We live in an age where international government coalitions conspire to spy on their own citizens. While this may sound like the tagline of a James Bond movie, this is our reality. Yesterday, the New York Times reported that the National Security Agency of the United States, in cooperation with the Government Communications Headquarters of Britain, has succeeded in cracking the encryption that secures our everyday communications, using powerful supercomputers and complex algorithms. Our bank statements, medical records, Google searches, emails, and more are all at risk. It is impossible to presume that this power will not be abused. Yesterday, this information came to light. Today we act.
While the government may argue that they are using the information 'for a good cause', there is evidence that government employees have used their power for 'less than the common good'. Can you trust the more than 850,000 people across the United States with clearance to top secret documents? Leaked internal NSA documents recorded "2,776 incidents in the preceding 12 months of unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications." That's more than 7 times per day for an entire year. While most of these incidents were unintentional, an unknown number were willful violations, generally against love interests. To quote Franklin D. Roosevelt, "With great power, comes great responsibility."
The reason we encrypt our communications is to keep them private, between the sender and the recipient only. If we wanted the government to see our emails, we would have included their address. The internet was founded on trust, and this is particularly important to commercial interests. How can one purchase a product, which involves entering sensitive personal details, if the government is watching over their shoulder? How can a CEO communicate with his business partners if his competitors can spy on their emails? The United States Government is spending more than 250 million dollars each year on its conquest to crack the codes of the internet. Increasingly powerful supercomputers and the advent of quantum computing are threatening to compromise our security. With the power to crack encryption, these scenarios become real and undermine the trust that we have all placed in the internet.
We need to protect our civil liberties. The right to privacy is guaranteed to all Americans in the Fourth Amendment. When you sign this petition, you are asking prominent tech companies, banks, online payment websites such as Bitcoin and Paypal, and email providers to increase the industry standard of encryption to a 4096-bit asymmetrical key system, which should be able to withstand attacks for decades. In addition, you ask of these companies that the codes are changed every 5 years.
In an asymmetrical encryption system, the party you are sending your information to distributes the encryption key to everyone. This is publicly available information that anyone can see. Once the information is encrypted, it is sent to the party, where it is decrypted using a special decryption key. Only the receiving party has the decryption key, and therefore only they can decrypt your information. A 4096-bit encryption key has 4096 bits. A higher number of bits equates to a larger number of possible 'combinations', and thus a more secure message. A 4096-bit encryption has 2^4096 possible 'combinations', and is practically impenetrable. That number in standard form is more than 1,000 digits in length. To learn more about encryption, an educational YouTube video explaining the subject is included below. So why not make an encryption system that is a million bits in length? As the length of the key increases, it also takes longer to decrypt the message. A message encrypted with a 2046-bit key currently takes about 0.2 seconds to decrypt, assuming you have the decryption key. In comparison, 4096-bit key takes approximately 1.0 seconds to decrypt. Is it too much to ask that you wait 0.8 more seconds to ensure your credit card information is safe?
Protect your privacy and security. Ask prominent tech companies, banks, online payment websites and email providers to provide us with 4096-bit encryption for our most important communications. No one should be able to spy on your communications. No one.