Battles for Democracy. Week 19

Battles for Democracy. Week 19

A weekly summary of the battles for democracy. “We kill people based on metadata” confirms Michael Hayden ex-director for NSA; Corporations guilty of ethical, financial or environmental misconduct give advice to the comission; Crackdown intensifies ahead of Tiananmen anniversary;  30.000 lobbyst and counting: is Brussels under corporate sway? and much more.

Citizens Losing:

Citizens abused or killed, liberties and rights cut.

We kill people based on metadata” -General Michael Hayden, former director for the NSA and the CIA.

Crooked Counsel, a new report by Martin Ehrenhauser (Member of European Parliament) . The ten corporations covered in the report dominate their respective industries. The report conatains numerous household names (among them Shell, Deutsche Bank, Microsoft and Telefonica). Many of the corporations advising the Commission have been found guilty (or are under investigation) for serious ethical, financial or environmental misconduct, undermining the integrity, transparency, and credibility of the European policy-making process.

Crackdown intensifies ahead of Tiananmen anniversary. At least five prominent activists have been detained in Beijing, while several others have been questioned by police, as the authorities attempt to suppress critics ahead of the 25th anniversary on 4th of June.

30,000 lobbyists and counting: is Brussels under corporate sway? Lobbying is a billion-euro industry in Brussels. According to Corporate Europe Observatory, a watchdog campaigning for greater transparency, there are at least 30,000 lobbyists in Brussels, nearly matching the 31,000 staff employed by the European commission and making it second only to Washington in the concentration of those seeking to affect legislation. By some estimates, they influence 75% of legislation.

Citizens Winning:

Citizens unite, react and take action, institutions support them.

More than 100 technology companies have written to the US Federal Communication Commission (FCC), opposing potential changes to net neutrality rules. The FCC is considering allowing internet service providers (ISPs) to charge content providers to prioritise their traffic. Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon warn that such a move represents a “grave threat to the internet”.

UK Parliament finally admits that snowden revelations show that GCHQ oversight is broken. A highly critical report by the Commons home affairs select committee published on Friday calls for a radical reform of the current system of oversight of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ. UK MP’s admit that Edward Snowden’s disclosures of the scale of mass surveillance are “an embarrassing indictment of our system that some in the media felt compelled to publish leaked information to ensure that matters were heard in parliament.”

A federal magistrate judge in California blocks goverment search of gmail account. The first pages of the order denying the application for a search warrant are delicious. What follows is an example from the beginning of page 3: “No defendant or defense counsel is present. Indeed, no defendant yet exists, as no case has yet been filed. There are no hearings, no witnesses, no briefs and no debate. Instead, a magistrate judge is left to predict what would or would not be reasonable in executing the warrant without any hard, ripe facts. This is hardly a recipe for success.

Tools For Democracy

Tools to either increase awareness of the threats to democracy, protect yourself against them or to leverage democracy to new levels.

Open Integrity Index enables users to make sophisticated decisions about the tools they use for privacy and communications, without requiring a high-level security engineering background.

Democracy OS: An open source platform that give voters the opportunity to influence politicians.