Following Donald Trump’s victory in the latest US presidential election, many people begun to worry about the surveillance capabilities that will now effectively be left in his hands once he assumes the position.
Some have called on tech companies to make it impossible to provide information about users that might be the next targets of the nation’s intelligence agencies, and on users to preventatively protect themselves by encrypting their phone and computer, switching to end-to-end encrypted secure messaging, and so on.
For some, that advice was not needed. As ProtonMail co-founder and CEO Andy Yen revealed on Friday, since Trump’s victory, the number of new users opening ProtonMail accounts has doubled compared to the week before:
In the blog post accompanying the release of these statistics, Yen explained why it’s reasonable to expect that due to Republican control over the Senate, President Trump will have broad powers to re-shape the US surveillance apparatus to serve his agenda.
“Given Trump’s campaign rhetoric against journalists, political enemies, immigrants, and Muslims, there is concern that Trump could use the new tools at his disposal to target certain groups. As the NSA currently operates completely out of the public eye with very little legal oversight, all of this could be done in secret,” he noted.
“Today, we are seeing an influx of liberal users, but ProtonMail has also long been popular with the political right, who were truly worried about big government spying, and the Obama administration having access to their communications. Now the tables have turned.”
The issue of privacy should, therefore, be championed by everyone, no matter their political leanings. But while we wait and hope for politicians to realize that privacy is essential for democracy, the role of technology is critical when it comes to protecting it.
“The only way to protect our freedom is to build technologies, such as end-to-end encryption, which cannot be abused for mass surveillance. Governments can change, but the laws of mathematics upon which encryption is based, are much harder to change,” he concluded.