Battles for Democracy. Week 7
A weekly summary of the battles for democracy we couldn’t write about.
Towards a True Democracy
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) steers hyperlinks clear from copyright protection (pdf): “The owner of a website may, without the authorisation of the copyright holders, redirect internet users, via hyperlinks, to protected works available on a freely accessible basis on another site. This is true even if the internet users who use the link are under the impression that the work is appearing on the site that in fact only has the link”.
UK Police And Companies Will Have Access To Database Of All England’s Medical Records. Drug and insurance companies will from later this year be able to buy information on patients – including mental health conditions and diseases such as cancer, as well as smoking and drinking habits – once a single English database of medical data has been created. The database that will store all of England’s health records has a series of “backdoors” that will allow police and government bodies to access people’s medical data.
From Democracy to Dictatorship by way of Facade Democracies. From Ukraine to the Balkans, the last twenty-four years have witnessed political elites preaching democracy while surreptitiously undermining every single democratic institution, atomizing individuals through economic hardship and reducing freedom to a fake political independence. Some time ago (1991), Samuel Huntington wrote The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century. The idea was that democracy spreads around the world from the core countries in Europe and the US, where it originally developed over a long period of time, eventually extending to the peripheries. But back in 2002, Michael McFaul stole the term ‘Fourth Wave’ in a World Politics journal article called The Fourth Wave of Democracy and Dictatorship‘ where he describes what we see is happening now in eastern Europe (but not only), for example, facade democracies, suspended political authority, lack of civic engagement, media manipulation, questionable (post) Cold-War geopolitical relations – in a word – hybrid regimes.
World Map of CensorShip Laws. Rising protests and social unrest caused by the crisis have caused an avalanche of laws that violate basic human rights such as freedom of assembly or expression. Countries no longer use war with other countries to reactivate the economy. Now, importing the model from Israel, use the war against an internal enemy who is accused of being anti-establishment or terrorist.
World Map of Freedom of Press according to the World Press Freedom index 2014.
Al Jazeera’s comprehensive timeline of every Snowden revelation includes short summaries along with links to the original articles
Members of European Parliament table proposals to protect EU citizens’ privacy. The text, passed by 33 votes to 7 with 17 abstentions, condemns the “vast, systemic, blanket collection of personal data of innocent people, often comprising intimate personal information”, adding that “the fight against terrorism can never be a justification for untargeted, secret or even illegal mass surveillance programmes”. “We now have a comprehensive text that for the first time brings together in-depth recommendations on Edward Snowden’s allegations of NSA spying and an action plan for the future.”
Internet governance too US-centric, says European commission. “Recent revelations of large-scale surveillance have called into question the stewardship of the US when it comes to internet governance,” said the commission. “Given the US-centric model of internet governance currently in place, it is necessary to broker a smooth transition to a more global model while at the same time protecting the underlying values of open multi-stakeholder governance”.
Belarus continues to have one of the most restrictive and hostile media environments in Europe. Despite pressure from international sources recent years have brought no genuine improvements to the media situation. In a country that has not held a free or fair election since 1994, the authorities keep tight control over the media as a means of preserving their power. Belarus is listed 193 out of 197, lowest in the 2013 Freedom of the Press rating by Freedom House. Reporters Without Borders rank it 157 out of 179 countries in their 2013 Press Freedom Index.
Spain regressing on human rights. Baltasar Garzón, the judge who pursued Pinochet and is currently head of Julian Assange legal team criticises reform of universal jurisdiction doctrine in Spain, used to investigate right abuses around the world. The Spanish judge who made headlines around the world for pursuing foreign dictators from his court in Madrid has spoken out against his government’s move to limit cross-border justice, and warned that the proposed changes are part of a wider step backwards on human rights in Spain.
Tools for democracy
Idea.int, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, is an intergovernmental organization. Its programmes aim to: (1) Provide knowledge to democracy builders, (2) Provide policy development and analysis (3) Support democratic reform.
LiberTIC [in French] is an association to promote free culture in the Francophone world. It is particularly identified as one of the main French associations working to promote Open Government Data.
codeforamerica.org is a non-partisan, non-political and non for profit organization founded in 2009 to bring web-industry professionals to work with city governments in the United States in order to promote openness, participation, and efficiency in municipal governments. They provide a bunch of apps to solve city problems with the help of engaged citizens.
The Intercept is an online publication launched in February 2014 by First Look Media, the news organization created and funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. The magazine will serve as a platform to report on the documents released by Edward Snowden in the short term, and to “produce fearless, adversarial journalism across a wide range of issues” in the long term.