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Electronic Frontier Foundation Government Privacy The Internet

U.N. Realizes Internet Surveillance Chills Free Speech 90

An anonymous reader writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that the United Nations has finally come to the realization that there is a direct relationship between government surveillance online and citizens' freedom of expression. The report (PDF) says, 'The right to privacy is often understood as an essential requirement for the realization of the right to freedom of expression. Undue interference with individuals' privacy can both directly and indirectly limit the free development and exchange of ideas. An infringement upon one right can be both the cause and consequence of an infringement upon the other.' The EFF adds, 'La Rue's landmark report could not come at a better time. The explosion of online expression we've seen in the past decade is now being followed by an explosion of communications surveillance. For many, the Internet and mobile telephony are no longer platforms where private communication is shielded from governments knowing when, where, and with whom a communication has occurred.'"
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U.N. Realizes Internet Surveillance Chills Free Speech

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  • Claiming to shave ya,
    They decapitate.
    Liberty will save ya,
    When wonks defenestrate.
    Burma Shave
  • Captain OBVIOUS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fredgiblet ( 1063752 ) on Tuesday June 04, 2013 @06:41PM (#43909213)
    So they realized it, but the problem is that pretty much all the people in power want it that way, so nothing will change, no matter how many sternly worded letters and resolutions get introduced.
    • Re:Captain OBVIOUS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Tuesday June 04, 2013 @07:47PM (#43909687)
      Yeah they realized it. Now, it took how many people how many years and how much money to realize what everyone already knows? Ahh, you have to love bureaucracy. But just wait, they'll come up with a solution that makes everything more expensive and actually makes the problem worse instead of better.
      • Its the UN, have they EVER been anything but worthless, expensive, and ineffective? Its not like any of the west which has been marching towards fascism for decades is gonna listen to them anyway, so they might as well just put out a petition calling for world peace for all the good their little resolution is gonna do.
        • by Clsid ( 564627 )

          It worked wonders for the US in Yugoslavia and Iraq. It works for other countries like Russia by avoiding the Libyan scenario in Syria. China effectively has to be more open and invest overseas to gain friends since they want to regain control of Taiwan (Chinese investments in Costa Rica), which means UN members has to withdraw their support on Taiwan.

          The UN is a lot of things though, not just the security council. It is a great opportunity for world governments to consolidate policies, especially with thin

          • by readin ( 838620 )

            Like every form of government, it's not all bad or good, but just what we have.

            The U.N. isn't a form of government, it is a club of governments. The behavior of a club is largely determined by what kind of members it has. Most members of the U.N. are autocratic oppressive government and U.N. behavior reflects that.

          • The UN is absolutely not a government. The UN was established as a way of resolving disputes without wars. The UN is a set of agreements between governments on how to resolve disputes. Soldiers working for the UN are provided by member governments, and act in the voted interest of all of the government members of the UN. Aid from the UN is provided by the member governments and distributed by the voted interests of the member governments.

            In concept, the UN is a good thing. In practice however, larger g

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          The UN vs World Wars, hmm, let's stick with the UN. As for the privacy issue, the rich and greedy have finally realised they can not steal our privacy without giving away theirs.

          • by readin ( 838620 )

            The UN vs World Wars, hmm, let's stick with the UN.

            You think the U.N. has prevented world wars or could prevent world wars? How so?

        • Its the UN, have they EVER been anything but worthless, expensive, and ineffective?

          Depends on your point of view. You could view it as a "convenient" place to bash Israel, or an institution with an enormous time wasting obsession with Israel.

          From: Middle East Quarterly - Winter 2004
          The Case for Israel []

          ... The Case For Israel ... Dershowitz points out that a full 27 percent of the U.N.'s country-specific resolutions critical of a state have been directed against it. In contrast, no resolution in the history of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights has condemned Syria, China, Saudi Arabia, or Zimbabwe, all of which are self-evidently far worse violators of human rights. Israel, asserts Dershowitz, has a "far better record on human rights than any other nation in the Middle East and most other nations in the world." As evidence, he notes that "Israel is the only nation in the world whose judiciary actively enforces the rule of law against its military during wartime" and that "Israel has killed fewer innocent civilians in proportion to the number of its own civilians killed than any country engaged in a comparable war."... The Case for Israel []

          I think that anti-Israel resolutions as a percentage of the cumulative total number of resolutions has actually fallen quite a bit over the last couple of decades. It might in fact be major progress getting it down to only 27%. On the other hand, what would the UN be if it didn't have Is

          • Israel is an asshole surrounded by other assholes, the best thing the USA could do is wash our hands of the whole damned thing. The sad part is we waste billions of our tax dollars because of a bunch of right wing loony tunes and a single line written by goatherders about Jews in Zion...ya know what? if their God is so damned weak that it can't keep a handful of people in one place without the US military? Then you have a shitty God and should really go elsewhere.

            As for the UN? Waste of time, that is ALL it

            • ... a bunch of right wing loony tunes

              You're writing some comedy gold there. Israel is a left leaning liberal democracy of about 5 million people surrounded by more than 100 million that would do them in if they could, not because of what they've done, but because of who they are - Jews. But the double minded thinking about Israel reaches astonishing heights. Just think about the question of gay rights. Don't you live somewhere in the Bay area? Maybe you've seen these guys:

              Queers for Palestine []

              No single group better exemplifies the cognitive dissonance on display at these rallies than Queers for Palestine, also known as QUIT -- Queers Undermining Israeli Terror. What is left to say about the fundamental self-contradicting nature of such a group?

              In Israel, gays live openly and happily in a free and liberal society. There is a thriving gay scene, just as there is in the United States and many other Western democracies.

              But in Palestine -- as in most Islamic countries -- being gay is not only frowned upon, it is a crime often punishable by death. Tales of what life is like for gays in Palestinian society are horrifying in the extreme. In fact, gay youth in Palestine frequently flee to Israel if they can get a chance.

              So why in the world would gay activists in the most gay-friendly city on Earth protest against one of the other centers of gay liberation (Israel) and for one of the planet's most violently oppressive homophobic societies?

              This is the essence of cognitive dissonance -- the condition of holding two differing beliefs that are so incompatible and contradictory that the only way to internally reconcile them is to, well, go insane (to use the layman's term). Because, try as I might, I can't comprehend any other justification for being a member of QUIT other than insanity. ...more []

              Socialism, in the form of the Kibbutz [] -

              • I don't give a flying fuck what those Jim Crow loving motherfuckers call themselves, i was talking about the USA which keeps having to hand billions over to their sorry asses thanks to our right wing who think "If thar ain't no jew in Zion Jebus won't come back, praise Jebus!" and because of that single fucking line we get to hand billions to those assholes. When you have roads that are Jews only, when the leaders start shit to grab land (read Dayan's writings on the subject) and treat the locals like shit?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Don't know how much importance can be placed on the above comment. Certainly not enough as it's absolutely key to the whole situation. The whole point behind all the surveillance is exactly that; the crushing of freedom of expression and so the crushing of any resistance to the status quo. Once it's determined for certain that this effect is real, the surveillance will be increased and continue to increase until we're living in a complete tyranny with no hope of ever escaping.

      Of course, this will last fo

  • by CmdrEdem ( 2229572 ) on Tuesday June 04, 2013 @06:46PM (#43909265) Homepage

    .. that UN can`t really do anything unless countries support it. Countries where governments are more and more interested in speech restriction so they can keep the shiny power!

    • By shiny power, you mean the nukes?
      • Italy has nukes. I don't remember the last time Italy's opinion on anything counted for anything. Germany doesn't have nukes. And the keeps wondering if the German's will keep EU alive if they have to lend money to Italy. Power to build is the power to sustain life. Power to build increases whenever it is used because it increases sustainability of life. Power to kill ends as soon as it is used.
        • I didn't know Italy had nukes. Citation, please? I'm lazy.
          • by tragedy ( 27079 )

            Italy doesn't, technically, have its own nukes. It's a nuclear weapons "sharing" arrangement under NATO. I think pretty much the way it works is that another NATO country (OK, the US) with nukes keeps some on one of its own bases in Italy or otherwise under some sort of lock and key. In the event of something requiring their use, they get released or unlocked somehow and Italian soldiers take over. Of course, Germany is another country that participates in the nuclear sharing program so the comparison the G

            • by Clsid ( 564627 )

              So much for non-proliferation. This kind of thing is why I believe everybody should pull out from the Nuclear NPT and actually aim for a nuclear weapons free world.

              • Those weapons would only fall under local nation control in the event of war and the authorization for nuclear release with US consent. Not really a proliferation problem per se.

                As odd as it may seem, having nuclear weapons in alliance hands probably prevents a conventional arms race. Without the NPT, more countries would be willing to go nuclear.

      • By shiny I meant the fantasy trope where sentient beings are attracted to anything that shines, that grabs their attention for the face value. Yeah, I just said politics are simple-minded as the simplest humanoids.

    • by interval1066 ( 668936 ) on Tuesday June 04, 2013 @07:23PM (#43909527) Homepage Journal

      that UN can`t really do anything unless countries support it.

      The UN WON'T do anything, and acting like the UN is some kind of savior is foolish, I'm really surprised at the number of supposedly intelligent people who always want to run to the UN to solve world problems. Shall I chant the number of wars and atrocities the UN has seen fit to turn its back on over the last 40 years yet again? Maybe I'm a fool but it seems like the UN's FIRST responsibility as I read their charter is to either prevent or interceed in such matters, and your running to them to write up some kind of rules on international censorship? ~cough~

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday June 04, 2013 @06:47PM (#43909271)

    It doesn't matter how much or who monitors you.

    What matters is what actions are taken from the monitoring - if any.

    Given that monitoring is impossible to prevent or really limit, all efforts should be made in shaming those taking bad ACTIONS based upon collected data.

    • by canadiannomad ( 1745008 ) on Tuesday June 04, 2013 @06:52PM (#43909317) Homepage

      all efforts should be made in shaming those taking bad ACTIONS based upon collected data.

      To heck with *shaming* people who take bad actions with collected data need to be *punished*. And pretty severely at that.

    • by CmdrEdem ( 2229572 ) on Tuesday June 04, 2013 @06:52PM (#43909319) Homepage

      "Information is power." This is not strictly true, but information multiplies actions` effectiveness. The more information someone has about anyone makes easier to manipulate the victim without anyone`s knowledge. Always keep that in mind.

      • "Information is power." This is not strictly true, but information multiplies actions` effectiveness

        That's exactly right, but since we cannot stop the information gathering all we can work on is the other end of the lever, and to make there be some serious repercussions to others using that information as a multiplier.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Private or public, the effect works. It can be done right in front of everyone and nobody dare speak out, or perhaps they don't see the big picture until its too late.

        You don't like a politicians, you dig through their lives, find something on them or their family and leak it. The opposition party make political capital of the leak for their own gain. The press has a story to exaggerate, and the effect has worked. The politician is out of power, and the friendly politician is in power.

        The recent SWIFT data

        • Agent provocateurs do exist, though people tend to not want to see them. We have public information today which was recently unclassified, showing how the FBI and CIA planted agents in MLK's and KKK's camps not just "watching" them but causing trouble including murder. While the next two examples are not admitted provocations, their nature is clear. 1) The riots in Oakland's OWS camp had arrests of over 100 people, in which over 80% were not even from CA but bussed in by "someone". 2) We have drug users

    • It doesn't matter how much or who monitors you. What matters is what actions are taken from the monitoring - if any.

      What matters is what actions could be taken from the monitoring, because eventually some government somewhere will try to step over the line and take those actions.

      • What matters is what actions could be taken from the monitoring, because eventually some government somewhere will try to step over the line and take those actions.

        Absolutely they will.

        And just as absolutely you will not be able to prevent the monitoring.

        So you have to figure out what do to based on the absolute and unalterable fact the information will be collected.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          And just as absolutely you will not be able to prevent the monitoring.

          Not necessarily. The entire government doesn't have to be corrupt from top to bottom in order for abuses to happen, and mistakes (like the government overreacting to bomb jokes and infringing upon people's freedoms) will inevitably occur no matter how corrupt the government is.

          It's difficult to prevent the government from secretly monitoring its citizens, but maybe not impossible.

      • by Jockle ( 2934767 )

        People with unchecked power almost always abuse it; history has taught us that. So yes, it is extremely foolish not to be wary of the government, and it is even more foolish to let it spy on the people.

      • by readin ( 838620 )

        It doesn't matter how much or who monitors you. What matters is what actions are taken from the monitoring - if any.

        What matters is what actions could be taken from the monitoring, because eventually some government somewhere will try to step over the line and take those actions.

        The actions that they could take also matter because behavior is affected anyway just by knowing about the monitoring. The implied threat is always there.

    • by gmuslera ( 3436 )
      Actions like this []? Or like this []? There are a lot of kinds of monitoring, some more intrusive than others, but the abuse of it is always ready to happen.
    • “The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible -- and achieve it, generation after generation.” -- Pearl S. Buck

      Given that monitoring is impossible to prevent or really limit, all efforts should be made in shaming those taking bad ACTIONS based upon collected data.

      It is not impossible to prevent or limit.

      There are many projects working on software and technologies to do just that. Some are:

      What you're saying
      RedPhone and TextSecure: []
      Wickr: [] []
      Silent Circle: []
      Seecrypt: []


  • Is the world's third oldest profession.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Based on my own observations the surveillance started on the Internet when commerce and financial transactions became more mainstream. Kids will never know how liberating and free the Internet was when you could surf anonymously without being tracked.

  • by real-modo ( 1460457 ) on Tuesday June 04, 2013 @07:04PM (#43909409)

    Bruce Schneier points out one of the ways in this essay [].

  • That's the point. It's a soap box for all of world's dictatorships. It's not in any sense a democracy by design or by mandate. It's designed to reduce necessity for war. And dictatorships, as they must by definition, try to use any political tool to suppress opposition.
  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Tuesday June 04, 2013 @07:29PM (#43909591)

    "We must plan for freedom, and not only for security, if for no other reason than only freedom can make security more secure." -- Karl Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies

    "To me, social media is the worst menace to society." -- Recep Tayyip Erdoan, Prime Minister of Turkey

    . . . what interesting times we live in . . .

  • blah blah blah blah on a computer, or blah blah blah on a computer network .

    There is a direct relationship to government surveillance and citizens freedom of expression. The internet part is only one small piece of the action from either party.

  • lol. Of course they realize it, that is the point. The point is to control "the message" and the people.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 04, 2013 @08:36PM (#43910023)

    What you have had before was fun interesting and a start to show what kids can do if given freedom and with that freedom they WILL rise up....When you persecuted , infiltrated and incarcertated those kids bring us into the light....we are not the script kiddies. We are not the dumb bearded kids living in basements and with we are YOU....look around , all walks of life , all brackets of age and wealth and of every religion or non religion ....( well except scientology but cults dont count )

    We are as a associative group are of like mind and seek the freedom of all nations peoples ot live without fear of a police officer or army officer to harm them when they speak there mind....SOME speech , mostly that of hate should not be tolerated however for it is that which gives rise to the very people that have taken our civil rights and liberties. They like scientology or hitler used hate to bring you form being a individual into a hive mind so they could act for you often in ways you would abhore given more time to make your reasoning.

    THE USA for all its wealth and pwer has one main has now a rank of 31 for avg math skills.its reading isn't far off. Who needs ot read or count when you have actors and musicans and army men with automatic rifles? WELL there comesa time on earth when all this violence will be seen for what it is....just old school riuch people trying to keep there status above you all like gods or kings. The USA will ahve at obama;s end of term 21 trillion in debts.

    china will be getting close to passing it...have you seen the skies of its capital during the think of L.A. during nixons time when enviromental movements began...

    what has changed.....are you better off?
    is there peacfe on earth.....ask your sleves this ....if by the odd chance some alien space craft came here and suveyed this world what would you htink if you were them?
    NO really. of all the cultures on earth we hackers get this the most. WE know that race , religion and wealth mean nothing to us....we are all equal....
    you cannot fight this....nor our curiosity to learn and know more.
    YOUR laws of copyright and patents are going to destroy us one day....and i will cry...

  • well, the core issue I believe is that your words could be misinterpreted as hostile when they are not. beside that, it's mostly about people who are in fact infringing some laws which, if it wasn't for the internet, would more than likely not be known.
  • U.N. Realizes Fire On body Chills People catching on fire
  • For UN bureaucrats, suppressing dissent and feedback is a feature, not a bug.

    • by Sique ( 173459 )
      The UN has exactly nothing from suppressing dissent and feedback. It is an organisation of states (and their respective governments). Governments can try to get more surveillance forced upon everyone via the UN, but they can also do it via bilateral contracts (as the U.S. does). It's not an UN problem at all.

      What you are doing is moving responsibility as far as possible away from you, and the most far away organisatorial unit you can imagine is the UN.

  • But really, since it's the UN and Captain Obvious, I really can't resist. Ok, for those of you who grew up with the Justice League, you should read the following in the voice of the announcer who always said stuff like "Meanwhile, back at the Justice League..."

    Meanwhile, back at the UN, Captain Obvious finally makes an appearance! He has a lot of work to catch up on! First, he needs to stop by the security council and tell them Mahmoud Ahmadinead and Kim Jong Il seem to be big jerks! He might also say som

  • The UN recognizes that surveillance chills speech and thought, but they pass an arms treaty that chills freedom to protect oneself.

    • by Sique ( 173459 )
      Given that the person most likely to kill you is yourself, keeping weapons away from you will actually protect you from a statistical point of view. And given that the possession of a gun increases the probability of killing yourself, there is another good reason not to have a gun in the home(*). And given that the probability of being killed by a foreigner is lower than the probability of being killed by a person (except you), who has access to your weapons (e.g. spouse, acquaintance, children, parents), i

Receiving a million dollars tax free will make you feel better than being flat broke and having a stomach ache. -- Dolph Sharp, "I'm O.K., You're Not So Hot"