‘Mathematics can protect us and we should use strong mathematics to encrypt, to conceal, and to give integrity and confidentiality back to our technological communications. To ensure that we can have dignity in the rest of our lives, and agency as we move through this world.’

The fifth episode of the Our Space video serie discusses the development of digital weapons with Jacob Appelbaum, journalist and researcher: ‘The governments of the world, especially the US government, say that the best way to defend is to be build a massive multi-billion dollar attack programme. They’ve been using this programme to spy on everyone from Chancellor Merkel to regular EU and American citizens, as well as citizen all over the planet.’

‘Instead of actually spending those billions of dollars on building secure systems, they are building arms and leaving systems insecure. And then they are using those digital arms, or D-weapons if you will, to attack systems that they think are of value.’

With these digital weapons, governments have taken aim at the Iranian nuclear programme but also, Appelbaum explains, at the critical infrastcuture of allies: ‘In the name of national security they’ve broken into Belgacom and attacked the core infrastructure of the Belgian telephone system. The reason they did this was because maybe, some day, a terrorist might use it.’

The development of such digital weapons by western governments sets a bad precedent: ‘The thing to understand is that the intelligence communities’ tools of today are the commercial products of tomorrow.’ Not only do we see dictatorships develop their own digital attack programmes, we’re increasingly seeing the trade in offensive software and surveillance tools to repressive regimes.

‘If you sell FinFisher to a country that is a dictatorship, even if it’s lawful, it’s not in line with human rights to sell them those tools. You could argue that it could be used lawfully. But it’s very difficult to argue that, when you sell to Morocco tools for breaking into computers and the documented cases are journalists. It’s very difficult to argue that this is legitimate dual use.’

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Free Press Unlimited
Free Press Unlimited believes that objective information can be of life-and-death importance. Free Press Unlimited helps local journalists in war zones and conflict areas to provide their audience with trustworthy news and information.

Global Conference on Cyberspace
The Global Conference on Cyberspace brings together stakeholders from various backgrounds to discuss challenges in internet governance. Only by working together globally can we guarantee that the internet will remain free, open and secure.

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