The Pragmatic Privacy Manifesto

The Pragmatic Privacy Manifesto

At evervault, our mission is to make data privacy simple and accessible for all. Given all the time we’ve spent on solving this problem, we have a pretty unique view of the world of privacy as well as how we expect it to unfold over the coming years.

We’ve distilled these down to the following eight principles:

🔒 1. Data should always be caged

Sensitive data should never leave an individual’s device unless it has been encrypted in such a way that it can only be processed by a privacy cage.

Privacy cages are environments that contain data processing code with no external access.

They should prevent anybody but the data owner from accessing the underlying information, regardless of their position.

Organisations should never store, replicate or handle any sensitive data without using a privacy cage. This includes storing the content on CDNs or making external backups.

Cautionary tale: Capital One stored credit card application forms for 106 million people unencrypted in an S3 bucket

💣 2. Cages should be tamper-proof

Nobody should have the ability to modify a cage once information has been sent to it and they should self-destruct if they are tampered with.

Sensitive data should be cryptographically bound to the cage itself and modifying the cage should render the encrypted information useless.

In practice, we use secure enclaves powered by technologies like Intel SGX and Keystone to keep information encrypted at all times in hardware-securedprivacy cages, even during processing.

We think software-securedprivacy cages are the future and we’re keeping a close eye on developments in the field of Fully Homomorphic Encryption. It’s really promising technology — we’re just a while away from seeing practical usage in deployments at scale.

📦 3. Cages should use modular cryptography

Privacy cages should use cryptographic algorithms that are entirely modular, allowing cages to adapt to changes in the threat landscape over time.

As computers become faster and new threats to cryptography like quantum computing emerge, we think it’s crucial that the software-defined privacy cages can keep sensitive data secured regardless of advancements in adversarial approaches.

We closely monitor developments in research such as post-quantum cryptography and do our best to provide developers with the tools to integrate the cutting edge of privacy technologies into their products.

🧮 4. Data should be governed by the laws of mathematics

The judicial approach is poorly enforced, creates confusion and leads to misinterpretation.

We believe that the laws of mathematics are much more robust, while also preventing any external involvement and influence.

Although we applaud the efforts of various regulatory bodies in passing legislation such as the GDPR, CCPA and ePrivacy, they’re putting the cart before the horse by compelling companies to bake in privacy while toolkit is almost entirely non-existent.

📜 5. Organizations have a revocable lease

The individual is the ultimate owner of the personal data. Full stop.

Organisations and companies have a revocable lease on this data in order to provide individuals with the service or product that they request.

We’re building the infrastructure that ensure that these companies have nothing more than an ephemeral lease on the data, while still enabling them to provide their service.

🔢 6. Support pragmatic privacy

Privacy cage developers should strive to use the most secure technology possible without increasing friction for the individual.

Threading the needle between practicality and security is hard, and it’s something that people have gotten badly wrong before.

By following this general rule, we think it’s much easier for developers to get a better grasp on what’s right and what’s wrong when it comes to engineering their cages.

🔧 7. Integrate into the development stack

Privacy cages should be directly integrated into the stack and infrastructure that developers use to build their application from day one.

When a developer sits down to write their software, they might ask questions like “what database should I use?” or “what framework should I use?”. Asking “what privacy cage should I use?” should be totally standard and we expect this to become the new norm over the coming years.

Our aim is to integrate privacy cages into the fabric of internet infrastructure.

👷‍♀ 8. Don’t hinder the builder

Privacy is a basic expectation and human right, but it’s something that should never create any friction or slow down the speed of technological advancement.

At evervault, we’re building the privacy infrastructure for the coming centuries, not just the next couple of months. As such, we think it’s vital that we support the builders and creators of innovative tech to make progress even quicker than ever before. That’s a critical component of the decisions we make on a daily basis.

Keep these eight principles at heart and it's hard to go wrong. The Pragmatic Privacy Manifesto defines the DNA of our product thinking at evervault, but more importantly we believe that it will form the basis of how we, as people, think about data privacy now and in the future.

To learn more about evervault and how we think about data privacy, visit our website.

Shane Curran

About Shane Curran

Founder @ evervault