Since the revelations of Edward Snowden, civil society has struggled to articulate a clear, united and international response. The typical approach taken has been to re-iterate the 13 Principles (“Necessary and Proportionate”) developed before Snowden’s revelations and call for an end to mass-surveillance.
Curiously, there has still been scant focus on explicit discrimination strictly according to nationality in some nations’ laws. Unlike the faux-threat of “Balkanisation” (meaning localisation of data – the only effective defense against foreign spying on Cloud computing), discrimination of rights by nationality would *really* break the Internet.
Moreover the recent report of the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights and counter-terrorism concludes “States are legally obliged to afford the same privacy protection for nationals and non-nationals and for those within and outside their jurisdiction. Asymmetrical privacy protection regimes are a clear violation” of ICCPR.
Even though several civil society organizations were alerted to such inequalities, no NGO has put equality of the human right to privacy at the centre of a campaign, even after Snowden. Yet equality might seem a more realistic goal than expecting nation states to end mass-surveillance practised for hundreds of years by post and telegraph offices.
How did we get to this point? Do we need a new NGO to fight for equality? In Europe especially, there seems a need to bring equality to the forefront of the political debate. It is not clear to what extent the assymetry referred to by the UN Rapporteur is understood by EU institutions and Member States governments, let alone the general public.
Those who believe in equality of human rights must change the terms of debate as a prerequisite to political change. Until we articulate the case for non-discrimination loudly and clearly, the question cannot even get on the political agenda.
If you want to hear more, please come to Posteo Lab in the Methfesselstr. 38, 10965 Berlin on 8 November 2014. We will be disorganising a BarCamp from 10:00 to 18:00 and hope to develop these ideas further. Everyone is welcome, but as space is limited please RSVP by 5 November 2014
Looking forward to seeing you there,
Caspar Bowden & Ben Wagner