Academics and authors stand against mass surveillance
More than 250 academics from all over the world have recently signed a
declaration calling for a stop to the mass surveillance of citizens’
communications online by US and European authorities.
“Intelligence agencies monitor people’s Internet use, obtain their phone
calls, email messages, Facebook entries, financial details, and much
more. Agencies have also gathered personal information by accessing the
internal data flows of firms such as Google and Yahoo. Skype calls are
‘readily available’ for interception. Agencies have purposefully
weakened encryption standards – the same techniques that should protect
our online banking and our medical files. These are just a few examples
from recent press reports. In sum: the world is under an unprecedented
level of surveillance. This has to stop,” says the declaration.
The declaration states that privacy is a fundamental right protected by
international treaties and that mass surveillance turns the presumption
of innocence into a presumption of guilt. “Intelligence agencies must be
subjected to transparency and accountability. People must be free from
blanket mass surveillance conducted by intelligence agencies from their
own or foreign countries. States must effectively protect everyone’s
fundamental rights and freedoms, and particularly everyone’s privacy.”
Also, on 10 December 2013, the day of Human Rights, 562 top authors form
80 countries, including five Nobel Prize winners, joined together in a
coalition called Writers Against Mass Surveillance, calling for a
charter curbing spy agencies.
“This fundamental human right has been rendered null and void through
abuse of technological developments by states and corporations for mass
A person under surveillance is no longer free; a society under
surveillance is no longer a democracy.
To maintain any validity, our democratic rights must apply in virtual as
in real space,” says the petition of Writers Against Mass Surveillance.
The petition calls for the right of “all people to determine, as
democratic citizens, to what extent their personal data may be legally
collected, stored and processed, and by whom; to obtain information on
where their data is stored and how it is being used; to obtain the
deletion of their data if it has been illegally collected and stored.”
It calls on all states and corporations to respect these rights and on
citizens to stand up for their rights.
It also calls on the UN “to acknowledge the central importance of
protecting civil rights in the digital age, and to create an
International Bill of Digital Rights” and call on governments to sign
and adhere to such a bill.
Academics Against Mass Surveillance (01.2014)
A stand for democracy in the digital age (10.12.2013)
Academics, Authors Worldwide Start 2014 Strongly Against Surveillance