Advocates Lobby Congress On Encryption, 'Commercial Surveillance'

Advocacy groups are launching a new campaign that aims to pressure Congress into supporting a broad array of privacy initiatives.

Fight for the Future, the Tor Project (which offers browsers that attempt to preserve users' anonymity) and other organizations are urging their members to sign an open letter that asks lawmakers to take a host of pro-privacy steps.

Among other measures, the groups are calling on elected officials to back “privacy protecting capabilities” such as end-to-end encryption, and to crack down on “commercial surveillance.”

“Encryption and anonymity are essential to protecting privacy here at home, as well as globally,” the open letter states.

The letter adds that governments worldwide, including in the U.S., “have pushed companies not to implement or to break end-to-end encryption.”

In 2019, officials from the White House, the U.K. and Australia specifically asked Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg to backtrack from promises to fully encrypt messages. Instead, the officials urged him to create back doors that would “enable law enforcement to obtain lawful access to content in a readable and usable format.”

The letter also calls for new privacy legislation that would address the use of data for commercial purposes as well as law enforcement.

“For too long, corporations have run roughshod over people’s personal data, subjecting them to surveillance, identity theft, discrimination, and harassment,” the letter states. “We urge you to craft and pass long overdue legislation focused on protecting people’s privacy and cracking down on government and commercial surveillance.”

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