Edward Snowden Tells the Legal Profession That Protecting Client Confidentiality Now Requires Encryption
From Saturday’s Guardian – here is the complete transcript.
The NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, has urged lawyers, journalists, doctors, accountants, priests and others with a duty to protect confidentiality to upgrade security in the wake of the spy surveillance revelations.
Snowden said professionals were failing in their obligations to their clients, sources, patients and parishioners in what he described as a new and challenging world.
No matter how careful you are from that point on, no matter how sophisticated your source, journalists have to be sure that they make no mistakes at all in the very beginning to the very end of a source relationship or they’re placing people actively at risk. Lawyers are in the same position. And investigators. And doctors.
It’s a constantly increasing list and one that we’re not even aware of today. I would say lawyers, doctors, investigators, possibly even accountants. Anyone who has an obligation to protect the privacy interests of their clients is facing a new and challenging world and we need new professional training and new professional standards to make sure that we have mechanisms to ensure that the average member of our society can have a reasonable measure of faith in the skills of all the members of these professions.
What last year’s revelations showed us was irrefutable evidence that unencrypted communications on the internet are no longer safe and cannot be trusted. Their integrity has been compromised and we need new security pro[grams] to protect them. Any communications that are transmitted over the internet, over any networked line, should be encrypted by default. That’s what last year showed us.
The best recent piece I have seen on the implications of these developments for the legal profession is a brilliant piece by Sharon Nelson & John Simek in this month’s ABA Practice Management, entitled Snowden NSA Revelations Will Change the Practice of Law. If you can’t access it here at the ABA, then the text is also at the Oregon Bar site.