“I can tell you from firsthand experience that privacy is now at the forefront of how all these companies are thinking about their strategies moving forward,” Ethan Oberman, the C.E.O. of SpiderOak, told me. His company is one of many whose notoriety has spiked since the Snowden leaks. Its latest project, Crypton, is an open-source framework for “zero knowledge” privacy systems—that is, systems where user data is encrypted locally before traveling to cloud servers, leaving the company with nothing to hand over to authorities but jumbled ciphertext and a few pieces of metadata. “It makes it so that users don’t have to trust the company in the middle,” said Higgins. “In the long run, that leads to a better relationship with that company, and, ultimately, I think it does lead to trust.”
“Both Higgins and Oberman said that demanding transparency is an important first step in a much longer process, and they admit that many companies may not be willing to go the extra mile just yet. But Oberman said that once transparency measures are in place, users can start to make more informed decisions about how much they value their privacy and what information is important to them. He predicts that this could create an incentive for services to offer multiple levels of privacy, storing sensitive data in secure containers while allowing less-sensitive bits to be available for ad-targeting purposes. “We’re engaged with a lot of companies that are starting to think about data along those terms,” he said. “I think they’re all now taking a deep breath and considering what they can do to rebuild trust.”
SpiderOak just hired David Dahl to supercharge Crypton development. David is a veteran software privacy engineer with more than 15 years at Mozilla Corporation, and is also one of the founding members of the W3C Web Cryptography Working Group. On Monday, he wrote on our blog about how he will be pushing Crypton forward, and details on how you can join weekly Crypton calls.
Companies can also leverage Crypton and give privacy back to their users.
Here are the basics on this first ever privacy-first platform:
BUILT BY DEVELOPERS FOR DEVELOPERS
Crypton is for developers who want to build privacy into their apps. Crypton allows developers to provide customers a truly private storage and collaboration environment with no access to unencrypted customer data, without having to rely on 3rd party security layers or post development hacks.
EASILY DEVELOP ZERO-KNOWLEDGE APPS
More people are becoming “privacy aware.” Enterprises refuse to adopt solutions where the developer and service provider can access critical internal data. Crypton is the first application framework that provides a foundation for building zero-knowledge cloud products.
BUILT TO SCALE WITH YOUR APP
Built on PostgreSQL and node.js, Crypton was built with the intention of being horizontally scalable. Privacy doesn’t have to be a pain.
Please share with the developers you know. Let’s give privacy to the internet, together.