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(5,379 posts)
Tue Dec 10, 2013, 03:01 AM Dec 2013

State surveillance of personal data is theft, say world's leading authors

Source: The Guardian

More than 500 of the world's leading authors, including five Nobel prize winners, have condemned the scale of state surveillance revealed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden and warned that spy agencies are undermining democracy and must be curbed by a new international charter.

The signatories, who come from 81 different countries and include Margaret Atwood, Don DeLillo, Orhan Pamuk, Günter Grass and Arundhati Roy, say the capacity of intelligence agencies to spy on millions of people's digital communications is turning everyone into potential suspects, with worrying implications for the way societies work.

They have urged the United Nations to create an international bill of digital rights that would enshrine the protection of civil rights in the internet age.


Winterson told the Guardian she regarded Snowden as a "brave and selfless human being"."We should be supporting him in trying to determine the extent of the state in our lives. We have had no debate, no vote, no say, hardly any information about how our data is used and for what purpose. Our mobile phones have become tracking devices. Social networking is data profiling. We can't shop, spend, browse, email, without being monitored. We might as well be tagged prisoners. Privacy is an illusion. Do you mind about that? I do."

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/10/surveillance-theft-worlds-leading-authors

Note that the Guardian goes on to mention yesterday's "similar" effort of the US tech companies demanding changes to the NSA programs. I fail to see how a call for digital rights by 500 independent authors is even remotely similar to tech companies who see the light after the facts are exposed, and who fully cooperated in silence with an obvious overreach.

Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, and AOL were willing accomplices. See the PRISM documentation here and here. This was not a case of them being hacked (though that also happened). They flatly denied cooperating yet they were paid to adapt their systems to allow for "proper" access, and only now that their bottom lines are hurting try to slither away from the guilty to the accusers' table.

Those that value their privacy might consider the broad collection of open source software at PRISM break.

On edit: I see it's being reported this call for digital rights is appearing as an op-ed in not just The Guardian, but also: The Frankfurter Allgemeine, El Pais, de Volkskrant (NL) and De Standaard (BE). There is also an underlying petition people can sign at http://www.change.org/petitions/a-stand-for-democracy-in-the-digital-age-3
On 2nd edit: Op-Ed running in 30 papers, list here.
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State surveillance of personal data is theft, say world's leading authors (Original Post) BelgianMadCow Dec 2013 OP
Interesting, but what about CORPORATE surveillance, I wonder? MADem Dec 2013 #1
A good question BelgianMadCow Dec 2013 #2
I resemble those remarks. MADem Dec 2013 #3
Well, I'm cynical like you, but BelgianMadCow Dec 2013 #4
I wonder if poor old "Agent Mike" was retired after Obama took office? MADem Dec 2013 #5
k&r idwiyo Dec 2013 #6
K&R - however cprise Dec 2013 #7
Excellent points BelgianMadCow Dec 2013 #9
"Apple" cprise Dec 2013 #11
Any "rights" will be useless unless the restriction also covers corporations Android3.14 Dec 2013 #8
Finding where governments end and corporations begin BelgianMadCow Dec 2013 #10


(135,425 posts)
1. Interesting, but what about CORPORATE surveillance, I wonder?
Tue Dec 10, 2013, 03:36 AM
Dec 2013

People check the block to get the discount, they freely give up their name/age/address and other personal details....they swipe the grocery store card and anyone with access to the database can tell that they bought those "adult diapers" or that discount box-o-wine. They want to "play," and so they "pay" with the currency of their personal details.

How to get away from the surveillance? Telling governments "No, no, you naughty nabobs, we want you to promise us that you won't do that anymore!" just won't cut it. Governments lie, or they find away around the "rules." Can't do it here? Well, gee, set up shop "over there" where there aren't any rules. And corporations? They don't care about consumers--they care about their bottom line.

The way to not be surveilled (or to be surveilled less--since most of us are on 'candid camera' every day) is to unplug. People aren't willing to do that, though. They like the computers and the cellphones with the facebook and the tweeting and the foursquare and all that other crap that didn't exist thirty years ago! This explosion of "sharing" has changed the way people view the world and how they interact with one another....I just don't think a "digital bill of rights" will put that genie back in the bottle. People like putting their details out there (for some odd reason) and bellowing their opinions to the world, and corporations like knowing with whom they are dealing so they can target their advertising to them, and make more money.

Are people willing to unplug? To shrink their worlds in exchange for less monitoring? Because to think that a government will "pinky swear" that they won't do it anymore is naive, I believe. If we're not doing it, the Chinese and Russians--and even the North Koreans, if they ever get their shit together-- will keep on keeping on--make no mistake.

I don't have any answers. I think the time to ask these questions and set up these guidelines was, say, 1985 or so. 1990 at the latest...!


(5,379 posts)
2. A good question
Tue Dec 10, 2013, 03:50 AM
Dec 2013

it will probably not surprise you that I tell all the peddlers of discount cards to shove it. Well, in a kind way, since the people at the register are only doing their job. Neither will it surprise you that I don't own a smartphone. So yes, I'm willing to "shrink" my world.

I doubt that unplugging is the only solution. Anonymous does exist, but I agree it's a significant hassle to protect our digital privacy. As is putting up curtain rails If nothing else, I hope this entire thing stops people from being totally unaware of the privacy implications of their online behaviour. The stuff people post on FB under their own name is baffling. So I wholeheartedly concur with you that a change in our own behaviour is the best start. TALK to people, for example.

I'll venture a guess and say that alternatives without built-in ubiquitous spying will be mainstream within a decade.


(135,425 posts)
3. I resemble those remarks.
Tue Dec 10, 2013, 04:08 AM
Dec 2013

I don't have a smartphone, either--I have a "drug dealer" phone-a tracfone, and I buy the cards at the store with cash. I don't use a cellphone that much, so this option is cheap for me. I can text, take pictures, do some crappy video--it has all the features, none of the cost.

I do have "cash discount cards" but they're not in my name. My dead pets still get mail with all sorts of offers--some of them have been "pre-approved" for credit cards. I especially love the invitations to "financial and investment seminars." The dead cat that gets these invites was quite a yowler--I could just picture her loud comments while the salesman tried to sell people a skeevy investment!! Meeeyowwwww!!!!

I take the attitude that if I put it out there, it's a matter of record. I don't get involved in the whole facebook scene, either. I have a barely used account in a name not my own, in order to access the site, but I can't be bothered with passing shit on, "sharing" or doing that silly stuff.

I've resigned myself to the fact that crap I buy on Amazon is a matter of record--that said, since I buy stuff for my computer challenged family and friends on occasion, my "profile" such as it is, is pretty warped!

I very much agree with you that "NSA-proof" comm device manufacture is a likely growth industry...being cynical, I have to wonder how long before they figure a way in there, too!


(5,379 posts)
4. Well, I'm cynical like you, but
Tue Dec 10, 2013, 04:23 AM
Dec 2013

I also had the weirdest experience in this regard: I told someone at the teller in a clothes shop that I would rather not shop there if I had to give personal data. To which the teller replied: yes I know, I have been trying to keep it possible in our systems to profit from bargains etc without giving personal info.

People are waking up, and as I'm fond of saying, waking up is irreversible.

Could they not try and compromise Open Source? It would be weird if they didn't try. Yet the combined power of collaborating people could and likely would expose it.

That being said, here we are posting away on a known "subversive" site using our main internet connections.

Agent Mike, are you wondering at what point they come after you for the opinions YOU hold?


(135,425 posts)
5. I wonder if poor old "Agent Mike" was retired after Obama took office?
Tue Dec 10, 2013, 04:28 AM
Dec 2013

Radio Shack (ugh, they have nothing good and they charge too much for batteries) always asks for zip code when you shop there. Sometimes I give them 90210 just to jerk their chains. Other times I say "I don't live in USA, I am a tourist" and they leave me be!


(8,445 posts)
7. K&R - however
Tue Dec 10, 2013, 06:22 AM
Dec 2013

1. Stop carrying a radio transmitter with microphone around with you everywhere

2. Never buy a machine with a non-removable battery than can pretend to be "off" while its on. If you can't quickly and easily "pull the plug" then its ultimately a threat.


(5,379 posts)
9. Excellent points
Tue Dec 10, 2013, 11:36 AM
Dec 2013

1. With mobile phones, who needs microchipping the population? We do it to ourselves.
2. Apple. Did I mention Apple?



(5,402 posts)
8. Any "rights" will be useless unless the restriction also covers corporations
Tue Dec 10, 2013, 07:14 AM
Dec 2013

The agencies will just purchase the data from Google.


(5,379 posts)
10. Finding where governments end and corporations begin
Tue Dec 10, 2013, 03:38 PM
Dec 2013

is hard enough. So yes, reigning in the government part alone will not be enough.

The EU has plans for a new tougher privacy directive, which would directly impact the Facebooks and Googles of the world. Guess who stepped on the brakes when it was discussed to try and finalize it in 2014? Merkel, even though that was at the height of the scandal around tapping her phone.

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