Archive | Human rights

Are we doomed? Maybe not.

I just read an interesting piece at Bloomberg: The Hackers Russia-Proofing Germany’s Elections »

It’s about the German Chaos Computer Club – CCC – and its fight for a free, open democratic society with a free flow of information. At the end, member Jan Krissler is quoted saying…

»All the stuff will happen in the end.«

He then adds »Maybe I’m too skeptical about our influence.«

The looming questions. Are they winning? Are we losing? If so, what will the consequences be? Is it already too late to fight Big Brother?

For decades I have in one way or another been into politics and communication. One thing that I have learned is that you must be ridiculously persistent. You will be fed up repeating the same arguments over and over again – to people who are not interested or do not want to understand. They will ignore you, they will laugh at you and they will fight you.

Then you win. It has been done before. When the Internet stopped ACTA is one of a number of very real victories in the EU. It’s all about leaving your comfort zone – and give what it takes to win. Again. And again.

Because we must! A modern, slightly superstitious, politicized, high-tech Big Brother state will be insufferable. Orwell, meet Kafka.

This is about the power balance between citizens and the state. This is about upholding fundamental human rights. This is – ultimately – about democracy. And it is for real.

Bigbrotherism tends to be irreversible. When mass surveillance is in place, it is very hard to undo and will inevitably be followed by more. When civil rights are restricted, they might be lost forever. And we have absolutely no idea about who will be in power in the future. But it’s highly likely that – sooner or later – it will be some pretty nasty people. (As if today’s politicians aren’t scary enough.) Please, do not leave them tools of oppression and total control.

So, losing is not an option.

To win, I believe that we must stand on strong and unrestrainable principles. The UN, EU, and Council of Europe declarations on human rights. The fundamental pillars and the deeper values of liberal democracy. What the Germans (who learned the hard way, twice) call »Rechtstaat«. Division of power. Openness.

It must be commonly known that there is an ongoing battle, where peaceful activists passionately are defending democracy – and politicians and bureaucrats are trying to restrict it. This image must be reflected in the media and in the public mind.

Remember that action is the most powerful way to communicate – and necessary for anything to happen at all.

Trying to repress Democracy must come at an extremely high political price. If we don’t draw a red line, our overlords will find that there are, actually, no real limits to their power. (And having power over others does unfortunate things to people.)

Fight fair, endure, stand on a few exceptionally strong principles – and you will eventually win.

Finally, we cannot have all these different fights over and over again. This must come to some sort of horizontal, binding resurrection of privacy, civil rights and freedom of information.

(And whatever you do, do not allow politicians to »modernize« our existing human rights conventions. These should be very imposing and inconvenient obstacles – to prevent governments from doing whatever they want.)

Take this fight to national politics. Confront politicians and their functionaries. Give the media a wake-up-call. And let’s make all of this an Issue at the European elections – as much of today’s Bigbroterism originates in the EU.

May the Force be with you.



Why you should trust no politician on Bigbrotherism

Within living memory, our loved ones were persecuted, hounded to suicide, imprisoned for activities that we recognize today as normal and right: being gay, smoking pot, demanding that settler governments honor their treaties with First Nations. The legitimization of these activities only took place because we had a private sphere in which to agitate for them.

Doctorow on Trudeau and Obama: What happens after the ‘good’ politicians give away our rights? Cory Doctorow shares a cautionary tale. »


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:


EU is undermining the rule of law: e-evidence

In a similar way that the police cannot enter your home without a court warrant, they are not supposed to look into your private communications without permission, right? Not really.

The EU is working towards easing the access to e-evidence for law enforcement authorities. The plan of the European Commission is to propose new rules on sharing evidence and the possibility for the authorities to request e-evidence directly from technology companies. One of the proposed options is that police would be able to access data directly from the cloud-based services.

EDRi » Access to e-evidence: Inevitable sacrifice of our right to privacy? »


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.