On January 29, global tech company Morning Consult published an op-ed by Carlos Gutierrez, LGBT Tech's Deputy Director and General Counsel. In light of recent attempts by the United States, United Kingdom, and Australian governments to open end-to-end encrypted networks, Mr. Gutierrez emphasizes encryption's importance to marginalized communities.
"While the protection of public safety is a legitimate government aim, and a priority that we share, it is misleading to frame the issue as a binary choice between privacy and security," Mr. Gutierrez writes. "LGBT Tech and other technology and civil rights organizations maintain that delaying strong, end-to-end security measures will only put more consumers at risk of having their sensitive and personal data breached, mishandled or exploited."
Such data breaches could be especially harmful for LGBTQ+ communities, who statistically access the internet more than the general population. "That is why encryption is such an important tool," according to Mr. Gutierrez: "it protects our community and allows vulnerable populations to more openly and freely share their personal stories and struggles online, as well as to access information on health and other critically important and sensitive topics securely."
Threats to end-to-end encryption, however, comprise just one of the technological threats marginalized communities face. Another issue Mr. Gutierrez discusses is law enforcement and other government agencies' use of facial recognition technology to target already vulnerable populations. "To be sure, facial recognition represents a major technological breakthrough with potential applications that can improve safety and quality of life. However, it remains a largely untested and unregulated technology." For people of color, transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people - populations most misidentified by facial recognition and vulnerable to law enforcement - this new technology can prove more of a liability than an asset.
LGBT Tech has long advocated for tech policies that protect LGBTQ+ and other marginalized communities, from denouncing "backdoors" in encryption networks to examining the potential shortcomings of facial recognition software for LGBTQ+ populations. As Mr. Gutierrez's op-ed makes clear, LGBT Tech will continue to advocate for the privacy and security of vulnerable populations while urging Congress and others to do the same.
The op-ed is available at Morning Consult.