2013 has been an interesting year for whistle blowing about surveillance from the American and British governments. Earlier in the year Edward Snowden, a former NSA technologist, decided to put his own life on the line and leak a huge cache of documents about the NSA’s surveillance capabilities against its own people in the USA. This goes against the 4th amendment in the constitution that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.

Privacy and Surveillance
Privacy and Surveillance

The notion of surveillance is a complex topic. There are a lot of bad people out there that want to cause America, Britain, and Europe a lot of harm, and we need a way to keep tabs on these people. In this case I believe surveillance is justified. There will always be threats from domestic threats which also need to be monitored. The question here though is, have our governments crossed the line with the mass data collection that they are doing. In my opinion yes they have, but now this is all starting to get out in the open, maybe something will start to be done about it, hopefully. This all really started when George Bush gave the NSA the remit to collect this data after the September 11th attacks against the USA.

If you are not British and thinking, why does this matter to me I am not American, then you should still be concerned as some of the leaked information has indicated that the British Government and GCHQ are also collecting information on its citizens.

There is a huge amount of data and articles out there from whistle blowers and the associated articles written about them. It is starting to get very difficult to keep track of it all, but there is an organisation In the US that is here to help. They are the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Frontier Foundation

The EFF is a non-profit organisation setup to help when our freedoms in the networked world come under attack, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is the first line of defense. EFF broke new ground when it was founded in 1990—well before the Internet was on most people’s radar—and continues to confront cutting-edge issues defending free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights today. From the beginning, EFF has championed the public interest in every critical battle affecting digital rights.

The EFF has set up an excellent sub site that explains what is going on with the surveillance , what it all means in easy to understand language, and there is also a timeline of events so you can see what was revealed when. There is also a very handy index to all the main documents, and articles written about new papers.

I highly recommend reading through the information as it is important that everyone understands what is happening with their privacy and rights to privacy. You may not think you care about privacy on the internet, but you should. Our governments are collating every nugget of information about us from social networks, email phone etc, and whilst they don’t read all of it, they can at any moment extract your complete internet profile and potentially use it against you.

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  1. As an European, I say FU to the US government! I don’t want the US government to try and “protect me” by collecting all of my communications, especially when they didn’t even ask for my permission.

    Here’s how I want to US government to protect me. Give up all of the software and hardware vulnerabilities that they are hoarding up (for evil, not good), so we can all increase the security of our systems. Letting them as they are, just so they can (ab)use them themselves, means all of us are LESS protected.

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