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Web Designers Have a Responsibility to Protect Civil Rights

The internet and its design standards are at odds, according to Daniel Kahn Gillmor, a Technologist for the ACLU. In order to fix it, designers need to implement better security standards for communication.

The internet and its design standards are at odds, according to Daniel Kahn Gillmor, a Technologist for the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology project. If Americans want to have any bit of privacy on the open web, designers need to implement better security standards.

The ACLU has long concentrated on protecting the civil liberties of Americans, and the next step, they believe, is to make sure “encryption and other privacy enabling technologies to exist in a digital age,” Gillmor said in a blog post. The internet is our new infrastructure and in it we should have the same rights that have been handed down to us in the terrestrial world. Designers are the new builders, and in it they have a responsibility to be aware of the user’s civil rights. Under the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution, every American has the right to personal privacy and security. It states:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”

It’s easy for designers to get caught up in optimizing a site for less clicks to get to a product that they can forget that users are humans with rights to privacy. Gillmor is “writing the rules for the technologies we will all use in the next few decades.”

Gillmor’s goal is to give designers–particularly those involved in communications–standards to follow to guide them in making the next decade of internet infrastructure more secure than the last. He wants encryption to become a must-have feature when first tackling a product. He wants to see an internet that can communicate without fear of their security or privacy being compromised.

“As our society moves further and further online, the design choices made in the underlying communications technology infrastructure can critically shape what kinds of society are possible.”

Read more at ACLU

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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