Privacy and Security Gatekeeping

I recently watched a video on LBRY, on the topic of privacy and security gatekeeping, from one of my favorite channels on the platform, Techlore(view the video here). Though their video was released about 2 weeks ago, I really wanted to bring more light to this topic.

According to Urban Dictionary, gatekeeping is defined as “when someone takes it upon themselves to decide who does or does not have access or rights to a community or identity”. Gatekeeping takes place in all communities, and while it may be a common occurrence, it's a toxic one. If you've ever been on the receiving end of a gatekeeping comment, you know exactly how disparaging that can feel.

In Techlore's video they highlight some key gatekeeping issues regarding privacy and security in the community, and solutions on how to resolve them. The issues they bring up are that we who are focused on being more private and secure don't care enough about others who aren't. They go one to say that not caring about these individuals can have a negative impact on our community. Some privacy and security focused projects go under because not enough users can support the developers behind them. Without enough users and support, privacy and security initiatives get thrown out the window and could even one day be outlawed. We're already seeing this as a potential threat with proposals like the Earn It Act.

The video also highlights how we come to see security and privacy, and how this turns into gatekeeping. In the video they mention a user asking for assistance on how to make Windows more secure, only to be met with snide comments and suggestions on switching to Linux. While Linux is great, we don't know that person's situation. Is it a work computer? Do they not want to use Linux because using Windows is hard enough? Either way, we neglected that persons issues and did not answer their question. Why would they want to use Linux if they can't depend on the community for help now?

Techlore mentions someone calling them out for using a closed source, proprietary app on their smartphone because it doesn't meet their definition of privacy and security(ironic considering they made the comment on a YouTube video). This isn't a helpful attitude and it's not conducive to furthering the growth in this field or people joining the cause. Calling out someone for their app choices in no way helps that individual be more private nor more secure. We should all be free to use the applications we want too, even if some of them are closed source and propriety.

Techlore offers the solutions that we should keep our biases in check, be willing to help out those interested in attaining more private and secure ways of interacting online. And, to remember that gatekeeping is toxic and does in no way benefit us, or those wanting to embrace this way of life.

In the video Techlore talks about projects like Signal and Brave, that while having their faults, do appeal to a larger base and have privacy and security settings in place from the start. Having more options like these on the market gets people interested and eventually encourages them to join our community.

Why Talk About This?

This message resonates with me in particular as I'm not a programmer, I'm not particularly good in the Linux terminal. I'm not an old school Linux user and I'm not particularly well known in the community. Basically a perfect target for gatekeepers(I've dealt with a few).

Still, I run a blog covering free and open source software and hardware because of my passion for it. Also, for my strong convictions that we need to live in a more private and secure world online.

To Those Opposed to Privacy and Security

Most people don't know that everything they do online is tracked, catalogued and sold to the highest bidder. That there are no protections in play from the big tech companies gobbling up your information and selling it for marketing purposes.

Not caring about privacy because you have nothing to hide, is like not caring about freedom of speech, because you have nothing to say. It just doesn't make any sense.