Latest posts by Alvin Bryan (see all)
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SpiderOak founder and CEO Ethan Oberman says that the privacy of Internet users is a right. Many online companies see user data privacy as a privilege. This is why it is important for users to have private services like SpiderOak that take user privacy rights seriously. Since the NSA spying revelations, SpiderOak’s user base has doubled.
SpiderOak Respects Privacy Rights
Edward Snowden has endorsed SpiderOak as a privacy rights oriented service. A big part of this is the company’s zero knowledge policy. Snowden has talked about zero knowledge policies, which SpiderOak has been practicing for seven years. Zero knowledge guarantees that the company that stores user data does not know what data is being stored. The servers do not store the data in plain text. Data is encrypted before it is even sent to the company server. The company does not have the decryption codes or keys used to encrypt the data. Only the user has the key to his or her data. The company therefore cannot access user data. This is what real privacy rights means.
Oberman warns, however, that the authorities will always try to use their powers to get at user data. This is why it is vital that all online data storage services adopt the zero knowledge policy. And this is how users will know what services respect their privacy rights. Oberman says that we need more privacy services and that they have to be practical for all user types. He says that the challenge now is to have systems that respect privacy rights without users having to be overly aware that they are private. This means that data privacy should be so common that it is standard and guaranteed. Users should be able to take for granted that their privacy rights are protected.
Money Versus Privacy Rights
Oberman says that the core difference between companies that do and don’t respect privacy rights is purpose. All businesses need to make money to continue providing services. But is the business focused on profit or service? Trust is very important, he says. People can see what businesses they can trust by looking at two things. The first is a zero knowledge policy. This says that the company does not want to access user data. So they cannot make extra profit by selling it to marketers for advertising. The second is using open source. Open source code is open to the security community so it can be checked. It can also be copied and used by developers to create other programs. Most users wouldn’t know what to make of a security report, but it builds trust that the company is open to having its code checked.
Justice Versus Privacy Rights
SpiderOak gets a lot of questions about data privacy and criminality. Some believe that affording privacy rights to people engaged in criminal activities helps keep them safe. Oberman says that this is a tricky issue. But he affirms that privacy remains a right that should not be violated. This stand is probably at the core of SpiderOak’s recent growth spurt. Criminals should be brought to justice, but unlawful surveillance is not the answer. Surveillance powers have been abused so much in the past. People no longer trust the government where their data is concerned. This has pushed the development and use of spy-proof private services. If this gives criminals a place to hide, it is too bad. But the innocent deserve privacy rights protection from this illicit data snooping nonetheless.