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Data Privacy Day: Why privacy matters and why it is time to fight for it.

Data Privacy Day was initiated 12 years ago in Europe. Let’s take a look at why protecting our Right to Privacy is now more important than ever.

Around the world, tendencies to undermine the freedoms and values that we enjoy in democratic societies are growing. Mass surveillance increasingly threatens the foundation of democracy: freedom of speech and the right to privacy. Fortunately, more and more people stand up for their rights and start to fight back. Let’s take a deep dive into why privacy matters and how you can protect yours easily.

Privacy is under attack around the world

Trump, Orbán, Erdogan – They are just a few of the emerging demagogic political class who symbolize a severe threat to freedom and democracy. Political parties pretend to demonstrate strength by undermining democratic values and freedoms. Even worse: Democratically elected politicians are among the loudest voices against freedom of speech and the right to privacy.

This trend is already being mirrored in changing legislation: The worst surveillance laws have been passed in recent history. Two dreadful examples are Australia’s anti-encryption bill and the UK’s Snooper’s Charta.

Resistance rises: We’re taking back our freedom!

However, there’s also light at the end of the tunnel: The more demagogues try to destroy our freedoms, the more the resistance grows. Since its introduction in 2016, the UK Snooper’s Charta has been declared unlawful after being challenged by Amnesty International.

Human Rights Watch has just published the report: World’s Autocrats Face Rising Resistance. It shows that people around the world increasingly stand up for their Human Rights.

We at Tutanota are very glad that so many people around the world are fighting back. In fact, we are developing Tutanota to protect our right to privacy, to protect freedom of speech, and, ultimately, to protect democracy itself.

It is our mission to enable everyone to communicate securely and privately online. That’s why we are building the open source email client Tutanota with built-in encryption. Communicating in private is a basic necessity for any political resistance. It gives people the freedom to express every thought and idea without the fear of being prosecuted for it.

Why privacy matters

Activists, dissidents, and journalists already know why privacy matters: They need to protect themselves, whistleblowers and other contacts from being spied on. That’s an unquestionable fact.

"As journalists we have seen how the authorities all over the world have taken both official and unoffical steps to reveal a source of an important story. If we want to truly defend freedom of the press and our right to keep a source secret, we need to protect our communication. And for this secure email such as Tutanota is one crucial tool," says Rasmus Mark Pedersen, board member of the union of Danish journalists.

The general public, however, still believes that they have nothing to hide because, let’s face it: They have nothing to hide. Yet, this belief is the cardinal error. You’ll never know whether today’s opinions or attitudes are still acceptable in ten years’ time.

History teaches us that we must never believe that we have nothing to hide. To the contrary, protecting our privacy should become standard practice for everyone, not just to protect oneself, but also to protect our free and open societies.

The Internet is a surveillance machine

As much as the Internet has advanced our societies, it has also become a threat to our freedom. Surveillance online has become so much easier than what the Stasi and the Gestapo had to do to spy on German citizens a couple of decades ago.

With the help of the Internet, mass surveillance today is cheap and fast. The only privacy-preserving technology we have to stop this surveillance machine is encryption: “Every time you use encryption, you're protecting someone who needs to use it to stay alive”, says Bruce Schneier.

The reasoning behind this is simple: The more people encrypt their online communication, the harder it gets to spy on all citizens or to filter out potential targets who are the only ones using encryption.

Today it is easy to make a change.

As the Internet grows up, people understand that they have to stop feeding the surveillance machine. New tools have made encryption and, thus, protecting your private data very easy. Email services like Tutanota, chat apps like Signal, cloud services like Tresorit are just a few that integrate encryption seamlessly into their services so that users don’t have to think about how the encryption works.

Protecting ones privacy online is still a challenge. But step by step we can all take back our right to privacy and change the Internet for the better.

Our guide on how to leave Google behind will help you to find alternatives that protect your right to privacy.