– and that is wrong!
Last weekend i was at a friends house and we got into the whole NSA, Snowden, surveillance debate and i had an epiphany why in the Post-Snowden era still nobody really is concerned and fighting for freedom.
One of the most common misconceptions about digital surveillance is that you can evade it if you just do not use computers and the internet. The underlying misinterpretation lies in the word computer. People only think of computers as laptops or desktops. They always forget that, although the the internet of things is not here yet, loads of computers exist around them that are hidden. Every cellphone, every (modern) car, almost everything around us is or is using a computer. Without them you would not get paid, you could not buy groceries, you could not buy tickets for public transportations, etc – and these are just the things i could think of off the top of my head. If you think about it you will find that there is no way of living a socialised life in developed countries if you deny computers in your life. Thus it is impossible to avoid surveillance. This means that no, you can’t just throw out your computer and live a happy life. Furthermore we need to remember that this is only one aspect, we have not even thought about metadata and the data people that you keep as friends divulge about you.
Martin Luther King and the vigilant bureau
Maybe you came across the fact that January the 19th was Martin Luther King, Jr day. The movement of MLK was not only important for the progression of human rights but it also taught us something important about the governments and surveillance. Governments do not like people who think differently and question said authorities or those who want to change society to the better. The EFF publicized several articles regarding MLK and the US intelligence agencies which tell a shocking story about how the governments like to abuse their power. At that time the FBI even composed a “suicide letter” for MLK in order to pressure him to end his life. Another article they published tells us how agencies abused their power to try to undermine the African-American movement in order to stop it. Remember that was at a time when people did not use computers and the internet. Nowadays this measures become more powerful with a far greater reach and this is a potential danger to civil rights activists all over the world. As cardinal Richelieu put it so eloquently:
If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.
Total global surveillance is dangerous, and it can and will stop political activists. It will discredit them, it will excavate “facts” about people that will stop them in the process, keep them quiet. If you care about our future and the progress of human rights then you should take stance against the things that are currently happening. It is important to show people that we cannot afford broadband surveillance and that what is happening in “cyberspace” does affect the real world and therefore everyone. People tend not to make that connection and that is, at least in my opinion, one of the major reasons why people are just like “meh”. Talk to people, draw that connection for them, make them understand and hopefully someday in the future people are allowed to think different without having to fear prosecution by a totalitarian surveillance state.