The landscape of privacy rights in 2023 has underlined the importance of diligent and proactive advocacy in 2024. The mixed bag of successes and setbacks from the past year highlights the ongoing battle in safeguarding privacy rights worldwide. As we move forward, it's imperative to amplify our efforts in advocating for these rights, especially emphasizing the critical role of end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) technology as a key defense against unauthorized access, surveillance and breaches.
Privacy and Advocacy Highlights in 2023:
- The UK Online Safety Bill was a major threat to end-to-end encryption in the UK. Leading messaging applications, including Signal and WhatsApp, signed an open letter opposing the Bill due to its negative impact on data security, protection and privacy. Persistent advocacy efforts also included a detailed letter from security and privacy researchers in the UK on how undermining E2EE is a threat to everyone’s privacy and leaves room for extensive surveillance of private data.
- Due to relentless advocacy and educational campaigns that raised public awareness about the risks associated with undermining privacy-preserving technologies, the UK Online Safety Bill was unable to pass a ban on E2EE.
- In November, the European Parliament rejected a controversial proposal that would allow for the mass scanning of encrypted messages. This is in large part thanks to efforts like the Stop Scanning Me campaign and the thousands of people across Europe who mobilized to protect their right to privacy.
- In December, after advocacy by privacy-focused organizations like Fight for the Future, who run a highly influential Make DMs Safe campaign, Meta announced that it is rolling out E2EE on Messenger by default.
- A broad coalition of human rights and civil liberties organizations planned actions under the banner of “Bad Internet Bills,” which includes awareness and criticisms of legislation that badly impacts the right to privacy and which call for increased surveillance.
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation, whose Executive Director Cindy Cohn was featured on our site in honor of Human Rights Day, has a call to action to tell U.S Congress not to outlaw encrypted applications.
- In India, the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) escalated its efforts to protect the right to E2EE technologies:
- Recently, there has been a noticeable increase in user awareness and eagerness to ensure their private data remains secure and encrypted. However, without appropriate legislative support, concerns regarding data privacy continue to grow. Despite this, it’s encouraging to see the big wins for privacy in 2023 by major technology companies. Let’s keep pushing!
The journey in protecting and defending our online privacy is far from over, and 2023 has made this abundantly clear. Looking ahead to 2024, there's a pressing need to continue spreading awareness about the importance of E2EE, particularly in messaging apps where our most personal and intimate conversations take place. The challenges and triumphs of the past year have shown that while progress has been made, the fight to protect our private communications is ongoing.
The pushback against legislative efforts like the UK Online Safety Bill, and the successes seen in the European Parliament and with Meta embracing E2EE across more of its apps are testaments to the power of collective advocacy. But these victories are only a part of the larger battle. Every win underscores the necessity to remain vigilant and proactive in our efforts to educate the public and influence policy. This is one of our key commitments at XMTP Labs.
Take Action Today
Here's a guide to some key actions you can take today to support digital rights and privacy:
- Join the Global Encryption Coalition, and explore why we were eager to join.
- Get involved in any of the campaigns by European Digital Rights.
- Visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation action center and consider making a donation.
- Become a member of the Open Rights Group (ORG), which works to protect online privacy, challenge mass surveillance and fight for free expression online.
- Stay alert and use tools and messaging apps that align with your privacy values.
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