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BelgianMadCow's Journal
BelgianMadCow's Journal
December 10, 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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