“What Bitcoin Did” host Peter McCormack on encryption and government surveillanceFeb 7, 2022
"Encryption is a problem for states who want to run surveillance programs," said Peter McCormack, host of the "What Bitcoin Did" podcast. He was speaking to Orchid's Derek Silva on this week's episode of the Priv8 podcast about the importance of encryption, the threat of government surveillance, and the necessity of privacy in democratic systems.
"Across the globe, various states are increasingly interested in surveilling their populations," Peter said. "They want to know what people are doing, what they are saying, what they spend their money on, and more.
"That is an invasion of privacy—and privacy is the basis of democracy.
"True democracy requires that people have the right to privacy: they must have the ability to privately hold views and privately discuss ideas. If the government wants to know all your ideas—what you're thinking, what you're saying, and what you're spending your money on—democracy can't happen.
"Encryption is a way around this kind of corruption. It's a way to protect yourself. And today, we have easy access to encrypted tech: for example, we have encrypted messaging apps, and we have encrypted money in the form of cryptocurrencies. That's great for us—but it's a problem for the state."
Peter pointed out that governments have frequently used public safety concerns as a way to legislate against encryption.
"Governments oppose encryption for the sake of providing 'safety.' They want to keep us safe, they say—but the truth is that they want to have the ability to monitor us. Banning individual use of encryption technology would make that possible.
"Everyone deserves privacy. That's why I salute encryption tools, even if it does mean that they could be used by nefarious actors in some cases—but depending on who you ask, the state itself is a nefarious actor. For instance, my country (the UK)—along with the United States and a coalition of other countries—illegally invaded Iraq, which led to the deaths of 1.5 million people.
"So I think encryption is something we all deserve, because we deserve privacy."