Thursday, December 12, 2013

Endorsing the international writers' call for an international bill of digital rights!!

We all have a cadre of the world's acclaimed writers to thank, and several of the major powers in the world to oppose, in the writers' call for an international bill of digital rights. In their open appeal against the National Security Agency, they write, "Surveillance violates the private sphere and compromises freedom of thought and opinion," the appeal says. "As we have seen, this power is being systemically abused." ( see Nobel Prize-Winning Writers Say NSA Surveillance Power 'Is Being Systemically Abused' By Matt Sledge, HuffingtonPost.com, December 9 2013, excerpted below)
CBC News reported Monday that a top secret document retrieved by American whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals Canada has set up covert spying posts at the request of the giant U.S. National Security Agency, and is involved in joint espionage operations with the NSA in about 20 countries.
Recently revealed documents by the CBC also disclose that the Canadian equivalent of the NSA, Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), the little-known spy service that collects intelligence by intercepting mainly foreign communications and hacking into computer data systems.
CSEC says it has a "mandate to intercept foreign communications signals to respond to government of Canada priorities."
The agency says it collects foreign intelligence "to protect Canadians from threats, and we take that responsibility very seriously." (By Greg Weston, CBC news, December 19, 2013)
So while the NSA is garnering most of the international scorn, the Canadian equivalent is equally complicit in gathering information, under the aegis of the NSA.
Although the writers' public appeal calls on the United Nations to institute a digital bill of rights, it will be a question that will require national debates within the government's of all major powers in order to be implemented, even if the UN takes up the writers' petition.
The public's need to endorse the writers' petition is clearly going to stir considerable unrest among the law-and-order right who value power and punishment much more than they value freedom of thought and of expression. And given the increasing power of the "right" in all of its various manifestations, along with the apparent lack of unity, discipline and solidarity on the left, in most countries, the creeping intelligence monster will have embedded its deep and profound fangs into the public consciousness to the point where most people take it for granted that secret surveillance is normal and necessary and then it will take another tsunami of public outrage to push it back into its many secret caves.
How individual states integrate the new technology into its "security apparatus" is not only a technical and technological question; it is also a political, ethical and moral question. And it is on the side of the larger issues of how states interact with each other, including how and when and why those states respect the individuals living in their jurisdiction that we join the writers' call for an international bill of digital rights.
We must not permit governments in their obsessive pursuit of national security,  based on their collective neurosis, sometimes even psychosis, to conduct their own onslaught on personal freedoms, especially when, through the whistle-blowers who have already risked so much to make us aware, we know some of the measures that are already being taken on our behalf, without our consent or permission.
The military-industrial complex, against which Eisenhower warned us to be vigilant, has morphed into something much larger and more dangerous...the military-industrial-informational-corporate complex... that has many more tools in its quiver and a public that is so far behind in comprehending and sanctioning its secret moves and which already threatens to reduce forever the opportunity for open, free and honest dialogue between even friendly states, not to mention those states considered outliers. And the public cry on behalf of the secrecy establishment (not merely the intelligence establishment) that our security is protected by their monstrous efforts to gather information has to be resisted in the strongest terms.
Personal individual and collective freedoms have to trump our intelligence gathering motives otherwise Orwell's Big Brother will live in our homes, and in our heads forever...

Nobel Prize-Winning Writers Say NSA Surveillance Power 'Is Being Systemically Abused'
By Matt Sledge, HuffingtonPost.com, December 9 2013
Some of the world's most famous writers have signed an open appeal against the National Security Agency that says the U.S. government's mass surveillance chills freedom of thought.
Nobel laureates Orhan Pamuk, J.M. Coetzee, Elfriede Jelinek, G√ľnter Grass and Tomas Transtr√∂mer are among hundreds of "writers against mass surveillance" worldwide who have signed the open appeal, which calls on governments and corporations to respect citizens' privacy rights.
"Surveillance violates the private sphere and compromises freedom of thought and opinion," the appeal says. "As we have seen, this power is being systemically abused."
Other notable signers include Richard Ford, Margaret Atwood, Umberto Eco, Yann Martel, Dave Eggers, Colum McCann, Sapphire, Ian McEwan, and Don DeLillo. In Europe the appeal was released on Tuesday -- Human Rights Day.
The writers' statement asks the United Nations to create an international bill of digital rights. The U.S., along with surveillance partners that include the United Kingdom and Australia, have sought to weaken a U.N. resolution that would express support for digital privacy.
"We are really very worried about mass surveillance," said Janne Teller, a Danish writer who helped organize the open message. "We think it's undermining democracy totally, and we are shocked that more people aren't up in arms about it,"
Teller said she doesn't believe writers are threatened more than ordinary citizens by mass surveillance, but their work makes them particularly attuned to its dangers.

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