Essays On Government Surveillance

The plummeting cost of storage and computing means that such data can be retained for longer and mined for future, unforeseen purposes.These digital dossiers appeal to governments for a range of purposes, both legitimate and illegitimate.

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In a blistering critique at the UN in September 2013, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff condemned these practices: “In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective democracy,” Rouseff declared.

“The right to safety of citizens of one country can never be guaranteed by violating the rights of citizens of another country.” Snowden’s revelations laid bare the rift between the stated values of the US and UK and their behavior.

There was broad recognition at the United Nations Human Rights Council that the same rights we enjoy offline must also apply online.

However, global trust in US and UK leadership on Internet freedom has evaporated ever since former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden began releasing evidence of mass surveillance by the NSA and its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

We now live in an age of “big data,” when our communications and activities routinely leave rich digital traces that can be collected, analyzed, and stored at low cost.

In parallel, commercial imperatives drive a range of companies to amass vast stores of information about our social networks, health, finances, and shopping habits.This Email Newsletter Privacy Statement may change from time to time and was last revised 5 June, 2018.Computer components destroyed at the behest of Britain's GCHQ spy agency that the Guardian newspaper used to store documents leaked to it by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden in 2013.In a 2008 visit to the United Kingdom, US General Keith Alexander, then-director of the NSA, asked, “Why can’t we collect all the signals, all the time?” The UK set out to meet that challenge with its Tempora program, which involves mass interception of data flowing over 200 undersea cables connecting Europe to the Americas, Africa, and beyond.By accessing data held by the private sector, governments can easily uncover patterns of behavior and associations, both offline and online—whether to thwart security threats or to identify a particularly vocal online critic of government policy.Security agencies in the US and UK have responded by building enormous storage facilities and voraciously collecting as much data as they can.Until the summer of 2013, the global movement for Internet freedom had been gaining momentum.A diverse range of governments had formed the Freedom Online Coalition and publicly committed to promoting a free, open, and global Internet through coordinated diplomatic efforts, led by the United States, United Kingdom, and their allies.Even while championing an open and free Internet, these governments were collecting data on hundreds of million people worldwide every day, including, in the case of the US, Dilma Rousseff herself.To make it easier to spy on people online and identify security threats, they have also surreptitiously weakened Internet security, paradoxically making all Internet users less safe and more vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves.


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