Om Eva Galperin

''EFF's surveillance self-defense project''

Eva Galperin, Global Policy Analyst, Electronic Frontier Foundation (ENG). Eva misspent her youth working as a Systems Administrator all over Silicon Valley. Since then, she has seen the error of her ways and earned degrees in Political Science and International Relations from SFSU.

Interview with Eva:

Tell us about Electronic Frontier Foundation and what you do as an organization?
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a digital civil liberties organization based in San Francisco, California. Our mission is to make sure that when you go online, your rights come with you.

What are your three most important issues right now?
- It's really to narrow things down to just three issues. EFF works on a variety issues that we feel directly impact freedom on the Internet. Broadly speaking, you can divide it up into free speech, privacy, and intellectual property issues. I am especially concerned with prevasive government spying, but I'm also very concerned about the ways in which
social media platforms censor content in highly opaque and unaccountable ways, and the ways in which the content industry is trying to rewrite copyright law in their favor through multi-lateral treaties such as the Trans Pacific Partnership.

With your combination of political science and technical background, when, and how, did you become interested in particular online rights and mass surveillance?
- As an immigrant from the Soviet Union, I grew up with a healthy distrust of authority and a very strong attachment to personal privacy.

Are there any a conflicts in working for both cyber security and personal privacy? Like the right to be anonymous, which can be used in both bad and good ways…
- It would be much easier to secure systems if only administrators had total control over the networks and no one was anonymous. Fortunately, many governments and the UN have decided that the right to speak anonymously is an essential component of speaking truth to power, and protecting anonymity is more important than the possibility of making security a little easier.

Do most of us ordinary people on the web know enough about how much others know about us? Should we be more worried?
- I think that most people are a lot smarter than they are given credit for. Teenagers, for example, frequently make extremely nuanced decisions that what kind of information about themselves they share with their family, or their teachers, or future potential employers, as opposed to their friends. I don't think they spend a lot of time thinking of government surveillance, but they understand that you show different aspects of yourself to different people online, and you can control that with technology.

Does it really matter with mass surveillance, if I do not do anything illegal?
- Everyone has something to hide, even if it is not necessarily illegal. You lock your doors. Your wear clothes. You don't share your email password with strangers. Even if you do feel that you have nothing to hide, that is not necessarily true of everyone with whom you communicate. You should protect your communications out of consideration for them. And even if everyone that you know has nothing to hide (which is highly unlikely), then engaging in encrypted communications makes encryption more normal, and provides cover for the communications of the journalists and activists who really do need protection from government spying.

How does your future ideal cyber world look like?
- I would like to see a future Internet without borders—without government censorship or DRM (digital rights management), where users have strong control over their personal data, and secure, encrypted communications are the norm.

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