Data surveillance versus privacy: finding a balance

With the ISIS attack in Paris still fresh in everyone’s minds, many concerns are being raised about data surveillance laws. Even though there has not been any evidence that the terrorist attacks involved the use of encrypted data, some supporters of expanding data surveillance are citing the attacks as proof that wider-ranging laws are needed. This is nothing new; the ongoing battle between privacy proponents and lawmakers supporting more surveillance is thrust into the spotlight increasingly often. Disagreements over data encryption will likely only increase, with 75% of internet interactions expected to be encrypted in the next ten to fifteen years. And while supporters of internet and data privacy have no problem with this rise in data encryption, it will cause technical problems for government agencies and law officials who need to access information to bring criminals and terrorists to justice.

A compromise has been suggested: some officials have proposed instituting laws that require tech companies to develop methods for police to obtain access to encrypted information, although this may not even be possible. Some companies such as Apple and Google cannot even access data encrypted in their own devices and services. Even if it is possible, the White House has agreed to not move forward with any legislation that would require companies to make encrypted data available whenever the police needed.

Finding a balance between protecting users’ privacy online and surveillance in the name of preserving law and order is an ongoing process and should not be determined quickly in the wake of a crisis. While there should be legal limits on the seizure of encrypted data, there must also be limits on how and what is encrypted. Determining these limits will take time.

Article via The Washington PostNovember 18, 2015

Photo: Point Cloud Data via Daniel V [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Nigeria and Online Dispute Resolution

One of the earliest letters I received from Nigeria (before the Internet – postage/envelope/letter inside/a “real” signature) invited me to help out an individual there who was a relative of a prince and had a very substantial bank account in New York, but they could not access the funds there (millions of dollars) without my help. Hmmm….

Nigeria has had a reputation for scammers for a long time. The Internet gave these scammers new fuel and new ways to catch people in their lair. These scammers are sophisticated and the reason they don’t give up is because it works. Nevertheless, the reputation that has befallen Nigeria is not one that should be allowed to perpetuate. I remember the first time I met my good friend from Lagos, attorney Ayo Kusamotu, on a phone call and we talked about a legal problem regarding trademarks and online dispute resolution for a long time. He suddenly interrupted me to say “thank you.” I asked him “for what?” And he said “for not bringing up the Nigerian scammers.”

It never occurred to me to bring up scamming – it is everywhere and it shouldn’t be attributed to one country or another. Ijeoma Ononogbu, another Nigerian colleague of mine, began her recent presentation on the state of justice in the African Union during Cyberweek, and she pointed out that Nigeria has adopted a broad based cybersecurity initiative designed to increase trust for online commerce; an absolute prerequisite for its growth. And last week, yet another colleague from Lagos, Morenike Obi-Farinde LL.M, FCIArb (UK), (founder of www.e-consumersolve.com), organized a first ever training program between InternetBar.org Institute and the Nigerian Bar Association on the use of practical technology techniques for online dispute resolution. Led by IBO board member Dan Rainey, there were 41 attendees.

Scamming may be endemic to the Internet – but building the foundation of trust to overcome it is in the genes of my Nigerian attorney friends. Transformation is in their hands, and they are doing great works.

To read more about Jeff Aresty, click here.