IGF 2023 WS #382 Will you hear us? The real-life impact of weak encryption


Data Governance & Trust
Data Privacy and Protection

Organizer 1: Biyani Neeti, Internet Society
Organizer 2: Mallory Knodel, 🔒
Organizer 3: Tiwari Udbhav, Mozilla
Organizer 4: Waghre Prateek, Internet Freedom Foundation
Organizer 5: Sheetal Kumar, 🔒

Speaker 1: Wood Chris, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Gheorghiu Diana, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Linis-Dinco Jean, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Waghre Prateek, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Sheetal Kumar, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Biyani Neeti, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group


Mallory Knodel, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

What role does end to end encrypted messaging play in your life and in your work?
How would policy and legislative proposals that would undermine encrypted messaging affect you?
What can we collectively do to support everyone’s right to private and secure communications?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Participants will be invited to join the Global Encryption Coalition and contribute to its goals and its activities. This includes updates to the Coalition’s strategy, intel sharing, joint-advocacy opportunities, and other resource sharing. The storybanking approach is also likely to feed into preparations for Global Encryption Day, which will be celebrated on 21 of October and to which all IGF community will be invited to.


This session is hosted by the Global Encryption Coalition Steering Committee (Internet Freedom Foundation; Mozilla; Center for Democracy and Technology; ISOC; Global Partners Digital) with the intention of bringing the voices most affected by threats to encryption to the table.

Despite its essential role in cybersecurity and protecting human rights including of the most vulnerable communities, encryption continues to be under threat. One of the main drivers of threats to encryption is the purported aim to address online harms and cybercrime. Yet, those in society who are the most marginalised and most at threat are those who benefit from encryption and would be disproportionately affected by measures that would undermine it. Unfortunately we rarely hear from these communities, and from people who benefit from and would most directly, and disproportionately, affected by threats to encryption.

For these reasons, in this session we will hear from journalists and activists; defenders of LGBTQ rights and child rights groups about the role that strong and encrypted messaging plays in their lives and work.

During this session our discussion will be framed according to guiding questions that will bring the voices of affected communities to the table, and bear witness to the role of secure, strong, encrypted messaging in protecting their rights and their security. To further encourage participants’ contributions, we will limit kick-off remarks to 5 minutes from 3 speakers. We will then open up the floor and invite other participants to contribute. Participants will also have the option of sending written responses after the event to increase accessibility and account for language or time zone barriers. We will write a summary of the session which we will share with the Global Encryption Coalition and publish on the Global Encryption Coalition’s website.

Expected Outcomes

For three years, the Global Encryption Coalition (GEC) has been defending strong encryption. In that period of time, the Coalition has grown to more than 300 members, coordinated advocacy, launched and hosted Global Encryption Day in 2021 and 2022 and helped put an end to dangerous proposals that would have undermined encryption.
We anticipate that this session will contribute to a growing storybank of stories (https://www.globalencryption.org/events/ged/encryption-kept-me-safe/) from those most affected by regulatory and policy threats to encryption, thereby bringing critical voices to the discussions and in that way contribute to informed, evidence based discussions on encryption.

Hybrid Format: We anticipate a mix of online and onsite speakers, but we will ensure interaction between onsite and online attendees by requesting questions throughout the session. This will then be relayed to online attendees if made in person, or shared in person if asked online by the moderator.
The design of the session will ensure the best possible experience for online and onsite participants as it will build in time for input by participants. We intend to monitor the chat function throughout the session.
The moderators will coordinate and play an active role by encouraging questions on encryption, and posing questions directly to the speakers. We will make use of other tools such as polls, to engage the audience and solicit input from attendees, particularly as these provide for anonymous engagement. We will incorporate rounds of questions throughout the session.