Battles for Democracy. Week 11

Battles for Democracy. Week 11

A weekly summary of the battles for democracy we did not write about this past week.

Citizens Losing

Citizens abused or killed, liberties and rights cut.

How the NSA Infects ‘Millions’ of Computers with Malware. The classified files – provided previously by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – contain new details about groundbreaking surveillance technology that NSA has developed to infect potentially millions of computers worldwide with malware “implants.”

The European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee rejects a call to protect Edward Snowden against possible prosecution or extradition.

Brazil’s World Cup surveillance operation. The security apparatus, designed to stop demonstrations from disrupting the tournament, consists of a set of procedures for general intelligence and data surveillance during the conduct of major sporting events. The monitoring of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube is one of the main means for the surveillance, and is already in operation. Any citizen can be targeted for further investigation.

ING Bank ready to reveal all of its customers’ data (in French). “We know, not only what people spend their money on, but when they do” explained Hans Hagenaars, one of the directors of the bank, to convince companies of the value for this information to better target potential consumers.

The leak which offers a rare glimpse into secret EU-US free market talks. These proposals are the largest trade deal in human history. They are a constitutional game-changer which give foreign companies rights over national parliaments. Secrecy has surrounded the project because it is very threatening to our democratic foundation. Consumer right consultations involved 119 meetings with industry representatives and less than ten with other parties.

Citizens Winning

Citizens unite, react and take action.

After mass surveillance revelations, the European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee tightens up rules to protect personal data. Previously Dimitrios Droutsas, rapporteur for the directive on the protection of personal data approved by the committee, had declared his “dissatisfaction and frustration about the fact that it is the Council, or at least some member states, which are preventing us from achieving the goal [after two years of negotiations] that we had set, namely to have the data protection reform package passed by the end of this Parliament’s mandate”.

An online Magna Carta: Berners-Lee calls for bill of rights for web. Berners-Lee’s Magna Carta plan is to be taken up as part of an initiative called “the web we want”, which calls on people to generate a digital bill of rights in each country. “Unless we have an open, neutral internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture. It’s not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it.”

“Don’t go through the revolving door”, is what transparency campaigners tell EU Commissioners when they remind them of the need to avoid the conflicts of interest which undermine public trust in EU policy-making as they get close to end their term in the EU office. The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) has sent individual letters to every serving European Commissioner to remind them of their responsibilities under the revolving door rules.

Don’t ask for your privacy. Take it back. Governments have abused the Internet and twisted it beyond recognition. Now, we’re taking it back. On June 5th, websites, organizations, and thousands of people are closing the door on the mass surveillance by resetting the net. Together, we’ll turn off the parts of the web that governments have infected, and bring them back with new armor that directly confronts the spying. We will make the Internet ours again, for all of our thoughts and dreams. No one can stop us now.

Yanukovych Leaks National Project. On Feb. 22, volunteer divers found nearly 200 folders of documents at a lake at the residence of former president of Ukraine. They had been thrown in the lake to destroy them as people were escaping the compound. A group of journalists and activists have undertaken to rescue, systematize and investigate the enormous wealth of information about the former owners of the residence. The recovered documents are being published on their website to make them available to journalists and citizens around the world.

Tools For Democracy

Incoma project is a new free software debate platform whose aim is to facilitate conversations between thousands of people simultaneously, to allow the construction of a real global collective intelligence.

How to protect your privacy in the age of NSA surveillance “Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on. Unfortunately, endpoint security is so terrifically weak that NSA can frequently find ways around it.”– Edward Snowden.

Open Rights Group Censorship Monitoring Project. We want to end the UK-wide censorship system of web blocking by holding ISPs and the Government accountable. We know that default filters prevent people accessing important and legal information. Over-blocking is a serious and unavoidable effect of filtering. Yet ISPs give website owners and customers minimal information on why and what is being blocked, or how to report problems. This is why ORG’s Censorship Monitoring project is building tools to monitor and challenge filtering. is a project by the Open Knowledge Foundation aimed at improving fiscal literacy and providing greater awareness of budget data worldwide. Historias de gasto (in Spanish) is a work in progress to adapt the successful project to Spanish speakers to explore public expenditure in Spain.

The Human Rights Data Analysis Group is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that applies rigorous science to the analysis of human rights violations around the world. They are scientists, not advocates. As scientists, they work to support their partners—the advocates and human rights defenders who “speak truth to power”—by producing unbiased, scientific results that bring clarity to human rights violence and by ensuring that the “truth” is the most accurate truth possible.

Fight for the Future is dedicated to protecting and expanding the Internet’s transformative power in our lives by creating civic campaigns that are engaging for millions of people. Alongside internet users everywhere we beat back attempts to limit our basic rights and freedoms, and empower people to demand technology (and policy) that serves their interests. Activating the internet for the public good can only lead to a more vibrant and awesome world.

Reporters Without Borders: Enemies of the Internet 2014 Report: entities at the heart of censorship and surveillance. Identifying government units or agencies rather than entire governments as Enemies of the Internet allows us to draw attention to the schizophrenic attitude towards online freedoms that prevails in in some countries. Three of the government bodies designated by Reporters Without Borders as Enemies of the Internet are located in democracies that have traditionally claimed to respect fundamental freedoms: the Centre for Development of Telematics in India, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in the United Kingdom, and the National Security Agency (NSA) in the United States.

Projects working on next generation secure email or email-like communication. This is an initial draft report highlighting the projects and comparing the approaches. The authors ask for help to fill in the missing details and correct inaccuracies.

Lo and Behold!

Snowden: Feinstein a Hypocrite for Blasting CIA Spying. Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that the CIA had searched the committee’s computers and that the search was potentially criminal and may have violated the Fourth Amendment. “It’s clear the CIA was trying to play ‘keep away’ with documents relevant to an investigation by their overseers in Congress, and that’s a serious constitutional concern,” said Snowden in a statement to NBC News. “But it’s equally if not more concerning that we’re seeing another ‘Merkel Effect,’ where an elected official does not care at all that the rights of millions of ordinary citizens are violated by our spies, but suddenly it’s a scandal when a politician finds out the same thing happens to them.”