Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Teaching privacy to the masses



I'm a privacy advocate. Moreover, I often professionally instruct people on how to protect their privacy both online and off. Unfortunately, it's a pretty fluid thing. What works now might be completely upended by new research or technology and, so, privacy remains a constant battle.  Because it's a battle that involves sometimes complex tools, the average person has, for the most part, given up. They take basic precautions to stop the most obvious intrusions but they stop at the things that require what they perceive to be a lot of work or a high learning curve.

Enter 'cryptoparties'.

Cryptoparties are pretty awesome. The idea is based on the concept of meetups and user groups. A small group of people get together to discuss encryption, privacy, and their related technologies, and to help each other learn how to use the commonly used tools. It's an open-ended environment where everyone's skill level is accepted and newbies and pro's mix together in a relaxed setting that allows information to flow freely.

And, as governments around the world tighten their grip on online communication and ramp up offline citizen survelliance, cryptoparties are exploding. Some parties report 50-75 people routinely attending these meetups and the number seems to be growing as word of them spreads.

This may well be they way to introduce ordinary citizens to cryptography and privacy. It's not intimidating, it's not overwhelming, and it comes in easily digestible chunks that even the most technologically inept person can understand. It's something that's been a long time coming.

If you're interested in seeing if there are any cryptoparties in your area or if you might be interested in starting one, pop on over to www.cryptoparty.org and check it out. It's cheap (free) and very easy to participate in. Best of all, everyone is welcome.

1 comment:

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