Internet Governance

The Roadmap to Internet Privacy

At ServInt we care about consumer privacy. We bake it into what we do as a company from the ground up. Our infrastructure, our hiring practices and our processes are all built with privacy in mind. But we aren’t satisfied with what we can do within our global network – we are fighting to change the future, and we’re working on an action plan that will get it done.

Earlier this week I spoke on a panel at SXSWi called “Government Surveillance: How You Can Change It.” I had two goals for the talk:

  1. Raise awareness of the upcoming review of Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act on June 1st of this year.
  2. Get people to stop thinking there’s nothing that can be done to change surveillance in the United States. There is – we can do it but we need to think of things the right way!

So what’s the deal with Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act?

This is one of the laws being used to justify the bulk collection of data by the NSA with programs like PRISM. It needs to be heavily modified or it needs to ‘sunset’. It’s an affront to civil liberties, but far beyond that it’s causing real harm to Internet innovation as the United States loses its global competitive edge in the cloud. It needs to get reformed because it’s hurting the Internet and the United States economy.

But will anything change if we fight to reform or kill Section 215?

Many things will change, but not everything will change. This is a long fight we have ahead of us for surveillance reform, but this is a very important first step. It will build the foundation for future reform.

A Roadmap to Reform

I come from a development background. We need to start thinking of surveillance reform like we would a software roadmap. To get to a fully featured product we need to start with a Minimum Viable Product, or MVP.

Section 215 reform is our MVP.

Then we keep working on it, and iteratively get the reforms we need through:

  • USA Freedom Act
  • LEADS Act
  • Electronic Communications Privacy Act reform
  • FISA Amendments Act reform
  • and more

Along the way we will need a bill specifically on transparency. We will need a bill on information sharing between agencies. We may need legislative action to protect the right to encryption, and to fight against government backdoors to encryption. These can all be built into the developmental roadmap. This is a 6 to 10 year fight to earn the reforms we need – but we do it by sticking to the roadmap.

You can’t build the product you want without putting in the work on building the first steps. The same is true with reforming surveillance.

The first step to reforming privacy in America is to get USA PATRIOT Act Section 215 to be amended or ended. It’s our Minimum Viable Product. We at ServInt will be fighting for it and you should too.

You’ll hear more from me in the coming weeks, months and years about our Roadmap to Internet Privacy. I’ll walk you through future stages. For now, go educate yourself on Section 215. We’ve got less than three months to come together and force the U.S. government to change it, and to set the stage for the next fight and then the next fight. 20 years in, ServInt understands playing the long game, and we’re ready to fight on our customers’ behalf.

Photo by K.G.Hawes

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  • The New York Times
  • The Hill
  • Bloomberg
  • The Seattle Times
  • Computer World
  • Ars Technica
  • MSNBC