in fact it’s easy to get started and never finished. I gotta admit part of me felt like they were trying to bury the public with information in hopes people would not notice the tough questions asked near the end. Of course that’s why I thought it important to draw attention to that one particular survey question so people could jump straight there. ?

      ++dave;

  8. bjorn
    bjorn says:

    Thank you for your effort to keep us safe. The problem is that very few people are aware of the danger our government is trying to “protect” us, but instead harming the innocent.
    On the other hand the innocent have not to be ignorant, because you must protect your privacy. It is good to have some secrets. It is part of being human…

    Ignorance is no excuse

    Reply
    • Dave Teare
      Dave Teare says:

      Thanks Bjorn, it’s great to know you share our beliefs that privacy must be protected. It’s impossible to have security without privacy, and vice versa.

      ++dave;

  9. Kamila
    Kamila says:

    First of all who is government? A bunch of people working hard for themselves and playing hard for the rest of us. No one should have the power to control others!

    Reply
    • Dave Teare
      Dave Teare says:

      Ideally? Something along the lines of Government of the people, by the people, for the people comes to mind. ? Now I just need to find the Canadian version of that! ??

      ++dave;

  10. Scribblenik
    Scribblenik says:

    Thanks for sharing this. Orwell wrote 1984 as a warning, NOT a manifesto. I’ve just filled in the questionnaire – if you hadn’t posted this article, I wouldn’t have known about it (I Canadian too, so I feel strongly that we don’t enter the paranoid world that the UK has just signed up to).

    Reply
    • Dave Teare
      Dave Teare says:

      It’s been feeling a lot like a manifesto lately, hasn’t it?! ?

      Thanks for filling our the questionnaire! I’m glad I was able to help you find it – I missed it the first few months as well ?

      ++dave;

  11. andrewparkeruk
    andrewparkeruk says:

    I have Apple Store versions for iOS and macOS. I am concerned by the new subscription model: I have an allergic response to subscription services.
    Will 1Password and I have a shared future?

    Reply
    • Dave Teare
      Dave Teare says:

      That’s quite the allergy you have there, Andrew! Have you gotten it looked at and seeked expert advice? You don’t want to find yourself in anaphylactic shock ?

      Seriously though, you’re fine just the way you are and can continue using your licensed versions of 1Password. We wanted to greatly simplify the setup process for new users but it’s still possible to buy licenses and sync things yourself.

      Take care,

      ++dave;

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