By Tim Hardy
The recent NSA Prism revelations have exposed to a wider audience both the extent of government surveillance and the very clear dangers of moving more and more of our lives online. These dangers are so much more acute for those seeking to organise political campaigns. As the concept of the internet as separate to the rest of life dissolves, we need to fight for internet freedoms. This can no longer be a question that just concerns a technological-minded minority.
To the authoritarians who sneer you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide, I’d recommend We Should All Have Something To Hide. We live in a society that is very far from just and progress requires people to break existing unjust laws. “How could states decide that same sex marriage should be permitted, if nobody had ever seen or participated in a same sex relationship?” Moreover, even if one is not breaking existing laws, we still should have a right to carry out our lives without having to put up with surveillance that fails to deter or catch the professional criminals and terrorists whose existence is used to justify it.
To those who think it’s fine for a democratic government to build the structure of a total police state because the worst will never happen, they’re already rounding up trans* people, immigrants, drug users, sex workers and other “undesirables” in parts of Europe and putting them in internment camps. [Update: see footnote below] When states are constructing the infrastructure of totalitarianism, citing “Godwin’s law” at critics marks you as a dangerous idiot.
To ensure the possibility of freedom, we need to create a digital commons. This will require both active resistance to the legislation the companies engaged in enclosure are bribing our politicians to implement and resistance to the surveillance state both the left and the right embrace so willingly. Campaigning organisation like the Electronic Freedom Foundation and the Open Rights Group need your help.
On a technological note, there has never been a greater need to get projects like the Freedom Box up and running.
The Freedom box offers
- Email and telecommunications that protects privacy and resists eavesdropping
- A publishing platform that resists oppression and censorship.
- An organizing tool for democratic activists in hostile regimes.
- An emergency communication network in times of crisis.
I am not convinced that blogging about these topics is an effective use of time which is why this site is on more or less permanent hiatus. If you want to do something, please get involved with the organisations and projects listed above. A hashtag never changed the world and comment just sells advertising space. Instead consider helping to build the legislative and technological architecture of freedom before it is too late. It’s time to reclaim our data from corporations and to reject those who would deny our freedoms in the name of security.
Update: the article cited above about the state of affairs in Greece has been criticised: see Greece is not that dead yet. That we are perhaps not yet as far down the road as some might believe should not make us complacent about the direction of travel.