The 2016 US Presidential election has caused quite a stir over the past week, but there are some positive notes to take into account as well. More and more users are flocking to using encryption applications ever since the results were published. Notably Signal, a popular encryption desktop app, has seen a 400% user base increase. This is quite a surprising development, but what is driving the growth all of a sudden?
Consumers Suddenly Value Encryption After Trump Win
For some reason, it appears as if the Donald Trump election win has caused the average technology user to suddenly wake up. Even though there have always been concerns over improving consumer security, very few people were willing to actively enable encryption. That situation, however, is changing in a drastic fashion.
Signal, one of the favorite Windows desktop encryption apps, has noticed a 400% growth increase since Trump became president-elect. This correlation is not a coincidence by any means, as the app offer users complete end-to-end encryption. Not even the government or a new President can obtain the data itself, according to parent company, Open Whisper Systems.
Open Whisper Systems Co-founder Moxie Marlinspike told the media:
“Donald Trump is about to be in control of the least accountable surveillance apparatus in the history of the world. That’s something that’s been expanding under Obama, and I think people were comfortable with that in the sense that they trusted his personal judgment. I think people are less comfortable with how Donald Trump is going to use that.”
Do not be mistaken in thinking that Signal has evaded the attention of law enforcement agencies, though. Similarly to other platforms providing end-to-end encryption, Signal is criticized for preventing law enforcement agents from seeing conversations between potential suspects. Then again, this is not the fault of companies offering such a service, but rather an issue that law enforcement officials have as they are outpaced by the bad guys.
Making encryption tools accessible to the everyday consumer is direly needed. Most people care somewhat about their privacy but are not willing to take the necessary steps to protect data. Signal, WhatsApp, and other end-to-end encryption apps provide people with the tools they need to keep prying eyes out.
It is possible that governments will go ahead with their plans to block encryption tools in the future. Brazil has previously attempted such a task, albeit they were ultimately unsuccessful in their attempts. Encryption tools are direly needed, and their legitimate use cases far outweigh the downsides. Governments need to educate themselves about technology rather than oppose it.
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