Thursday, October 04, 2018

EFF, Wired recommend everyone use highly secure messenger apps to deflect spotlight from real activists -- "community hygiene"



Here’s a particularly provocative idea.  Electronic Frontier Foundation today, in a piece by Gennie Gebhart, urges everyone to communicate only with highly secure message apps (with full security, including instant deletion from the Cloud) like WhatsApp and particularly Signal.  In fact, Wired had articulated a similar idea in Nov. 2017 in a piece by Jordan McMahon, recommending only Signal, because WhatsApp owner Facebook has too much invested in collecting user data in its business model (how true that turned out to be early in 2018 with Cambridge, etc). EFF used the idea of “team player”.

There is also the controversy over Telegram.

  
This is indeed a community hygiene (or "nerd herd immunity") argument that reminds me of the vaccine debate. EFF particularly points out that when “average” users don’t use highly specialized apps for better security in ordinary communications, the activists stand out and are more vulnerable to intrusive government. 

This may well be more true overseas in places like Turkey, Egypt, Singapore, less democratic countries. (China doesn't count.) 

The trouble is you can extend this argument.  Should all users prefer Snapchat to Facebook and delete their posts to cover the activists?

Are the rest of us endangering activists by using gmail, Facebook and Twitter messenger?  (By the way, a lot of high-profile Twitter users don’t enable messenger.)

What about bloggers (like me) who film and write but don’t shout, carry picket signs, or offer to get arrested?  This still sounds more like an old fashioned solidarity argument (vs. “lowballing”).
   
Why not say that everyone should use TOR, then? 

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