Not twenty four hours ago did I write about how the Pentagon is going to announce how cyber-attacks could be casus belli. Now the Wall Street Journal reports that an Egyptian intelligence agency was monitoring Skype communications of dissidents. Let’s first agree on a truth. No one’s right to privacy is absolute or ever assured. However, plotting the peaceful overthrow of a government (in America we call that an election) should not be subject to snooping. If we can go to war over hacking, should we not then also stand up for people’s human rights to peacefully and privately express their views? Ronald Reagan used to rail on how the Soviet Union wasn’t free. He was right. Now here we are in age of the Internet. What do his words mean in today’s context? The free flow of information is a human right. It’s not absolute if, for instance, you’re talking about robbing a bank.
By the way, the Egyptians did not break Skype’s encryption, but instead seem to have infected the system of the dissidents. That’s something Skype can only partially control- that is, if the infection was spread by Skype’s Instant Messaging capability, then they do bear some responsibility. But if it was spread by other means, then there’s really not much they can do.