Announcing: Crypto-party

Posted: October 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

Last term Oxford Student PEN hosted a discussion on Privacy and Surveillance. We addressed such questions as whether we have a right to privacy, to what extent the state should be allowed to interfere with that right, and how the internet has recast the terms of the debate.

The event was organised in response to revelations about the NSA’s and GCHQ’s mass surveillance programs, and much of our focus was on how to monitor and regulate their powers. But as well as such top-down considerations we were also told that we as individuals can do much more to protect ourselves.

I think it was Kenneth Page of Privacy International who said the following: “We take a lot of care to safeguard our e-mail accounts with passwords but once we’ve clicked ‘send’ we don’t tend to think about security any more. In fact, as our e-mails travel through cyberspace they can in theory be read by anybody who knows how. Reading e-mails as they travel between our secure accounts is as easy as standing by the side of the motorway and reading the number plates of the cars that go past.”

That came as a surprise.

So we did some thinking and the result is that this term we will be holding a crypto-party. The premise is simple: Come along with a laptop and learn to encode your e-mails over a drink.

Watch this space.


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