UN stands up to promote encryption in new report

Posted by Soledad Vega on Fri, 06/19/2015 - 16:37

An important contribution to the security conversation at a decisive time. 

Article by Geoffrey King for CPJ

On Wednesday, Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye will present his report on international legal protection for encryption and anonymity to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The report is an important contribution to the security conversation at a time when some Western leaders are calling for ill-informed and impossible loopholes in technology--a trend that facilitates surveillance and tends to enable states that openly seek to repress journalists.

Ethiopia, which aggressively prosecuted a group known as the "Zone 9" bloggers for participating in email encryption training, is one such state. Authorities there jail more journalists than any other country in Africa, other than Eritrea, and it is the fourth most censored country in the world, according to CPJ research. The Ethiopian government is suspected of conducting widespread surveillance inside the county and of hacking the computers of journalists living overseas.

"In a country like Ethiopia where journalists are consistently watched, [we] need to protect their communications and their data to do reports on sensitive issues," Endalkachew H/Michael, one of the co-founders of Zone 9, told CPJ by email. "If a journalist cannot protect her communication with her sources, she cannot practice journalism."

Michael, who left Ethiopia to study for his doctorate in media studies at the University of Oregon, added: "I believe encryption is a lifeblood for freedom of expression." 

- Read more at CPJ