From my perspective, today was remarkable – an achievement of industry and governments collaborating, debating, and indeed grinding together through the ethical, moral, and governance frameworks that define Internet Freedom – and indeed the relationships of the states, corporations, and citizens with how they use networks, consume services, use data, preserve human rights and retain privacy.
I first came to Estonia in the summer of last year on behalf of the US Government to investigate a technology invented by Estonia scientists to address one of the most fundamental issues related to freedom online – integrity. I would like to spend a few minutes highlighting the reasons why I became so excited about Estonia and how Estonian innovation will continue to drive the future of the Internet.
As we all know in 1976 Whit Diffie proposed PKI as a solution to establishing a secure connection between two parties over an insecure channel. Since then security has always revolved around keys. Yet the insight that Estonian scientists had is that Confidentiality and Integrity and diametrically opposite problems – if you think about a crime in the physical world – the more people who witness the crime the more the integrity of the evidence is increased – yet the more people who witness a crime the less the confidentiality can be assured. And Ladies and Gentlemen – Integrity of information and the events that occur in digital society is critical to accountability and transparency.
What I discovered is that Estonian scientists have built is a technology that allows the entire planet to verify EVERY event in cyberspace in such a way that the PRIVACY of each event is maintained but the integrity of the event cannot be denied. Such a system, known as KSI, or keyless signature infrastructure, implemented here in Estonia provides complete transparency – it is impossible for governments to lie – every citizen can verify the integrity of events independently from those presenting them.
While we admire the efforts of industry and governments to increase transparency by issuing transparency reports it always reminds people here of Soviet Production Reports – how can you trust the message if you can’t trust the messenger ? What Estonia has implemented at the digital level is TRUST BUT VERIFY – independent verification of everything that happens in cyberspace.
Mr President, thank you for encouraging innovation and showing how Estonia continues to lead the world in innovation and freedom online. I’m delighted to say that since I joined the company I am proud to be working to protect the rights of everyone online.