Some of the most important work we do at EFF is build technologies to protect users’ privacy and security, and give developers tools to make the entire Internet ecosystem more safe and secure. Every day, EFF’s talented and dedicated computer scientists and engineers are creating and making improvements to our free, open source extensions, add-ons, and software to solve the problems of creepy tracking and unreliable encryption on the web.
Joining EFF this week to direct and shepherd these technology projects is internationally-recognized cybersecurity and encryption expert Jon Callas. He will be working with our technologists on Privacy Badger, a browser add-on that stops advertisers and other third-party trackers from secretly tracking users’ web browsing, and HTTPS Everywhere, a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts user communications with major websites, to name of few of EFF’s tech tools.
Callas will also bring his considerable crypto and security chops to our policy efforts around encryption and securing the web. In the last two decades he has designed and built core cryptographic and concurrent programming systems that are in use by hundreds of millions of people.
As an entrepreneur, Callas has been at the center of key security and privacy advancements in mobile communications and email—the best-known of which is PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), one of the most important encryption standards to date. He was chief scientist at the original PGP Inc., and co-founded PGP Corp. in 2002. Later, Callas was chief technology officer at Internet security company Entrust, and co-founded encrypted communications firm Silent Circle, where he led teams making apps for encrypted chat and phone calls, including secure conference calls and an extra-secure Android phone called Blackphone.
Callas also did a couple of stints at Apple, where he helped design the encryption system to protect data stored on the Mac, and led a team that hacked new products to expose vulnerabilities before release. Along the way, he has garnered extensive leadership experience, having managed large engineering teams. In 2018, Callas left the corporate world to focus on policy as a technology fellow at the ACLU. In July he took aim at fatal flaws in the UK’s proposal to force service providers to give the government “exceptional access” to people’s encrypted communications (in other words, let the government secretly access private, encrypted messages).
The proposal’s authors denied the plan would “break” encryption, saying it would merely suppress notifications that the government happened to be accessing communications that people believe are secure, private, and free of interception. As Callas wrote at the ACLU, “a proposal that keeps encryption while breaking confidentiality is a distinction without a difference.”
We couldn’t agree more. EFF has fought since its founding 30 years ago to keep the government from breaking, or forcing others to break, encryption, and for people’s right to private and secure communications. We’re proud to have such a talented and passionate advocate for these principles on our team. Welcome, Jon!