Securing our civil liberties

The UK government has plans to extend its powers over email surveillance. According to Big Brother Watch:

In an unprecedented step that will see Britain adopt the same kind of surveillance as China and Iran, police and intelligence officers are to be handed powers to monitor people’s messages online.

Now plenty of other, better informed folk than I will blog about yet another erosion of our civil liberties justified on the grounds of terrorism. I wanted to remind you that activism friendly tech services such as Riseup exist and offer ways to protect your privacy – not because you have something to hide, but because it’s your right. 

Not using their services yet? Now’s the time (but donate for what you use). Here at Rhizome we use Riseup’s Crabgrass “a software libre web application designed for social networking, group collaboration and network organizing… Crabgrass currently consists of a suite of group collaboration tools, such as private wikis, task lists, file repository, and decision-making tools”. And I suspect we’ll be trying out their new etherpad next time we have a document we need to collectively edit.

Not sure what all the fuss is about? Riseup say this about electronic security:

The increasing importance of information and communication has brought with it another phenomenon: the rise of a surveillance society. You can think of surveillance as an attempt by the powerful to maintain their dominance by asserting control over communication.

Nation states have responded to new communications technology by pursuing an infrastructure that can easily be re-purposed for total social control. Unlike earlier communication eras, the nature of current technology requires that our information is either secure in a way that frustrates governments, or is totally insecure in a way that makes possible the widespread and detailed monitoring of an entire populous.

Corporations have discovered that the gathering and analysis of massive amounts of personal data is necessary if they want to remain competitive in an information-rich world. In particular, nearly all advertising is shifting toward surveillance-based tracking of our personal behavior.

In this context, secure communication has become vitally important.

  • State surveillance has a long history of resulting in the repression of social movements.
  • Even indirectly, rampant surveillance has a chilling effect on social movements.
  • Corporate surveillance is just as serious as state surveillance. Not only can the massive amounts of data kept on internet users be easily re-purposed for direct state repression, but corporations are now on the verge of obtaining unprecedented power over consumers.

When people start to learn about the rise in surveillance they start to feel overwhelmed. Some decide that it is impossible to be secure, so they resign themselves to live under perpetual surveillance or to forsake all forms of digital communication. At Riseup, we believe there is a third way: our goal is to make a high degree of security easy and accessible for everyone.

Much of the fight against surveillance takes place through the legal system and we applaud those who work in this arena. In contrast, Riseup’s focus is on technology. When laws are unjust, we believe that a new technical reality is necessary in order to alter the legal and political possibilities.

taken from