Archive | Civil liberties

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EDRi on EU public consultations on Internet and Big Brother issues:

Public consultations are an opportunity to influence policy-making at an early stage, and to help to shape a brighter future for your digital rights.

Below you can find the public consultations which EDRi finds relevant in 2017. (…) We will update the list on an ongoing basis, adding our responses to the consultations and other information that can help you get engaged.

EDRi: Important Consultations for your Digital Rights! »


Snowden on May and Human Rights


Meanwhile, in China…

In Xinjiang, China, citizens are being forced to install a targeted surveillance mobile app called Jingwang. Additionally, the government has set up random checkpoints on the streets to check whether the spyware is properly installed on your smartphone. On July 10th, mobile phone users in the region received a notification letting them know that they had 10 days to download and install the Jingwang spyware. Failure to install the app is punishable by up to 10 days imprisonment, according to the notice. According to the government, the spyware app has benign functions.

PI: In Xinjiang, China, police have set up checkpoints to ensure that the government-mandated “Jingwang” spyware is installed


The police will always know who you are

Police already have access to visors with built-in face recognition and fugitive spotting. The technology was in prototype stage a few years ago, and was successfully tested when police officers walked into dark cinemas full of people and got so-called People of Interest highlighted directly onto their field of vision. The future is approaching fast, and it’s not all shiny happy rainbow unicorns.

Falkvinge: There are already police visors with built-in face recognition and fugitive spotting »


UK: Go to prison – for a joke?

“Scottish comedian and YouTuber Markus Meechan, better known as Count Dankula, is facing a year in prison for recording and uploading a video where he taught his girlfriend’s pet dog how to “seig heil” on command. As Heat Street reported earlier this year the viral video did not amuse Scottish police, prompting his arrest.” (…)

“On Wednesday, Meechan posted an update about his case. “Legal aid application was rejected,” he posted on Twitter. ‘I’m fucked.'”

Heatstreet: Scottish YouTuber Who Faces Prison Over a Joke Can’t Get a Lawyer »


Are Millennials losing faith in democracy?

This spring surveys suggested that young people are ambivalent towards freedom of speech. Especially so when it comes to statements that might be offensive towards religions and minorities. (Link»)

Now, similar signals are reaching us when it comes to democracy as such.

World Economic Forum:

In a paper published by Roberto Stefan Foa of the University of Melbourne and Yascha Mounk of Harvard shows that the proportion of people who support “having a strong leader who does not have to bother with parliament or elections” has risen across the world over the past 25 years, in many cases considerably.

And there seems to be a clear trend among young people:

Foa and Mounk’s research shows that millennials have become less attached to the importance of voting. In 1995, only 16% of 16 to 24-year-old Americans believed that democracy was a bad way to run the country. By 2011, that share had increased to 24%.

Figures for Europe are approximately  7% in 1995 and 13% in 2011-12.

Another chart, based on the same research, shows a systematic decline in the percentage of people who think that it is essential to live in a democracy, depending on what decade they were born in.

It shows that those born in the 1930s believe in democracy much more than those born in the 1980s. Some 72% of those born in the 1930s in America think democracy is absolutely essential. So do 55% of the same cohort in the Netherlands.

But the millennial generation (those born since 1980) has grown much more indifferent. For example, only one in three Dutch millennials says the same; in the United States, that number is slightly lower, around 30%.

Young people also seem to be less interested in politics than older generations.

So, is there something »wrong« with young people? Or is it politics and democracy that is failing?

See all the charts here » World Economic Forum: Millennials are rapidly losing interest in democracy »


Canada introduces Orwellian speech code on gender pronouns

Canada’s Senate passed the Justin Trudeau Liberals’ transgender rights bill unamended this afternoon by a vote of 67 to 11, with three abstentions.

The bill adds “gender expression” and “gender identity” to Canada’s Human Rights Code and to the Criminal Code’s hate crime section. With the Senate clearing the bill with no amendments, it requires only royal assent in the House of Commons to become law.

Critics warn that under Bill C-16, Canadians who deny gender theory could be charged with hate crimes, fined, jailed, and compelled to undergo anti-bias training.

Canada passes radical law forcing gender theory acceptance »

This is very interesting – and worrying. Many countries have hate speech laws stating what you can not say. But this is a law dictating what people must say! Truly Orwellian.

So, in Canada, from now, you must use certain gender pronouns – and there seems to be a lot of them…

• Youtube » Canadian Bill C-16 Passes With No Amendments, Forcing Compelled Speech for Gender Pronouns:

• Youtube » Prison For Refusing Gender Pronouns? Lawyer Explains Bill C-16, Compelled Speech, to Canadian Senate:

• Youtube » Senate hearing on Bill C16:


Japans new pre-crime surveillance

Earlier today, after an intentionally rushed consideration process, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe passed a new mass surveillance law conveniently called the “anti-conspiracy bill.” The new law creates a list of 277 acts, and makes it illegal to plan any of these acts. With the vague wording of the bill, anyone suspected of planning any of these acts could be put under targeted surveillance. Of course, the Japanese government has promised not to overstep their boundaries and emphasized that the new law is only meant to increase security before the 2020 Olympics.

The »criminal acts«? Some of them are planning any of the following: Copying music. Conducting sit-ins to protest against the construction of apartment buildings. Using forged stamps. Competing in a motor boat race without a license. Mushroom picking in conservation forests. Avoiding paying consumption tax.

An anti-conspiracy bill! Really!?! And how can you even know if someone plans to download a song or pick a rare mushroom?

The worst laws seem to rest on the most absurd justifications.

Privacy News Online: New law in Japan lets police arrest and surveil those merely planning or discussing certain acts, like copyright violation »


Really, how much surveillance is enough?

Imagine mass surveillance as a line from 0 to 100. Zero is total anarchy and no control at all. One hundred is total control and surveillance of all the people, in all places, all the time.

So, where are we today? At 45? 60? 75?

Second, in which direction are we moving? Right you are, towards 100.

At which point will this become dangerous, for real? Should we say stop? Can we say stop? Is it too late to say stop? Discuss.

There are international conventions for moments like this. They enshrine our fundamental human rights. One of them is the right to privacy. The right to be left alone.

However, we constantly hear Big Government say that we must compromise, that we must strike a »balance« between security, crime fighting, copyright protection, child protection, the war on drugs, the fight against tax evasion, trafficking, terror propaganda, hate speech, the occasional outburst of moral panic – and our fundamental rights.

The only way to strike such a »balance« is to restrain and undermine citizens rights. And that must not happen. This is the red line. This is why these fundamental rights are set down in very serious European, EU, and UN Conventions.

You simply do not fiddle around with fundamental human rights.

Still, this is exactly what governments all over are doing – striking a »balance«. Taking away our rights towards the ruling political class and our bureaucratic overlords. And this is always done formally correct, within our democratic parliamentarian systems. Because there are not enough people who say No.

Considering that our fundamental human rights are there to protect the people from the state – I really think that the people ought to defend and protect them better. Because our elected representatives will not. They are not on the peoples’ side on this one. They are the state, they are Big Government. They have a different agenda.

To be overly clear: This is about the state taking away your protections against… the whims of the state and its functionaries. This is very bad.

Furthermore, we can not know who might rule the state tomorrow. Please, learn from history. Don’t put dangerous tools of control and mass surveillance in the hands of dangerous people.

All of this must end now – or we will no doubt slide into a more authoritarian society.