Roundtable: Balancing the need for Security and the concerns for Privacy Concerns

17 November 2009 - A Workshop on Openness in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt


Security threats are real. Governments are concerned about Cyberwarfare and related threats, business entities suffer from cybercrime in various ways while the average user faces various forms of security threats online. These threats are real but the measures against these threats are considered disproportionate and happen to cause greater harm sometimes than the threats to be warded off.
Moves to address the security concerns often result in breach of privacy. For instance Security could be improved by eliminating room for anonymity online and by gathering as much information about the user and the user's online activity. From the Privacy point of view, this exposes the user in various ways to the Government, Business and other interests. The security measures are considered as intrusion into the user's private lives and amount to surveillance, so, opposed. Security and Privacy are divided sides but it is possible to see merits in the argument by both sides. The open Internet architecture does shelter unwanted and dangerous elements, but surveillance of everything everywhere is unacceptable as a solution. For example geo-location devices in every automobile could help law & order minimize incidents of automobile threats, but would everyone want to be tracked all the time? And even if the impossible agreement is reached, wouldn't exposing information about one's whereabouts bring about a new vulnerability? The user who wants privacy also wants a solution to spam and other online security threats. But should the user make compromises to his privacy values? If so, what is the extent of compromises that are required?
On the other hand, is there a way out of the real threats without disturbing privacy values? Privacy and Security concerns are often seen as conflicting concerns as each side often tends to be overwhelmed by its own concerns. On a deeper level, even the most activist privacy proponents would desire a Secure Internet relatively free of electronic dangers. At the same time, those who apparently appear to disregard privacy concerns would acknowledge the need for privacy to the necessary degree. This round table is proposed to bring together different points of view on Security and Privacy and encourage a free and unrestrained debate to look for convergence in some areas between the two
sides. The roundtable would approach this broadly with a view to define and enumerate concerns on both sides and look for unseen common grounds.


1) Katiza Rodriguez, EPIC- Agreed to participate.
2) Bruce Schneier- Accepted.
3) Robin Cross, IP Justice - Accepted
4) Andres Piazza – Accepted
5) Zahid Jamil, Pakistan. - approached, provisionally accepted.
6) Dr Steve Crocker - approached.
7) Dave Piscitello- approached
8) Arkadiy kremer, Russia - approached
9) Mr Tang, China. T- approached
10) John Perry Barlow, – Invited, not attending IGF.
11) Wolfgang Benedek
12) Jean-Marc Dinant
13) Alejandro Pisanty
14) Simon Davies

The Electronic Privacy Information Center has been invited to be co-organizer and their concurrence has been received