Worldwide protest against surveillance: Freedom not Fear 2008

Why should we care about it?

Surveillance and data retention is a problem that deserves Global attention, even for developing countries. In developing countries protests for such causes are sometimes not among the list of priorities, such as poverty, hunger and violence, which are the major concerns. Not quite. In Peru, breaking news points to surveillance coming from the government, and recently in Guatemala, the President himself was under heavy surveillance.

Mass surveillance is threatening the fabric of a democratic and open society and a healthy Internet. Mass surveillance is also endangering the work and commitment of civil society organizations – on and offline. That is why many conscious people got together last Saturday to commemorate Freedom not Fear Day, with a variety of peaceful protests:

In Berlin the greatest protest march against surveillance in Germany's history took place: Participants in the 2 km long, peaceful protest march carried signs reading “You are Germany, you are a suspect”, “No Stasi 2.0 – Constitution applicable here”, “Fear of Freedom?” and “Glass citizens, brittle democracy”. Apart from related music tracks, loud chants of “Belittle it today, be under surveillance tomorrow” or “We are here and we are loud because they are stealing our data” could be heard. During the protests, which were supported by more than 100 civil liberties groups, professional associations, unions, political parties and other organisations, artists played parodies on surveillance society.

It all started with the opposition to a Data Retention directive in EU. Now it has evolved and become global, as expressed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF):

Freedom Not Fear has evolved into a more general warning: showing how fundamental freedoms like privacy, freedom of expression, and democratic participation lose when reactionary surveillance systems penetrate our open networks, justified by a hyperbolic rhetoric of fear.

Saturday was a day to express why freedom, democracy, free speech, the right to private spaces and the right to private communication are important for any open society, and why mass-surveillance, mass data storage, mass data retention and video-surveillance by governments and private corporations are undermining such important liberties. The Internet is not immune for such invasion, actually, it has become a “tool” enabling many governments to control. The main argument has been Security concerns, but as explained by expert Bruce Schneir on his blog:

Too many wrongly characterize the debate as “security versus privacy.” The real choice is liberty versus control. Tyranny, whether it arises under threat of foreign physical attack or under constant domestic authoritative scrutiny, is still tyranny. Liberty requires security without intrusion, security plus privacy. Widespread police surveillance is the very definition of a police state. And that's why we should champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide.

Events took place in more than a dozen countries around the World, and hopefully in the years to come more voices will join to act against such abuses from Governments and companies.

Freedom not Fear Collage in London

From a big picture (above) unveiled by Open Rights Group in London, to a meeting of up to 100,000 people in Berlin, activities in Argentina, articles in Chile, an informative talk in Guatemala, and a rally followed by a Statement for October 11, 2008 in U.S., many people joined efforts to express their opposition to the increasing surveillance and controls by governments and also against data retention.

The most important messages were to affirm international human rights, including freedom of expression and privacy protection, repeal legal authorities that permit warrantless surveillance, unconstitutional monitoring and tracking of individuals, and a call to end the culture of secrecy that allows government officials to hide mismanagement, fraud, and incompetence behind the veil of “homeland security”, i.e. a call to transparency.

As GNS Blog said:

Computer technology, with its ability to store masses of data and then mine it for patterns of behaviour, or reproduce it to the unauthorised, or just monitor people's everyday activity, has a huge potential for ill in the hands of repressive or technologically illiterate governments. Equally it has huge potential for empowerment, the enablement of free speech and social networking

Here you can watch this illustrative video on Youtube:

2 comments

  • [...] 11 was Freedom Not Fear 2008 across the world, designed to protest the ever-growing tendency of governments to monitor its [...]

  • The structure of the society rests on the foundation .We cannot escape the consequences of losing all access to abrader a vision It creates a narrow-mindedness in the prospects of a development .Few amongst the citizen ,the masses have the ever given any serious consideration to the problem of life. Thus the problem of life still remain unsolved. Let us discuss that why are not having the solid foundations without access for the broader vision having an extinction for our existence. Freedom from bondage is liberation there is a goal of life with and devotion. Our tryst with destiny has not brought any desired changes for wiping out the tears from every eye .There cannot any political will amongst the individuals who are craving to get power. The Political will is guided by our constitution of India and we find that it is not having strong hold to keep the nation intact ,the society move and the country prosper .Some radical changes are needed to maintain country’s unity and integrity .The prosperity of the citizen do not lies in the form of government, chosen by them but in the accountability and the stability in its precepts and practice . There is no representative Govt. but an equation of inducting themselves as the representative of the to form there govt. It is only the constitution which may provide a device to ensure a degree of self assessment .We want more stability and lesser responsibility upon these representatives chosen from amongst the people by the appropriate amendment in our constitution .There should be periodical assessment of the responsibility of executives .The present constitution is the reproduction of the Govt. of India Act,1935 and the combination of ideals of western liberal democracy nurtured to achieve the goal of our constitutional aspiration . The federal system is based on decentralisation and it is a system evolved of the governance of heterogeneous , diverse and plural society in a small country to have been based on the representative Govt. and not on the basis of indirect representation through parliamentarian democratic system .It leads to instability we should take notice ofd the expectations of the people who fought the battle of independence by adopting the policy of self realisation as being professed by our father of nation. Our constitution is based on the assumption of the authority where the entrustment of power is imposed by having the restriction upon the excessive power. Let us accept that it was weakness of the character of our citizens that Indian dominion has to live under the British sovereignty and we had to fight a struggle for attaining the freedom. The need for imposing the restrictions are required to be done to keep the society intact from adjuring violence ,dealing with corrupt politicians and to control over burden some disastrous consequences .Let us examine how to fight against criminalisation, black-marketing ,essential service maintenance and law & order situation .There is a lake of political will in those are actively participating in service tom the nation ,they are being subjected to oppression and harassment .There is no place for benevolent honest citizen and those who are dishonest opportunist with a criminal background are seldom being respected by our citizens . The genesis of the character is based on the falsehood and in such circumstances until and unless accountability of the individual in public life is not fixed upon the representatives of the Govt. there is no hope for the revival of the nation .

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.